Review: Tarnished Gold, by Ann Aptaker (Rating: 4/5)

aptaker-tarnished-goldTarnished Gold, by Ann Aptaker (Cantor Gold, Book 2)
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (September 14, 2015)
Page Count: 240 pages
Genre: Lesbian (F/F) Mystery

Rating: 4 out of 5

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It’s rare that I picture a book as a movie in my mind, but the entire time I was reading “Tarnished Gold” I kept picturing a classic black and white noir film, with the dapper and cunning protagonist hunting down clues to save the day.

But this isn’t your average noir crime thriller, and Cantor Gold isn’t your average character. She’s on the wrong side of the law on two counts: she’s a smuggler, and she prefers the company of women.

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I went back and forth between liking Cantor and hating her during the first few chapters. She’s not a nice person, as even she’ll tell you, and her bravado tends to get her into more trouble than she intended.

I also struggled at the beginning with the first person present tense. I’m just not used to it, so it was distracting.

But after the plot started to pick up, I realized that Cantor was the kind of noir detective that you love to hate (flawed, rough, and selfish), and the writing improved significantly.

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Plot-wise, there’s a lot going on here, and at times I felt like it was almost too much.

Cantor is trying to solve the mystery of who killed one of her clients, and she has half a dozen people gunning for her (literally!)… not to mention a handful of gorgeous women to sleep with. There’s also a plot about Cantor trying to track down the men who grabbed her lover, Sophie, off the street two years before. Aptaker did a great job of weaving all of these threads together, but a few snags definitely caught my attention.

I do wish we’d had more of Cantor’s feelings toward Sophie peppered throughout the action, though. It’s what makes Cantor human, and it’s what makes her redeemable. I’m glad that Cantor wasn’t a weeping mess over her lost love, but I would have liked to see a bit more of their relationship hinted at.

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This was a really enjoyable novel. I love a strong female character, especially in a time period where such things were still strange. The 1950s New York setting was great, and the slang was perfect for setting the tone without being too strange. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series for sure!

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