Since adolescence, Bravura and salt of the earth Susie have been partners in magic and best friends, as well as occasional bedmates. But when the two performers hire the mysterious and alluring Lena as a third banana to jazz up the act, Bravura falls madly in love. Lena believes in magic and not just the rabbit-out-of-a hat kind. She encourages Bravura to believe in her own supernatural powers, and when Susie balks, conflict ensues. Things really go south during the classic Disappearing Box act, when Susie disappears for real. With her pal presumed dead, and Bravura the prime suspect, the magician must act quickly to find Susie hopefully alive! To prove her innocence, Bravura must uncover the holes in her own story even if it means incriminating herself, and her precious Lena, in the process."
The Great Bravura has a gritty noir feel of a 'Perry Mason' (the old b&w series) or to use a more recent example, the 'Mad Men' series. The characters are stark and larger than life, and I could see and feel the early to mid 20th century when I read the book.
I do have an issue or two with the book, though. There is way too much emphasis on sex for my taste. Some may say it's because it features a romance between or amongst, if you count Susie) women. The truth is I don't want to see any graphic PDAs (public displays of affection), regardless of who makes up the participants.
Once Lena enters the picture, Bravura behaves like a love-struck teenager. The only thing (or person) she can think of is Lena. For me, the storyline begins to get muddied in and secondary to the description of sexual attraction, fantasies and acts. Does the author seek to entertain or arouse her audience?
Once Susie takes a powder, the story gains top hand again. I stuck with it because I made an agreement to review the book. If I had not, I might not have made it past Susie's disappearance.
I'm not saying Bravura is not a good book, and want to make that clear. Just because a book is not something I might search out, has no bearing on the quality of the book. (Ok, there is one exception, but this book is not it. That is another story for another day.)
I felt a lot of sympathy for Susie. She is like the wife who watches her marriage fall apart in front of her eyes. Been there, done that. It sucks.
Bottom line for me? If you like a noir story with a lot (!) of heat and are not put off by the fact that it is all female, you will like The Great Bravura. If any of those elements are not your cup of tea, keep looking through the shelves.
MEET THE AUTHOR
Jill Dearman is the author of Bang the Keys (Penguin), a book for writers, as well as Queer Astrology for Men and Queer Astrology for Women (St. Martins), which will be reissued by MacMillan. She is a broadly published journalist and award-winning prose writer whose work has been published in New York Stories, North Atlantic Review, The Portland Review, Lilith, and numerous other publications. A native New Yorker, mystic-about-town, and lifelong film fanatic, she enjoys taking imaginative forays along the seedy side of the street.
Disclosure: I received a print copy of this book from the author and publishers via BookSparks in exchange for my honest and unbiased review. Click on the banner to go to the tour site.