Kathleen Stone (sometimes known as Kennedy Vaners, as Katya Lincoln, Kathy Stevens, or Kevin(!)), is a former NYPD undercover officer turned P.I.
You know, typing that sentence made me think of Orphan Black, and I'm now picturing Tatiana Maslany as our main character. Which absolutely works. I may see her in my mind when I get the chance to read the first book about Kathleen, and probably as I write the rest of this.
Where was I? Oh yeah, so the circumstances leading to the "former" part of her NYPD tenure are a little murky -- maybe we get it all explained in The Red Chameleon and I just need to catch up, or maybe it's left vague because Kathleen doesn't want to share the details. Either explanation is believable. Not since Stephen J. Cannell's Wiseguy, have I seen something deal so effectively with the emotional toll of a double life -- although strangely enough, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, came close last season (I'm not saying there aren't others, I just don't know about them -- feel free to fill me in in the comments).
Kathleen has two cases to work here, a personal vendetta to pursue, and some personal/personnel issues to deal with. Not a bad day's reading. Although, really everything sort of fits in the personal vendetta category, come to think of it -- but she's only paid for 2 of them. First, she's watching the Halloween parade, just to see her friend Dolly and other drag queens perform on the float advertising their club. While she's watching, the float explodes -- her friend survives, but not everyone does. The club owner hires Kathleen to track down whoever sabotaged the float. There's a pretty good reason to suspect foul play, and that the police aren't taking things as seriously as they should.
The personal vendetta is related to her assigned target in the undercover operation, who is still walking around. While following up a new bit of information she's come across, she witnesses a murder. Another witness to this actually knows who she is and hires her to investigate.
Both of these cases involve Kathleen donning a few wigs (her wigs are almost as good as those used by Elizabeth and Philip on The Americans) and personalities, putting herself in harms' way, dealing with grieving families (which might be harder on her than the physical danger), and facing some unpleasant truths about herself. Although honestly, the personal/personnel issues might be the most dangerous, come to think of it.
The nature of leading a double life -- undercover cop, drag queen, upper class heir living a middle class life, etc. -- runs throughout this book and gives you a lot to think about while doing so. Yet, Wright doesn't beat you over the head with it, you could probably ignore it if you wanted to.
This was a well-written, well-paced and engaging mystery novel, with a narrator that I thoroughly enjoyed and was intrigued by. Kathleen is the kind of detective that Ellie Hatcher wants to be, and Lydia Chin would be if circumstances and ethnicity were different. I want to read more of her, soon. I hope I get the chance.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for this post/my honest thoughts. I'd like to thank her for the book and for her patience, I took too long with this.