This review was originally published on The Rainbow Hub on September 28th, 2015. I have been given permission to reprint the review here. Enjoy!
The Red Files by Lee Winter is as electric as the scoop the two main characters are researching. Lauren King is an entertainment journalist in her late twenties or early thirties, looking to be taken seriously and trying to catch a break in the world of political journalism. Catherine Ayers is a forty-something fallen DC darling who has been relegated to entertainment reporting. The two women are at complete odds, but when Lauren notices a bit of suspicious activity at a business launch party, they team up to reveal a story greater than they ever could have imagined.
Now, I will say this from the get go: My background is in politics, and political journalism is fascinating to me. Part of the reason I love this book so much is that political fiction is very much my kind of genre. I am also an absolute sucker for stories about people who hate each other who soften and grow into friends or lovers over time. So those two things together make the perfect book combination for me. But there is so much more to this book.
Winter paints a tale that reads like a well-scripted season on a crime-based TV show. The twists and turns of investigation and the growth between Lauren and Ayers over the course of the novel are well paced and keep the reader guessing. The voices of the characters were distinct, and the characterization of the ever-growing cast felt organic and well-structured. I found myself cheering on the main couple, while being deeply entrenched in the mystery and inner workings of the story.
I will, however, say this as my only gripe with the novel. The language surrounding sex work really wasn’t appropriate. More and more, sex work is being discussed by those in that line of work and outside through a feminist lens, and while I am not incredibly well versed in the subject, I do know that some of the language used in this book regarding sex workers are slurs. I wish that this was taken into consideration within the editing process, because this is a really good book that could have been free and clear of anything problematic had this been accounted for.
Overall, this book is really solid. Ayers and Lauren’s May/December relationship was a delightful introduction to something I had never read before. They are a dynamic and interesting pairing, and it was so exciting to experience this story through their eyes. The story is absorbing and enriching, and leaves the reader satisfied, yet wanting more. I would definitely recommend this novel to those interested in these crossed genres, or anyone looking to find a romance woven into a great investigative novel.