The Girls in the High-Heeled Shoes by Michael Kurland
Titan Books (February 2016)
320 pages; $12.95 paperback; ebook $7.99
Reviewed by Peter Tomas
Michael Kurland’s sequel to his debut Alexander Brass novel, Too Soon Dead, manifested itself in The Girls in the High-Heeled Shoes: a manifestation which doesn’t disappoint.
True to Brass’s innate ability to attract trouble and it’s makers, he is made aware of a deviation from the New York City norm; a well known pan-handler by the name of Two-Headed Mary has vanished, and her disappearance has caused both discomfort and distress among those who are familiar with her presence. Soon, Brass is approached by people claiming to know where she is, or people who are connected to her in one way or another. The tension grows as more people become connected and linked to the disappearance, and eventually, several people even lose their lives during the rush to find Mary.
From the first page to the last, the reader is submerged in Kurland’s quick wit, sharp humor, and informative prose, keeping true to his signature style. The descriptions of New York City from the perspective of the main character are immensely tangible and realistic, giving the entire story a highly enjoyable air of possibility. It is a murder mystery, but it is an informative, fluid, and probable one.
However, Kurland’s sequel struggles in the same aspects in which his debut Alexander Brass novel struggled; there is a crippling lack of clear and cohesive plot. All of the characters, including DeWitt, seem to wander the streets of the city aimlessly, as if in search of something they are not entirely sure exists, up until the point they accidentally stumble across a clue. Only then does the story properly progress. These advancements can prove difficult to follow, and left me re-reading passages in an attempt to get myself back on track on multiple occasions.
This hiccup, however, only affects the story itself as much as the reader permits it to. It is a hindrance, but the rest of the story makes up for it. Brass is still quick-witted and sarcastic, DeWitt is still moderately confused, everyone else is still blissfully unaware of everything that’s happening, and people still turn up dead at random intervals. Kurland has stayed true to his formula between Too Soon Dead and The Girls in the High-Heeled Shoes, and while there may be some sections of the story that stir the water, the majority is lovable, exciting, and just plain fun to read.