Meaker, Marijane (writing as Vin Packer). “Scott Free”, Carroll & Graf, 2007.
A Transgender Detective
It looks like I am becoming a fan of mystery novels. I have read about eight in the last two weeks. “Scott Free” by Marijane Meaker is one of the best of them. I have always been a sucker for stories that are set in those neighborhoods I read about but never have a chance to live there myself. The Hamptons where this novel is set is one such place.
This isn’t just a mystery—it is extremely fast paced and makes you keep reading until the very end. It is the story of Len Lasher, a wealthy businessman who discovers that he has ALS (better known as Lou Gherig’s disease). And the timing is all wrong. It comes upon him just as he is working on a really big deal which would lose a lot of value were he to die. At the same time, someone is hatching a plan to kidnap his daughter (Deanie). In exchange for receiving his daughter back, the kidnapper’s have requested a ransom of a piece of jewelry that had once belonged to the late Duchess of Windsor. Lasher’s wife has the piece now.
Scotti, a transgendered detective, comes on the scene when Lasher’s daughter has been taken away. Scotti and his ex-wife unite Scotti’s ex has been investigating a horse owner whose horses seem to have killed in order to collect the insurance for the horse’s death. Scotti meets Delroy, Lasher’s Amish and faithful servant, who has been banished from his religious community. It is also discovered that although Scotti is “transgendered” and very feminine, she (he) has not had the cash to complete the gender reassignment surgery. At the same time, Lasher’s best friend, a famous novelist, has come to the Lasher estate to be among the privileges. Suddenly life becomes weird for all and of course, a crisis ensues and the suspense builds.
I realize that the above plot summation may be hard to follow but I can assure that the novel is not. It is a tour de force of mystery writing and one that will have you turning pages as you try to figure out exactly what is going on.
Meaker is an amazing writer. The plot is fluid and keeps you guessing. The entire concept of the book is original and Meaker’s prose holds you prisoner as you rapidly turn the leaves of the book.