“Death by the Riverside” by J.M. Redmann. (Bold Strokes Books, 2009.)

This is the first of the Micky Knight Mystery series. Based on the blurb, I had an inkling I would like it. It turns out I was wrong. I didn’t like it; I loved it.

Right from the get-go, the story was hilarious. Micky is a great character: sarcastic, sharp-eyed, keen of mind, and always, always cool. She’s flawed, very human, and therefore relatable. She’s wounded yet she’s also kind, deserving of a happiness that’s always just out of reach, which of course makes her sympathetic. Beyond her perspective, the author knew exactly which elements would make the story a terrific in-joke without going too far (a bar called Gertrude’s Stein made me laugh out loud), the plot kept me guessing, and plenty of action ensured things stayed lively.

The balance of dialogue to exposition (written in the character’s appealing, ironic tone) was perfect, something I noticed because I’d just read a book where that was not the case, written by someone who should know better, and the result was wooden, recurring, soap opera-type dialogue, as jarring as an out-of-tune instrument. By contrast, there wasn’t a word of this book that struck a wrong note.

One final thought. This story is heavy on what’s termed “gay agenda”. That’ll no doubt put some people off, but it’s one of the things I liked best about it. Similar to the way that someone who likes vampire stories never wearies of hearing a new one, I’m always going to want to read narratives in which a person persecuted for being gay not only survives the abuse but triumphs.This one was great, and I can’t wait to read the next installment.