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MichaelBriggs

Sliding Fingers

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The Black Stiletto: The First Diary--1958 - Raymond Benson This book is a lot easier to read in a quick gulp. A gulp of a day, maybe no more than two. For the simple reason that reading it quickly will allow the negative, arrogant, ignorant, jerky character of Martin fester less, or at least have less time to fester in the readers mind. Quick gulp and you just get the idea without letting it dig into your brain, burrowing deep, planting seeds of disgust. With a quick read, you can avoid that.

The individual storylines all would make an interesting book by themselves. There are three points of view. Martin, previously mentioned, is the son of a single mother, Judy, currently residing in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s. Martin's mother left something with the family lawyer to given to Martin on Judy's death or incapacitation. An envelope with keys. So, the first storyline involves Martin, in the present, reading his mothers diary from 1958 and learning that there was more to his mother than he suspected or expected. His mother was the Black Stiletto, a vigilante crime fighter in the 1950s, and early 1960s.

Which leads directly to the second point of view, Judy’s diary from 1958? The diary section has both "dear diary", and giggling combined with a more narrative, novelesque type of presentation of the information. While being Judy's diary from 1958, it also contains Judy's life from, if I recall correctly, 1952-1958.

The third point of view also takes place in the present, though is lead by a person who knew Judy in the 1950s. Roberto has spent the last fifty odd years in prison and his section opens with him being released from prison. Roberto had been an enforcer, bodyguard in an Italian crime family.

All three points of view could be interesting books, or short stories on their own. A book about a female crime fighter in the 1950s, with a spark of realism, as opposed to superhero fantasy. Judy's section is the strongest of the three.

Martin's story could also make an interesting short story on its own. About a person who learns, late in life, that their parent had been a superhero-esque figure in the middle of the twentieth century. While Judy's section could probably be read by itself, alone, Martin's section includes a little too much of the "and now I turn to reading this diary I found" material. There are bits and pieces of a story, a broken marriage, a growing daughter, etc.

Roberto's story, cut out from all the superhero/vigilante type oddness, could also be an interesting slice of life book. Here's a man who went into prison in the prime of his life. His job skills being purely criminal in nature. Spending most of his adult life in prison - the Twin Towers are built and fall while he is in prison, cell phones spread to the point where it would look odd if he didn't have one, and being released at the age of 78. No civilian job skills. His criminal job skills are out of date and most of his old crew are dead. And the crime is no longer controlled by the Italians, but now by the Russians and east Europeans. It would be an interesting book, a look at an old man trying to figure out how to live in this new world of computers and the like. Roberto's story is, more or less, limited, though, to his quest to find and take care of the woman who put him in jail and killed his twin brother.

All in all, it is an interesting book. There is an impression given that this might be a first in a series, and if so, I might look at a second book. Though the book works well enough on its own. There are some interesting concepts, and the characterization is actually deeper than I've been implying. I suppose I somewhat recommend the book.