Freelance news journalist Cat Marsala trades a hot meal for an inside scoop on prostitution in the city of Chicago, when a working girl she interviewed is murdered. The courtroom is full of sex workers when Cat shows up looking to interview subjects for a news story. Cat is dead tired but not as dead as Saundra love whose face is all over the news. Cat feels guilty even if the rest of the world doesn't care about a dead hooker.
Cat knows the rules. Those arrested for solicitation get bonded over in four days and by then they are tired of the rough meals served as they await release. She needs information for a story and she is willing to pay for a nice hot lunch. She won't provide them with the other thing they want: a hot bath, but lunches she can do. Saundra Lupita or “Saundra Love” as she likes to be called agrees to be interviewed.
Cat explains that she is doing a for a TV essay on what it is really like to work the streets and wants to get a birds eye view for readers. She tells Saundra this is a chance to tell her side of the story. She'd just watched ten women fork over money to the court system where lawyers may show up and will likely do a half assed job for their clients.
Saundra is nineteen and addicted to cocaine. She tells Cat she agreed to the free meal because it helps when she hasn't used. Being locked up for four days hasn't provided the opportunity. The interview is kind of basic. She answers the questions of how she got started: no skills, no high school diploma, thrown out of the house as a teen, and rent has to be paid. Cat assumes the scenario fits the bill for a lot of women in Saundra's line of work.
Her next interview is with Wharton a undercover vice cop. He wants the free meal too. He escorts Cat to a club around dinner time. He tells her about the patron and workers. High end call girls and those that work for less, much less. He points out it has a lot to do with drug of choice. He's brash and doesn't have much respect for women. Cat is coming from a different angle and refuses to believe that people do the risky business of dirty sex work because they love their job.
Cat's boyfriend John is not happy when he and Saundra arrive at Cat's apartment at the same time. Saundra is there because her boyfriend has cracked her face. John is there to spend some time with his girl. He even has flowers and chocolates. He is not happy when Cat tells him that Saundra will be spending the night. He thinks she is high (she may be she uses coke) and she is casing the apartment. He wants her to go somewhere else. Unfortunately, he doesn't pay Cat's bills. Saundra will stay the night.
It works to her advantage because Saundra is so grateful she agrees to do the interview the next morning at Cat's place. Felipe, the camera man shows up and she is filmed complete with her bruises. Saundra works for an escort service and answers all of Cat's questions in complete sentences which helps the process immensely. Her biggest expenses are cocaine and clothes, the two habits are keeping her having money to go to school. She wants to study archeology. She dropped out of high school her senior year, when her mom died after being punched by Saundra's father and falling down a flight of stairs. He threatened Saundra with foster care if she told anyone. A smart girl she enjoyed theater and was cast in her school's production of Hamlet.
Saundra's murderer was Wharton, the brash talking sexist vice cop that shouldn't have been anywhere around women. She and her mother both contracted the AIDS virus from her father. Wharton, the dirty cop held that against her, too. Cat's TV essay topped the ratings because Saundra's story was so honestly real and painful.
Best part of story, including ending:
I liked that Cat was able to expose the working conditions of sex workers.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was when Wharton was found to be the murder.
Opinion about the main character:
I liked that Cat stuck to her guns and showed her interviewees as real people with real problems.