Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Black Stiletto by Raymond Benson ***

Martin Talbot's mother has Alzheimer's, so her lawyer figures it is okay to release her death-or-incapacitated letter to her son. This is how Martin learns that pre-women's liberation, his mother was a masked vigilante - The Black Stiletto.

In this first volume of the series The Black Stiletto  fights petty crooks, mobsters, and commies. First of a series? How can you tell? Well, The Black Stiletto by Raymond Benson, leaves lots of clues. This novel presents the first volume of her found diaries. The promotional material (a tongue-in-cheek newscaster, comic and movie covers, and even a 1950s-style jazz song) indicates a longer period of activity then covered in this premier effort. More annoyingly, Martin's daughter is introduced as a teaser for later volumes.

Beyond these hints, Raymond is the author of "several original James Bond 007 novels," so he certainly understands the value of a franchise, and can't not be faulted for wanting one of his own.

Is The Black Stiletto worthy of becoming a franchise? While this is an interesting read, I found the conceit and setup distracting in a middle-of-the-pack mystery effort. A pleasant read, but unlikely to be the next James Bond or, even, Austin Powers.

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