What. A. Book. Finding Jackie by Lou Sylvre.
This was the third installment in the Vasquez and James series by this author (the series also included a short novella titled Yes), and I would advise reading the books in order to get the maximum benefit of the series.
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First of all, let me mention Sylvre's writing style. I know, I know, I've bragged about it very often---it's magical, lyrical, there's just something about it. How can I describe it? It's not even just the prose, but the presentation. Reading these books, the Vasquez and James delicious installments, I sort of get this light, airy but can-be-very-serious tone as though I'm listening to a delightful narrator with a very simple, very blunt and almost dry humor reading it to me. An arresting delivery like in the film Vickie Christina Barcelona. In fact, I can almost hear Giulia y Los Tellarini singing the zippy tune Barcelona as I read. How Sylvre does this is pure magic. Such serious themes---in Finding Jackie, a kidnapping and torture of a young boy is the heart---and yet presented in a perfect balance of drama and light comedy. A perfect balance.
For instance, I loved this bit: At the Monaco, they’d been offered the Ambassador Suite, but Sonny had insisted the purple furniture would prevent him from sleeping, so they ended up with the Monte Carlo suite. So adorable and yet somber, you just know Rod Serling is just sitting somewhere offstage, narrating.
Sylvre displayed her trademark knack for showing not telling her characters, and I was particularly touched by the humanness of one character, a drag hooker named Rita: Well, you know, Vasquez. I know I’m not like I used to be. I don’t draw the same clientele. You know what I mean?” Luki did know. Rita hadn’t been a street-corner “ho.” She’d drawn her clients from the richest, the most prestigious men in Chicago, both the flagrantly criminal and the supposedly legit. That was the reason she’d been useful to Luki. Small-time thieves and conmen weren’t the people Luki needed to know about when he was working for ATF. Rita hooked the big ones, and her trade in gossip was as lucrative as her trade in sex. Or possibly more. When Luki didn’t say anything, Rita deflated a little. She attempted a laugh but choked on it.
So subtle, just a teency touch of body language, and Rita's entire persona is sewn up in vivid color. A sad wishing that someone would tell her, no, you're still beautiful, you still got it going on, girl. But no one contradicts her and she deflates but carries on. Body language. A gift of Sylvre's.
You know I don't talk much about plots, and this is no exception except to say this particular story line was absolutely riveting. Big time. Sylvre knows her stuff. Weapons, computer technology, strategics, logistics, all the goodies that make for good action and adventure.
But...but...Ms. Sylvre also knows something ever bigger, even better. Humans. What one person has that makes another person tick. What one person has that dries another person ape shit. What one person has that makes another crazy with desire. Love, sensuality, deep-in-the-gut emotion, no holds barred. The good with the bad, the pretty with the ugly. Humans. The way we really are.
Sonny James and Luki Vasquez are two of my favorite fictional characters of all time. Something about them...just something about them. Beautiful, gentle but-can-be-a-force-to-be-reckoned-with Sonny James. So loyal, so enamored of his husband Luki. A perfect character, so well drawn I feel as though I could just pick up the phone and call him. So well drawn I find myself wildly attracted to him.
And then there's Luki....confirmed bad-ass who is growing a heart over the course of the series and who is softening up a little because of that heart.
Their dynamics---in and out of the bed---are fabulous. Oh, and speaking of the bed. One unforgettable scene---in a bath tub---ay-ay-ay! I even stopped reading to make a comment to the author. Oh, hell's bells. Can Sylvre write the intimate scenes. And they are not hump-it-baby-oh-yeah-baby fare. Her sex scenes are hot as Hades yet so damn classy. The lovemaking session by the water. On the rock. Beautiful, intense.
For you readers who are devoted Vasquez and James fans, you will not want to miss this installment. There are excellent flashbacks into Luki's past, when he was eighteen. There is a final confrontation with his childhood, when he faces the ghosts---thanks to the love and patience of Sonny---of the incident when his face was slashed. It's a wonderful insight into Luki, his growth, his triumph over his demons. And a beautiful tribute to his Sonny who has stood by him through all these fabulous books.
Finding Jackie. If I gave stars, I'd have to give this read its own constellation. Yes. It is that good.
Thanks, Ms. Sylvre, for another beautiful, satisfying read.