cover image The Black Stiletto: Secrets & Lies: The Fourth Diary—1961

The Black Stiletto: Secrets & Lies: The Fourth Diary—1961

Raymond Benson. Oceanview (Midpoint, dist.), $26.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-60809-101-0

Judy Cooper (aka the Black Stiletto) meets Leo Kelly, a suave ladies’ man in New York City, who persuades her to relocate to Los Angeles, in Benson’s appealing fourth novel featuring the masked vigilante (after 2013’s The Black Stiletto: Stars and Stripes). The LAPD proves more willing than the NYPD to accept unconventional allies like Judy, but disillusionment comes in the form of two gradual epiphanies: Leo not only is incapable of making the commitment Judy yearns for but is also a ruthless criminal, the Black Stiletto’s natural prey. Judy is canny and skilled enough to stay alive while tackling gun-wielding thugs, though she is armed with only a knife, but she’s not insightful enough to realize that she’s once again dating the villain. Reminiscent of heroes from the Golden Age of comics like the Black Canary and Lady Luck, thrill-seeking Judy makes an endearing protagonist. Agent: Peter Miller, Global Lion. (Jan.)