Friday, August 10, 2007
Killer in Drag, by Ed Wood, Jr.
(pb; 1965: prequel to Death of a Transvestite)
From the back cover:
"Impeccably attired in either gender, assassin-for-hire Glenn becomes Glenda when it's time for the dirty work. But Glendea wants out of the murder racket. She hightails it with the cops and the mob on her trail.
"Donning dapper menswear or slipping into stilettos and angora sweaters, Glen/Glenda falls in with hopped-up carnies, slinky prostitutes, and local-yokel sheriffs. But little does Glenda known that a red-haired dressed-to-killer -- with lips and nails to match -- is tracking her. The mob figures it takes one to know one..."
Wood's tale about a cross-dressing hitman is sleazy and ultra-noiresque, his prose trenchant and tautly wrought (with Wood's trademark, occasional kitschy asides resinating the sordid mix). Anyone expecting the supposed awfulness of Wood's cinematic ouevre will probably be disappointed to discover that Wood was actually a good writer, when his imagination was not compromised by budgetary constraints.
This isn't the best noir novel I've read, but it's one of the kitschiest (in a good way), and its tough-as-a-PMSing-motorcycle-dyke prose rings true.
Great shadowy read, this, with a semi-cliffhanger finish that provides an explicit lead-in to its follow-up novel, Death of a Transvestite.