Tuesday, August 16, 2011
The Platypus Ploy by Claire McNab
Publisher: Alyson Books
Once again Claire McNab shows her talent for wrapping a mystery in humor. McNab is one of our "founding mothers" who never seems to get the credit or recognition for what she's done for lesbian literature. She never pretends she's writing the great lesbian novel. She just writes good books. With her Kylie Kendall series, she's struck pure gold. Anyone who has not read any of the other books in the Kylie Kendall series has missed a treat.
The Platypus Ploy is the fifth book in the series and opens with Kylie, transplanted Australian and detective in training, preparing to work undercover in a retirement home for show business stars. Someone is embezzling money and Kylie's agency has been hired to find out who it is. This brings her in contact with outrageous individuals, including a Shakespearean ham, a faded matinee idol, and a former Hollywood beauty queen who has a voracious appetite for women.
Unfortunately, before the investigation can proceed very far, someone kidnaps Ariana Creeling, Kylie's partner in the agency and the woman she adores. Kylie is sure that someone at the home knows what has happened and that to rescue Ariana, she's going to have to solve the mystery, but getting anyone to talk is extremely difficult. Things take an even darker turn when it becomes clear that Ariana's disappearance is connected to someone who has been stalking Kylie and making death threats. Kylie knows she's in a race against time and the reward is Ariana's life.
The series is peopled with a great supporting cast of characters, including Melodie, the receptionist-soon-to-be-major-star, who uses her network of receptionists to know everything before the Office of Homeland Security; Fran, the self-appointed office manager, who insists on having disaster drills for The Big One, whether it's a nuclear attack or general terrorist mayhem, and Julia Roberts, the cat who rules the office and torments Lonnie the computer geek. This book also includes, besides the entertainment has-beens, a psychic who keeps things stirred up.
The ways the characters interact are totally authentic and lead you to believe that you're in the midst of real people. One of the best lines in The Platypus Ploy is when Kylie lets loose with several Australian sayings and Fran says to her that she hasn't understood a word she's said and she's been meaning to tell her for some time that she usually doesn't. The way McNab words it is hilarious. As an Australian who has lived in the US for a long time, she's probably encountered that problem herself.
If you haven't read any of the previous books, you really should start at the beginning with The Wombat Strategy, then go to The Kookaburra Gambit, The Quokka Question and The Dingo Dilemma. The development of the characters is progressive in the books, and unlike some series, you don't get the same story over and over with just a different title. If you have read the other books, The Platypus Ploy feels like coming back to old friends, but friends who always have something new to show you. This keeps the books interesting instead of stagnant.
If you like a good mystery that will also have you laughing, you'll love these books.