I don’t remember the last time I read an lgbtqa+ erotica murder mystery poetic book. For this reason, I can’t deny that Dorothy Porter’s The Monkey Mask is slightly original. Apart from the interesting style, most the story is predictable and even a little awkward. Watch the self-confessed ‘dyke’ Jill Fitzpatrick investigate the murder of uni student Mickey Noris and fall into a sexual relationship with Mickey’s teacher Diana.
Jill Fitzpatrick, even though she’s a bit stereotypical, is very cool. She’s a tough woman who is open with her sexuality and I found myself rooting for her. Even though there were a few questionable moments, I found myself making an excuse for her. If you don’t see my reasoning behind the excuse, it’s find. Maybe it’s just because I enjoyed the irony of a poetic first person book done via a character who hates poetry. I’m not saying that Jill is the most complex and realistic character in the world. Hell, I can even see the argument of her being a lazy stereotypical lesbian. I just know that I liked her.
The other characters weren’t as developed as they should be. It’s the curse of writing it through poetry. We get to know a bit about Mickey through her poetry. I even tried to write a section of a poem up for you, but I’m too prudish. Diana is… also stereotypical. She is the kind of bisexual that people in the 90s would write. There needed to be more heart for me to care about her. I can’t even remember the names of the other characters, which goes to show how forgettable there are. There just needed to be less porn and more character development.
A focus of The Monkey’s Mask is sex, and it is so hard to get that right. Most of the times, authors include awkward lines that take you out of the experience. This is what happened multiple times throughout book. Yes, quite a few were good, even intentionally a little bit devoid of emotion, but there are the occasional sentences that destroys any emotion other than humour. I remember one line talking about teeth gnashing together as they make out. The annoying part is that other bits were so good. If they had just gotten rid of the few awkward lines, it would have been a lot better.
The mystery isn’t that much of a mystery. It’s established early on who the most likely suspect is and of course, it was right. This would be linked with the title and it goes into an idea, but I always think the story should come first. If it’s a murder mystery, it should be a little bit more mysterious. The other suspects did not feel like they were actual suspects as there was only superficial evidence. Maybe if there was something more substantial on them, it would take a bit more of a mystery.
Now for the actual poetry. I’m not a buff in that area, but I found it ok. There was not a lot of depth to the poems, but it sort of works with the story. When some writers go into a lot of detail and emotion throughout the poems, it’s hard to keep track of what is actually going on. However, because of this I only experienced one or two ‘wow’ moments after reading a poem. There just had to be a few more to make the book stand out.
This book started out as an interesting read but once the action started, it maintained itself until the end with no changes or development. I will give it 5.2/10.
Question: What was the last poem you read?