Provincetown Follies, Bangkok Blues
“Easily makes it into my top five reads of the year….”
A mysterious fire sweeps through the commercial district of Provincetown, Massachusetts, and the police hypothesize that the blaze was set to cover up the murder of Big Al Costelano, a notorious P-town playboy, real estate tycoon, and mobster. The prime suspect is the victim’s estranged half-Vietnamese, half-African American, drag queen lover, Tuki Aparecio.
Michael DeCastro, a Portuguese American, former fifth-generation commercial fisherman, is Tuki’s court-appointed attorney. Up until now, DeCastro has thrived on doing good deeds like tenant-landlord arbitration or representing the underprivileged in divorce and custody battles. He is thoroughly unprepared for the likes of Tuki and the whole pack of nasty little secrets trailing behind her from Bangkok’s notorious tenderloin zone, the Patpong.
Knowing he should remove himself from the case, DeCastro finds himself both frustrated and intrigued by this dragon lady of 10,000 mysteries. And even though the evidence suggests otherwise, he believes Tuki is innocent. Unless DeCastro finds the creeps who framed her for the fire and murder, Tuki will die in prison, and he just can’t let that happen.
“Peffer (Killing Neptune’s Daughter) explores sexual ambiguity in this offbeat legal procedural/whodunit. Callow public defender Michael DeCastro undergoes a baptism of fire with his first murder case: the defendant, Tuki Aparecio, is a Provincetown drag queen from Thailand (via Vietnam) accused of killing her lover, Alby Costelano, before setting a fire to cover her traces. Despite himself-and his imminent wedding to an increasingly annoyed fiancée-DeCastro finds his feelings toward his client evolving into romantic ones, which lands him in some compromising positions. The narrative alternates between Michael’s sexually confused point-of-view and Tuki’s flashbacks to her dark past in Bangkok and to the events leading up to the crime. Some readers may have difficulty sympathizing with Tuki’s melodrama (e.g., suicide attempts, lovers’ tantrums) and Michael’s naïveté, but fans of Jonathan Ames’s The Extra Man and other gender-bending fiction should be intrigued.
“Tuki Aparecio, a popular drag entertainer in Provincetown, Massachusetts, is arrested for arson and murder. The defense attorney assigned to represent Tuki, Michael DeCastro, immediately realizes that this will be no easy case: his client’s life is full of mysteries, most of which he is not keen to divulge. Less a murder mystery than a journey of discovery, the book is really a story of the slow road from suspicion to trust. As the drag-queen Tuki and the vaguely homophobic Michael circle each other, philosophically speaking, they find common ground, and Michael surprises himself by his willingness to sacrifice his own career to keep his client out of jail. An intriguing, offbeat mystery.”
“[a] seductive tale that, while obviously not for everybody, will appeal to those willing to cross over to the dark side.”
“A relentless page-turner, Peffer’s novel is a deliciously twisty hybrid of Chinatown and The Crying Game.”
“Easily makes it into my top five reads of the year…if my prayers are answered, this book will be only the beginning of the story of Michael DeCastro.”
“Provincetown Follies Bangkok Blues, is wonderful, and deserves a place in your bookcase alongside Chandler, Cain, Hammett and Woolrich.”
—The Barnstable Patrio
“There’s been a healthy amount of buzz about Peffer’s newest tale (after KILLING NEPTUNE’S DAUGHTER) and it’s easy to see why: the narrative has a furious drive, there’s a grand sense of weirdness to the point of hallucination, and the net effect is that it’s damn good — except for poor Michael, the lawyer sucked into a not-so-ordinary murder case that totally messes with his head, his life and possibly his existence.”