The Bottom Line: A dazzling debut that will leave fans eagerly anticipating the return of Jackson’s cunning heroine.
In Naked Came the Detective, an escort-turned-amateur sleuth investigates the stabbing of a client named “Ben” (she uses fictitious names to protect her clients). The police’s theory is that Ben, an overextended real estate tycoon, surprised a mugger in an alley near his office, resulting in his murder. But our narrator – whose name is never revealed – isn’t so sure.
Through conversations with other clients and fellow sex workers, she learns that Ben had plenty of enemies. Could he have been running a Ponzi scheme? For reasons even she doesn’t understand at first, she’s willing to risk everything to discover the identity of his killer.
Written in the form of a found memoir with annotations from another client named “Chris,” author Glendall C. Jackson III hooks us immediately with our heroine’s first-person narrative. Unlike typical sex worker characters, Jackson’s protagonist is fully in control of her life. Early in her career, favorable client reviews established her as one of the top 100 escorts in the D.C. area. Now in her late 30s, she’s successful enough to own a colonial-era home in Old Town Alexandria. That’s not merely a refreshing approach – it’s also a practical one when it comes to solving a mystery. As she gets closer to solving the murder, it’s clear that her network of clients and associates are far more open to her lines of inquiry than they would be to a conventional detective. Perhaps that’s why, unlike a standard 500-page police procedural, she’s able to solve the case in this fast-paced 93-page novella.
Kudos to Jackson for Chris’ witty, insightful annotations. Not only is he endearingly vulnerable (“I searched property records to discover her real name and birth year….it was unforgivable to do that”), he’s also highly informative as he continuously decodes the language and terminology of the sex work industry.
Let’s hope Jackson’s heroine will return for another adventure.