Friday, March 16, 2012

ARC Book Review: Coming Out Can Be Murder by Renee James

Coming Out Can Be Murder

Author: Renee James
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Windy City Publishers (June 1, 2012)
Author's Blog

Note: I received a review copy of this book free from the author, Renee James. The review posted below is based on my personal thoughts while reading the book.

Ratings: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

My thoughts:

I do not remember EVER reading any GLBT (Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transsexual) book. When I was asked to read and review this book, I instantly liked the synopsis, it looked interesting but I was afraid that there may be some scenes in the book that I may not like. True enough, there are scenes in the book which I had to skip because I just don't feel comfortable reading them but I still continued reading. Why? because honestly, the plot is great. The stories written in the book have been so informative - I now know the difference between "transgender" and "transsexual", I really thought they have the same meaning. 

Oh I loved Bobbi! She's the main character in the story and I learned a lot from her. It was interesting to read Bob Logan's transformation into a cute and very lovable Bobbi Logan. Bobbi was once a married man, and I feel for Bobbi's wife. She must have felt horrible hearing her husband is leaving her because he wants to be a girl like her. What a heartbreak!

I also liked Cecelia, Bobbi's mentor, Marilee, her psychiatrist, especially Thomas. I was so drawn in their world and deeply affected by the stories written here. I may not fully understand how they feel but at least I had the chance to see or experience their world.

Overall, this was not an easy book to read for me due to some "gay scenes" but I HIGHLY recommend this book for those readers looking for a unique experience, certainly worth reading!
About the book:

Coming Out Can Be Murder is narrated by Bobbi Logan, a Chicago hairdresser who begins investigating the murder of a trans woman friend when neither the media nor the police seem to take notice of her brutal death.
Fighting the demons of her own gender transition, Bobbi navigates Chicago’s mysterious transgender underground to find the killer, only to become his next target.

Coming Out Can Be Murder combines a fast-moving plot with a unique character study, putting the reader in the mind and body of a sensitive, articulate transsexual woman as she begins living full time in her true gender. And Bobbi takes the reader on an extraordinary journey through Chicago’s vibrant transgender community and the city’s famous Boystown neighborhood, from its high-brow cafes to its pulsating dance clubs.

James, an active member of the Chicago transgender community, sketches a variety of characters in Coming Out, from a seductive transgender sex worker to a politically connected power broker whose smooth demeanor hides the vicious personality of a sexual predator.

Among the most memorable characters is Bobbi’s mentor, Cecelia, a brash, over-sized, larger-than-life trans woman who refuses to be intimidated by the disapproval of others.

“Cecelia is the trans woman people remember seeing in a restaurant or store,” says James. “She’s too tall and doesn’t look feminine, but she dresses well and has great composure. You don’t know anything about her because you don’t know how to start a conversation. In this book, you hear her talk and you get to know her.”

The other character most talked about by early reviewers is Betsy, Bobbi’s ex-wife. While many marriages involving transgender people end in hostility and acrimony, Betsy and Bobbi never quit loving each other after their divorce. Their love just takes a different form.

Bleue Benton, Manager of the Oak Park (IL) Public Library’s nationally acclaimed transgender literature collection, hails Coming Out Can Be Murder as “an important contribution to the field…a great story with beautiful self reflection.”

Adds Ms. Benton, “Renee James has written a groundbreaking mystery. Her smart, perceptive, and engaging heroine leads us through gender identity issues as she seeks understanding, acceptance, and justice. This page-turner is important and needs to be read.”

Coming Out Can Be Murder goes on sale June 1 in paper, Kindle and eBook formats. The book is available in book stores, through on-line services like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and wherever books are sold.

About the author:

Renee James is the pen name of a Chicago-area writer who lives in two genders.
In her male identity, James has been a full time writer for several years, following a long career as a magazine editor and owner. James has won dozens of awards for journalistic excellence and authored a biography.

James is also a husband, father and grandfather. She is a war veteran, licensed hairdresser, and wilderness adventurer. She has struggled with gender identity issues for decades.

Ms. James has been active in the Chicago transgender community for many years. She edited the Chicago Gender Society newsletter for five years, and participates in many of the groups and activities that make the Chicago transgender community one of the most vibrant in the world.

Coming Out Can Be Murder is the by-product of a fictional journal Ms. James wrote on business trips during her magazine editing years. The journal was a reflection on what her life might have been like if she had chosen to become a transsexual woman rather than marry and raise a family as a bi-gendered male.

“After a while, I realized that the fictional character I created was someone much different than me. She was very interesting and much different than any character I had encountered in commercial fiction,” said Ms. James. “She was flawed and frightened, but she had a powerful inner resolve and good human qualities. These things made her a unique heroine, and she deserved her own story.”

Ms. James believes the enduring quality of Coming Out Can Be Murder is its humanity. “This is a story about the difference between appearance and reality, and it’s about making hard choices and living with them,” said James.

For more information about Renee James, go to


Rori at Transformations said...

Dear Renee,
You are exceptional...Bravo!
Rori & the Transformations Girls

AO said...

hi Jenia! thanks for sharing your thoughts on the book. glad that you not only managed to finish it but loved it as well. thanks for your email too! c",)

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