Backstabbing, sabotage, punishment, betrayal, and the contest hasn’t even started yet.
The Killer Wore Leather, the new murder mystery novel by well-known BDSM erotica writer Laura Antoniou, takes place in the frantic and dramatic world of Mr. and Ms. Global Leather (and Bootblack). An international competition to determine which individuals amongst the fetish world are the most appropriate role models to represent their community.
From a first look at the cover it’s immediately apparent that this isn’t your usual kind of murder mystery; it takes place in a setting never before utilized by crime authors, the language and characters are of the theme that usually only appear as cameos to spice up humdrum novels and television drama, and the relationships between characters are the kinds that are usually vilified in mainstream media instead of embraced.
The story takes place within the hotel hosting Mr. and Ms. Global Leather (and Bootblack), a prestigious event within the larger BDSM(Bondage/Discipline/Sadism/Masochism) and fetish community of America, where a group of entrants are working to get themselves proclaimed Mr or Ms Global leather (the Bootblacks having their own contest). Earning this title means a year of publicity, sponsorship, clothes and other prizes. Something not at all dissimilar from all of the other personality contests around the world.
Amongst the bitterness and scandal that is traditional amongst contests of this calibre the previous Mr Global Leather, Mack Steel, is murdered in an almost ritualistic fashion not long after viciously insulting another contestant and his partners. Leaving a distraught boyfriend and ambivalent community behind. Detective Feldblum, the unfortunately nicknamed “Dyke Detective” is sent to investigate the murder because of her sexuality, and is drawn into a world far beyond her experience.
At it’s very core The Killer Wore Leather is a proper murder mystery of the old school. A true whodunit comprising of multiple suspects, constant twists, and a shifting narrative that does far more than just flesh out the setting. Beyond that it is a clever exploration of a world full of different language and social hierarchies, of subcultures with subcultures.
Antoniou’s writing is witty, dirty and full of linguistic trickery. Her characters are deep and full of personality, often to the point of dragging the story in their direction for a page or two. And her settings full of fleshy details that make it very easy to picture what is really going on.
While the setting for this novel may be an unusual one, the BDSM world not getting much favourable publicity usually, it is far from the profligate freak show most mainstream media portrays. There is the chaos of major event management. Several smaller tales of lust and romance. Jokes about human gullibility and psychology. And plenty of cameos by the book’s author that truly embody her twisted sense of humour and self-deprecation.
The Killer Wore Leather is a damn fun book. It’s a great crime novel. It makes you laugh constantly whether or not you really understand what is going on. Does a great job of teaching the reader that people are just people whatever they are into. And is incredibly hard to put down once started, a trait that I find wonderful in a modern novel.
A book full of new words, different ideas, and confronting experiences, The Killer Wore Leather holds you by the scruff of the neck and leaves you begging for more.