St. Martin's, Apr 2002, 23.95, 304 pp.
Essex City, New York Homicide Detectives Simon Goldtree and Frank Garrowey investigate the brutal murder of insurance executive Martin Stanstead when they find a tenuous link to local crime boss Alvin Landowski. However, the case abruptly ends when a smalltime punk confesses to killing Stanstead. Still, Simon's ability to empathetically determine the truth from lies tells him that this is a clever cover up.
Not taking any chances that the media darling Simon and his old fashion grind them out investigative partner continue with the inquiries, Landowski uncovers damaging information about the former. Landowski places Simon under a media microscope as he reveals that the squeaky clean Simon is a transsexual thinking of undergoing a sex change operation. Though he knows his career is over, Simon refuses to allow public and departmental pressure from stopping him from completing his investigation into the truth.
Though the unexpected is the norm from Rachel Pollack, the classic police procedural takes quite a surprising twist even for this daring author in A SECRET WOMAN. Fans of the investigative tale need to understand that one-third to a half of the story line involves the subplot focusing on Simon's “secret” moral dilemma. Though fascinating and ultimately tying back to the prime case, the mystery feels like a stepchild to this deep arc. Though not for the purists. this extremely complex and powerful novel containing a believable cast is a deep character study.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner