Saturday, February 3, 2018

Book Review: 'Transformed' by Suzanne Falter

San Francisco author/speaker/blogger Suzanne Falter publishes her fifth novel co-writing with her cousin, retired Wall Street specialist in corporate finance and venture capital Jack Harvey who lives in both Manhattan and Connecticut. Always fascinating to encounter a work written by two authors, this book is especially fascinating because it utilizes the extra-literary talents of both and pounces on a tale of gender discrepancies/variations with a terrific sense of both mystery and humor.

To offer a sample of the writing style of Suzanne and Jack (before the story takes off) they provide a Prologue that hints at what is to come: ‘Charley ran as fast as he possibly could. He raced the mile and a half up the course toward the top of Hayes Street Hill as crowds of groggy early-morning partiers gathered to watch the race. People milled around dressed in all manner of regalia, from nude to fully costumed. Some stopped to watch him, an unexpected runner in street clothes far ahead of the front runners. In fact, the race hadn’t even started yet. Charley glanced at his watch. Two minutes clicked by, and then three. Did he still have a five-minute mile in him? Now spectators began to scream for Charley as he tore along the race course, giving it everything he had. For a moment, it reminded him of his quarterback days back with the Blue Jays when they were high school divisional champs. Somewhere behind him, he could hear sirens. Charley hastened his pace. No police car was going to break through this logjam of humanity. He hoped they had their bikes. The apartment building was just ahead. Hayes Street Hill was widely known as the best place to see the full breadth of the moving cocktail party that was the Bay to Breakers foot race. As usual, the sidewalk was packed. Little did they know that every last one of them could be dead in just a matter of moments. That is, unless Charley made it to the rooftop first. Charley reached the buzzers of the building and began pressing every button without stopping to catch his breath. Within seconds, two apartments had buzzed him in. That’s how it is on a party weekend in the city, he thought happily as he tore inside. Chaos made everything easy.’

Plenty of flavor already but on to the story, via the synopsis provided: ‘Charley McElroy is a handsome, well-heeled travel writer and CIA informant who also happens to be an F-to-M transman. And he’s been recently benched by the Agency for not paying his taxes. On the other side of San Francisco, Electra, a Manhattan socialite-turned-dominatrix has just arrived to rebuild her life. Meanwhile Frankie is a lesbian police sergeant on the outs with the SFPD and trying to recover from the death of her wife. Against all odds, the three meet and uncover a Christian fundamentalist’s plot to destroy the ‘hedonists’ of San Francisco. Together, they set out to foil the terrorist's plot – but can they get anyone to listen to them? Or are they on their own?’

This fascinating combination of transgender roles, BDSM, and the inherent joy of the San Francisco scene blend to make this a book that pleads for a followup – or since we are in a more enlightened gender age, a movie could well be the next step! Highly recommended for a very wide audience. Grady Harp, August 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.