Review of ‘You can’t die but once’ by Penny Mickelbury
First of all, it is not easy to write a review when it comes to such a heavy topic. I love a good lesbian crime story but when it comes to child trafficking and prostitution, it’s hard to stay tuned and not put the book down. Second, I didn’t know it was a series at first and I haven’t read any of the previous books. Although it is a self-contained story and you can read it well without having read the previous ones, there are some references to the earlier cases.
As I mentioned before, this book has an extremely heavy subject, the prostitution of children. The one lead in the story is from the point of view of Police Lieutenant Gianna Maglione and her team, from the newly formed squad called Special Intelligence Mobile and Tactical Unit, which has set out to take down this child trafficking ring.
The other lead is from the point of view of Mimi Patterson, an investigative journalist and Gianna’s girlfriend, who, after quitting a few months ago, returns to her old job and, together with her colleagues, also comes across child trafficking via another story.
Mimi and Gianna are two interesting personalities who work in two very important professions, which sometimes overlap when they work on virtually the same case. This could apparently be a problem at the beginning when they met, especially for Gianna who didn’t trust the press. But they learned to trust each other and to take Mimi’s tips and advice seriously. There are no sex scenes in this book and in my opinion, it is correct like this, you could not enjoy it with this heavy theme.
Despite the difficult subject matter, I liked how Gianna’s team worked, and with the help of various new technology such as drones, the full extent of the terrible actions of the persecuted men and women is brought to light. It was also good that the author did not just create heroes and heroines, but hard-working police officers, and journalists too, who also make mistakes and show feelings about the brutal events. The author created two gripping storylines that eventually led to each other. What I liked very much is this two-pronged structure, it is exciting and interesting. And I appreciated very much the diverse characters in both teams of police and the newspaper.
What was a small disadvantage is that many protagonists are mentioned by name and it was not easy to keep track of the characters. And it was also confusing at times to follow the actions and thoughts, as the POV changes often, mainly from Gianna to Mimi, but sometimes to others too.
The story was heavy on my heart, and a few times I had tears in my eyes, sometimes of pain because of what these people did to these girls, and sometimes because of my rage towards these men and women. But what was the worst is knowing that this is actually happening in our world. And that breaks my heart.
I guess that some of you readers think that it is not necessary to write such terrible stories, we read enough about it in the newspapers, but on the other hand, it might be good to write a fictional story about it to shake us up a bit. In these times where so much happens anonymously and many people only care about themselves, we should learn to pay attention to our surroundings and neighbors again, to help each other and to be aware of conspicuous things that happen, and to react to them.
My rating 4 stars
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review