While the kidnapping provides the novel’s tense moments and daring escape scenes, it’s Vera’s restrained yet sensitive narration that holds attention, betraying her insecurities, even as she pursues her case—and a new love interest ... an intricate mystery featuring love, corruption, and a charming and capable heroine.
This novel is heavily steeped in ’60s atmosphere, and Knecht does an excellent job of evoking the climate of the times and shaping her novel around lethal Cold War politics—mentions of Haight-Ashbury, liberal hippie sex, and Vietnam napalm set the tone ... Knecht writes with dry wit and honesty. This is a small book, but extensive in its ability to tell a story with a PI who is like no one you’ve never met! Intelligent, saucy, and heroic Vera is also vulnerable at heart, and her reasons for doggedly trying to reunite parents and child lie in her own need for hearth and home―and love. I’m eagerly awaiting Vera Kelly’s next adventure. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the 1960s.
... what returns without fail in the second book is the sedate, unfazed, outward-looking, withholding narration that, in an age of dominance of the psychological novel, I’ve come to crave ... Vera is of course not untouched by the situations she finds herself in, but she is not paralyzed. It’s the price of being in business, as it were. Perhaps a protagonist who won’t stay wounded and self-pitying — or, if you want to put it less generously, who doesn’t spend much time on introspection — is a requirement in the detective genre ... We do separate in stages, not by a fiat, and often grow attached to new people in fits, starts, and misunderstandings, and Knecht is as truthful as can be on that. There is some prudishness, or let’s say reserve, about desire, however. Who’s bottoming, topping, or switching, who is the more insistent one on which occasion: we are not privy. Women’s bodies are not described in the way a narrator who desires women’s bodies would usually think of them. It’s an absence. While Vera is not exactly the most self-scrutinizing of people, she would certainly — even if only privately, in her own head — possess a vocabulary for her desires.
Knecht’s writing is evocative and spare, stylish and brooding, making this mystery series compulsively readable and offering a refreshing spin on atmospheric noir with a compelling queer historical frame.
... excellent ... Knecht brilliantly captures Vera’s emotions, and shines with keen observations of the varied settings. This winning literary page-turner gives a strong sense of a smart, queer, and complex person navigating an unfriendly world.
Knecht uses this second book to delve more into Vera’s personal life and history while also deftly balancing the host of characters related to the mystery. Knecht’s prose is expansive in Vera’s moments of introspection and lively in moments of action, and she moves easily between Vera’s first-person narration and third-person scenes regarding the missing boy. Readers will be thrilled by Vera Kelly’s return ... A worthy and welcome continuation of a subversive series.