On 4th January I’ll be running a giveaway for Death in Heels by Kitty Murphy as part of the paperback launch blog tour, but today I’m delighted to share my review of this first book in the Dublin Drag Mysteries. My enormous thanks to Rhiannon at FmCM for sending me a copy of Death in Heels in return for an honest review.
Death in Heels will be published by Thomas & Mercer on 1st January 2023 and is available for purchase here.
These are the stops if you’d like to follow the launch tour:
Death in Heels
When Fi went to support her best friend’s drag debut, she didn’t imagine a killer would be going to watch it too. And they’re waiting for their grand finale…
Fi McKinnery is full of nerves as the gorgeous Mae B (aka her best friend Robyn) takes to the stage for her debut at drag club TRASH, but Mae B is dazzling…that is until local queen Eve lampoons her performance and ruins the show. So when Eve turns up dead later that night, face down in the gutter of a rain-soaked Dublin street, the timing seems awfully suspicious…
The police are quick to rule Eve’s death an accident, but Fi is convinced it was foul play. When her ‘Hagatha Christie’ amateur sleuthing backfires, it drives a wedge between Fi and Robyn. But when another friend is targeted in a hit-and-run, she’s determined to get this twisted killer caught, no matter what the consequences.
Even as the rest of the gang start to distance themselves, Fi is certain that they’re all in terrible danger. Something dark is lurking beneath the feathers, glitter and sequins of Dublin’s drag scene. And it’s not just the sticky floor and cracked mirrors. Someone is targeting the queens. When another member of the group is gunned down, it’s clear the danger is coming ever closer. Can Fi stop the killer before any more of her friends are hurt?
My Review of Death in Heels
Drag queens are being hunted down.
Death in Heels opens with such a bang that Kitty Murphy grabs the reader’s attention and holds them in a vice-like grip. I was instantly so invested in Robyn and Fi that had Eve not been murdered I might just have climbed in the pages and killed her myself.
There’s a chatty, conversational tone in Fi’s first person account that draws in the reader and makes them feel they are her only confidante as she tries to establish how Eve died. There’s just enough colloquialism to make the direct speech feel perfectly fitting for the Dublin setting and that lends an authenticity to the story. The descriptions are beautifully written, clear and evocative so that Kitty Murphy places vivid images in the reader’s mind, creating a filmic quality that I found rather special. They contrast too with the humorous and often vitriolic, biting, comments some of the queens make, especially to Fi, so that Death in Heels feels balanced and nuanced.
My heart went out to Fi. Although Death in Heels is a murder mystery, Fi imbues an emotional element, illustrating how it feels never quite to belong, to be permanently on the outside or periphery. Indeed, her photography places her one pace removed from others in an affecting manner, making the reader empathise with her all the more. I found her development over the story surprisingly touching and all the more effective as she is the straight character who is isolated, rather than the LGBTQ+ community members. I loved too, the way her photography didn’t usually show people’s faces as this emphasised how we tend to make assumptions and judgements about others without knowing the full facts.
The plot romps along and gives a superb insight into the world of drag queens so that I felt I learnt a lot about how their personas change with their costumes and whether they are acting as male or female, lending a fascinating psychological viewpoint too. Although the narrative is relatively light even if it is a murder story, it does consider some profound issues of loyalty, family and isolation that add layers of interest at the same time as the reader is being thoroughly entertained by the story.
Death in Heels is witty, acerbic, interesting, entertaining and moving. I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it.
About Kitty Murphy
Kitty lives with her husband, Roger, on the very westerly edge of Co. Clare, Ireland. She adores drag in all its forms and crime fiction in all its chilling splendour. Kitty is bi/queer. From a well-spent youth divided equally between the library and the LGBTQ+ scene, it was only a matter of time until both worlds collided in a flurry of fictional sequins.