Book Review by Kate Horsley
K.A. Laity’s White Rabbit is an original take on an established genre, re-imagining the downbeat noir private dick as a psychic, and not just any old psychic either, but a real psychic masquerading as a charlatan. Just to keep things (even more) interesting, Laity fuses the tropes of hardboiled noir with the surreal imagery of Alice in Wonderland, creating an idiosyncratic world that is simultaneously colourful and gritty, comic and mysterious.
The narrative centres on former detective James Draygo who has reached something of a personal low after a case gone bad. He’s down, he’s on drugs (Fairy Dust amongst other poisons) and he’s taking on jobs as a sham clairvoyant in spite of his actual ability to speak to the dead.
When his latest client – a comically tacky femme fatale and the wife of a famous gangster – is killed in front of him mid-séance, Draygo ends up in the frame. In order to save himself, he teams up with journalist Saunders who has her own reasons to discover the truth behind the murder and unravel the mystery of the titular White Rabbit.
On top of his own quest, the ghost of the murdered trophy wife won’t let Draygo alone until he finds out what the White Rabbit is and why she was murdered. The paranormal PI’s ability to see dead people helps him turn up clues, but it’s his own human frailty that threatens to stand in the way of his redemption.
Laity’s writing is punchy and readable and she has a knack for slang and banter. The whole style of the genre mash-up keeps the reader on their toes, because with noir, the supernatural and the Carroll-bunny theme all in play, we never know what’s coming next. As the story moves forward, it becomes increasingly pacy and gripping and in the final act I was glued to the spot until I finished it.
This was a very enjoyable, different read, a gripping mystery full of sly humour, witty wordplay and characters who, despite often being dead, are very fully brought to life.
K.A. Laity is an all-purpose writer, Fulbrighter, uberskiver, medievalist, flâneuse, techno-shamanka, Broad Universe & Mavens of Mayhem social media wrangler, History Witch at Pagan Square, Pirate Pub Captain currently anchored in Dundee, Scotland. Her works include WHITE RABBIT, EXTRICATE, HARD-BOILED WITCH, A CUT-THROAT BUSINESS, A LA MORT SUBITE, LUSH SITUATION, OWL STRETCHING, CHASTITY FLAME, UNQUIET DREAMS, THE CLADDAGH ICON, ROOK CHANT, PELZMANTEL, UNIKIRJA, CON-EIRE as well as editor of WEIRD NOIR and NOIR CARNIVAL. Writer of a wide variety of stories, essays, plays, and humour pieces. Also writes as C. Margery Kempe (erotic romance), Kit Marlowe (historical romance) & Graham Wynd (noir). http://www.kalaity.com