cover image The Black Stiletto: The First Diary%E2%80%941958

The Black Stiletto: The First Diary%E2%80%941958

Raymond Benson. Oceanview (Midpoint, dist.), $25.95 (280p) ISBN 978-1-60809-020-4

At the start of this disappointing thriller from Benson (Evil Hours), 48-year-old Martin Talbot learns from a confessional letter that his 72-year-old, Alzheimer's-afflicted mother, Judy, wrote years earlier that she was the Black Stiletto, "[o]ne of the most famous people on the planet," a costumed vigilante who began to operate in New York City in 1958. Extracts from Judy's diary tell her story. When puberty hits, Judy Cooper finds she has superhuman vision and hearing as well as an "intuition" that can tell her whether a person is good or bad. After being sexually abused by her stepfather, she flees her Texas home for the Big Apple, where she finds someone willing to teach her boxing. When the gangster she falls for is killed, Judy, inspired by reading a Batman comic, adopts the persona of the costumed hero to take on the mob. Fans of Alan Moore's work incorporating superheroes into a realistic world will find this similar effort doesn't measure up. (Sept.)