Babytrick (Detroit Im Dyin’ Trilogy #3), by T. V. LoCicero

Eight stars

First and foremost, thank you to T. V. LoCicero for providing me with a copy of this book, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Having thoroughly enjoyed the first two novels in the trilogy, it was a no-brainer to read the final instalment, full of some of the darkest writing that LoCicero has offered to date. Camie may only be fourteen, but she has lived the hard life. After being abused by her step-father, she fled to the rough streets of Detroit and was eventually sent to work in a vice den. A babytrick, the name given to underage prostitutes, Camie has come to learn that she wants out from under the thumb of a greedy set of thugs, free to earn money the only way she knows how. That being said, once they have you, those who control the sleazy underbelly of the city rarely want to let you go. Meanwhile, Gabriella ‘Ella’ Peek has made quite the name for herself. Rising through the ranks of the Detroit Police Department, Peek left after her list of enemies on the force exceeded those on the street. She earned a law degree and has returned to work for the city on a lucrative project to rejuvenate the City Airport. However, with an ailing father in the hospital, Peek takes some time to visit an old boyfriend, whom she finds dead in his pool. When the police arrive, she is the number one suspect, with ample motive to have killed Bruce Miller. What ties these two women together, Ella and Camie? One Mark Cremini, journalist for Rolling Stone, who has travelled from LA to discover the pulse of Detroit. He wants to write all about Peek and her amazing life story, as well as develop a piece on the youth working the inner city streets. Cremini is able to forge a strong relationship with both Peek and Camie, bringing them together as they are hunted by a corrupt gang of cops and thugs. The more Cremini learns, the deeper he finds himself in both their plights. With a murder charge looming for Peek and Camie’s life on the line as she hides, all three must work together to develop a team mentality before it’s too late. Surely the darkest and most impactful of the three novels, LoCicero entertains and educates the reader in equal measure. Perfect for those who are looking for a different type of crime novel that pushes all the grit to the surface.

All three of these novels have been a stunning look into early 1990s Detroit, presenting some of the struggles that seem to have pervaded the inner-city. LoCicero tackles prostitution, particularly underage girls, presenting some loose theories about how some girls might flock to the profession. With each novel, the central characters change, but the quality of their development remains at the highest caliber. LoCicero presents Camie Walsh as a precocious girl who is living the life she has apparently been dealt to her, but is also well-grounded in the life that she dream of living. Ella Peek has seen much in her life and has struggled in a city where race remains a ceiling when it comes to advancement. Mark Cremini is the new guy in town, somewhat wet behind the ears to Detroit living, but also coming with the preconceived notions of what awaits him. Peppering a wonderful cast and a minor role for Channel 5 news anchor Frank DeFauw, LoCicero locks down a cast of characters who will dazzle the narrative in their own ways. The story is, as mentioned before, the darkest of all three and also the most dense. It could be the subject matter, but there is also a sense that the reader really must become invested to take a significant amount away. This is not a bad thing in the least. The chapters are still short and to the point, allowing the reader to speed through the novel while still picking up much of interest. Using fairly ‘raw’ language and idioms, LoCicero gets his point across that these streets are not Candyland or some dreamy suburb community. While some may bemoan the cursing, I would point to the realism factor on offer by doing this, which LoCicero has surely done for a reason. The story comes to life with these amazing gems and the entire series comes highly recommended, for what it’s worth!

Kudos, Mr. LoCicero for a fabulous novel and stellar series. I appreciate having these novels come onto my radar at such a poignant time and I was pleased to devour and review them, in hopes that others will discover their quality.