The Black Stiletto: Black & White: The Second Diary (The Black Stiletto Series)
Raymond Benson is the author of over 24 published books, including several original James Bond novels and three Bond novelizations. Among the works of this bestselling author are Evil Hours, Face Blind, and A Hard Day’s Death. Add the novelization of the very popular video games, Metal Gear Solid and Metal Gear Solid 2 to the several nonfiction books and one begins to see the breadth and width of Mr. Benson’s talent.
Now comes his latest thriller, The Black Stiletto. The storyline is that of female vigilante, Judy Cooper. She is a highly intuitive person with super hearing and exceptional strength—a contemporary Wonder Woman minus the golden girdle and lasso.
As a moral character, Judy Cooper is flawed. Taking the law into her own hands, seeking revenge for those whom she perceives as having been treated unjustly, and harboring a deep seated desire to kill her stepfather, Cooper justifies her actions by saying, “What’s wrong with fighting crime and protecting the innocent?” Author Benson doesn’t answer that question—and since he doesn’t he leaves the reader in a moral quagmire.
It is that moral dilemma that demands a second look at Judy Cooper. Turn her over a few degrees, look beneath her hardened exterior, and there the reader finds she has room for love, compassion, and a fierce loyalty that demands the reader’s respect.
Martin Talbot, Judy’s son who makes the discovery his mother is the infamous Black Stiletto, is an irrelevant character, and is poorly developed. The question of his father’s identity is unanswered as is the change in his mother’s name from Cooper to Talbot. Mr. Benson should have kept the hardened, revenge seeking Mafia enforcer Roberto Rancelli as the moving interloper of his novel.
The ending, lacking climactic overtones, falls flat leaving the reader with a yawn instead of a wow.
And yet, despite these structural weaknesses, Raymond Benson manages to weave a good story.