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That's All I Read: TURNBULL HOUSE by Jess Faraday


Jess Faraday

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (February 16, 2014)

If you read THE AFFAIR OF THE PORCELAIN DOG you know the
characters that make up the basis of this novel, Ira Adler, and his villainous lover,
.  Ira was a street
prostitute who was taken in by Goddard but had to leave the lap of luxury when
Goddard’s criminal involvement became too much for him.  It is now a few years later, and Ira has
been on the board of Turnbuvll House, a place where children forced onto the
street can have a second chance.  Someone
has made an offer to buy the building however, and Turnbull House may
close.  Ira turns to Goddard for a loan
reluctantly and gets embroiled in intrigue that might rival his involvement
before.  He gets the loan and agrees to
establishing some way for the organization to pay for itself and to doing
certain favors for Goddard, namely delivering odd assortments of flowers to two
sugar factory men who wind up dead.  One
of these men is the father of Jack Flip, a girl disguised as a boy who comes to
live at Turnbull House and may just be its savior.

This is a wonderfully intriguing and involving novel, more
so than its prequel.  The complexity not
only of the mysteries but of Ira’s reaction to them and to Goddard is original
and entirely credible.  You hear this
tale in Ira’s own words, and Jess Faraday does something not many writers I’ve read
can pull off, and that is staying within the narrator’s limited view of the
situation and how the situation should affect him.  There is usually evidence of a wider
perspective that clouds the story.  Not

I enjoyed the character of Jack, arguably a transmboy,
though of course we run into the ambiguity of gender in his case.  He seems to me to have adopted boy’s clothes
and a boy’s persona for safety, but as I am becoming aware, the chance to live
in a man’s world is seductive.  He may go
back to being Cathy.  He may stay Jack
and become a lesbian.  Or, as as I hope
he does, he may become a true transman and see himself as a man, perhaps even
wanting a man as a partner.  The ambiguity
of the situation comes up in novel after anovel, and as a gay transman, I am
ancious to find characters like myself.

The other characters, the detective St. Andrews and his idol
Arthur Conan Doyle, the couple who run Turbull House, and the theater director
Bram Stoker are just a few of the tantalizing characters, real or imagined,
that Faraday brings for the  reader’s

And the time and place are wonderfully accurate, full of
historical detail well worth soaking up.

This book is a treat, no matter how you look at it.. and the
story isn’t over yet!

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