Book Review: “The Killer Wore Leather” by Laura Antoniou

KillerWoreLeatherCoverWhat do you do when you’re an acclaimed writer of some of the hottest erotica on the bookshelf? Well, if you’re Laura Antoniou, author of “The Marketplace Series” and also behind some of the more (in)famous speeches around our leather/kink community[1], you write a mystery/murder novel. But not just any novel, Laura has written a book that captures the reader with an interesting puzzle, and also pauses to poke a LOT of fun holes into the memes, celebrities and activities of “WIITWD.”

The book starts off on a fast clip, throwing the reader into the slightly crazed, slightly off-kilter world of “Mr & Ms. Global Leather (and Bootblack) Contest.” Set in New York, in the fictitious “Grand Sterling Hotel”, the contest features two titleholders who hate each other, a producer who is barely able to keep on top of the out-of-control events, a cast of kinky, crazy folks that anyone who’s spent 5 minutes at a leather event or sci-fi convention would recognize… and a detective who has to solve a murder before the whole event weekend ends. Not any easy task, especially with the world that Laura has created. The book focuses mainly on the producer, the detective and a news reporter who finds herself involve in the story of the year – the murder of a titleholder who was hated by everyone, surrounded by a hotel full of furries, pups, bootblacks and “Zodians.” Even the Westboro Church makes an appearance – as the Western Harrisburg Alliance Church of Our Savior (WHACOS).

Laura deftly pokes good-natured holes at almost every aspect of our little leather/kink community and does it in a way that leaves you laughing, but in the back of your head, you’re feeling that twinge of “OK, OK, you got me.”  She spares nobody – looking at bootblacks (“It’s OK, nobody gets the bootblacks” one says after a very confusing discussion with a detective), examining the participants in a leather title contest, poking a little fun at some of the more … flamboyant of niches (as soon as you read the descriptions of the Zodian Clans, you’ll understand) and even managing to have some fun with just about every gender identity, sexual orientation, kink, interest and activity that you can imagine.

The neat trick is that with all the satire, her characters have the feel of people that you’d (mostly) want to know in real life. The main characters are rich with flaws, but very likeable. There are a couple of very interesting and human subplots that make this book become multidimensional. She does it in a wonderful way and I think that’s where she was at her best – revealing that underneath all the leather, latex, costume, glitz and glamor, there are people who really just want to have some sexy fun.

If you can’t tell, I really enjoyed this book! I found it hilarious and a decent murder mystery. I think whether you’re a 30-year “Olde Guarde” veteran of the leather bar, or someone who just discovered kink, this book is going to entertain you, as it doesn’t require insider knowledge, but it definitely rewards you if you’re the slightest bit familiar with the titleholder circuit, or Fetlife, or BDSM event scene. This book clocks in at 402 pages, but it is a fast read. I bought the dead tree version, but you can get it in just about any format available… and if the publisher manages to get Karen Ultra-Domme to do the audio version, I’m so there, because I swear I could hear her voice reading this to me the entire time!

“The Killer Wore Leather” by Laura Antoniou, Cleis Press – ISBN 978-1-57344-930-4

[1] If you are curious, do a Google Search for “LAURA, LEATHER, AND LIFE” and click on the link from sexuality.org. You’ll see that same fierce Laura reflected in Killer, if you look closely.