The Jade Dragon is a novel by fellow writer and blogger Fia Black. I decided to read and review it after seeing her promote the work on her blog. It is available through Amazon (as linked in the title above) or through Smashwords. Spoilers will be marked.
This story is the first in the Submissive Beth Mystery Series and the initial offering follows our so named protagonist who is a professional submissive weary of keeping her occupation hidden from her friends. She decides to to become a private investigator, and her first job is quickly forthcoming when Mistress Jade, the madam of the club she works for, approaches her about investigating a stalker. Unfortunately, before Beth can even scratch the surface, Jade is found beaten to death with her place in shambles. It becomes abundantly clear that the police are going to do nothing due to the nature of Jade’s work, so the new made PI decides to open up her own investigation. With the help of a sort of rogue Detective Reiner, Beth sets out to solve Jade’s murder and discover how deep the rabbit hole goes.
I will say I have never read a story about a professional submissive turned PI, and I was very interested by that as I love incongruence and eclecticism in characters (I have ideas about a lounge singing assassin myself), plus it made perfect sense that Beth would want to use her skills to help a woman who was not only a murdered colleague, but also a friend. Black utilized this paradigm as a decided statement about how people (especially women) who do sex work are often treated by authorities i.e. as unimportant, expendable, and deserving of any poor treatment or fate that falls. It’s a very victim blaming mindset, and though it wasn’t explicitly stated, it was decidedly implied.
Some of the most fascinating parts of the story were when Beth was in the midst of her submission sessions. Not a one was the same and all were utterly compelling without being overly lewd. I am not remotely an expert in the world of BDSM, but I do know about the concept of safe words, and I liked that the author portrayed the lifestyle in a far better way than some more unfairly (in my opinion) popular novels that shall not be linked to. I also enjoyed the fact that Beth, as so stated, was not a size 2, but this diminished neither her confidence nor sexuality. She enjoyed the work she did in giving pleasure to people even as she sought to find employment that she could share with her friends. I wish there had been more interaction with Beth and her friends to establish their relationship more. While she and Reiner were developed characters, I felt that some of the side ones were a bit underwhelming, and I found myself struggling to remember who they were later on when their names were mentioned.
The dynamic between Beth and Reiner was electric from the start. While it was obvious what was going to happen with them in the end, the journey there was still enjoyable. My favorite parts of the book were when Beth and the detective were together. The mystery itself was intense, and Black did an excellent job “dropping breadcrumbs” as I call it. Enough to keep you interested, but not enough to give it all away at once.
I can’t give an honest review of The Jade Dragon without some critiques. There were some definite editing issues with the novel mostly in terms of the start of the text in quotes not being capitalized, and some of the dialogue tags were a little off in addition to some missed grammatical errors. I was able to figure out who was speaking fairly easily though so this would just be something that could be fixed in the next draft/release.
The ending of the mystery was a bit anticlimactic, and I actually missed it at first read. While there were some definite thrilling parts, the close out to what was really going up came up a bit abruptly and was resolved with Beth and Reiner almost being in absentia. I also knew at the very end that *spoiler* Reiner was going to be the one to win the bid to deflower Beth, *end spoiler* but I did love how the novel ended. With a book of such explicit descriptions of sub and dom culture, the ending was pleasantly incongruent and left some things to the imagination and/or teased for the next installment.
I believe The Jade Dragon is Fia Black’s first published novel, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in swift read mystery. The only reason it long as it did is because of my ridiculous schedule. I intend to pick up the next one when it’s published, and I give this one three and a half stars. Since Amazon doesn’t have a half star option, and I believe in rounding up, my rating will be four stars there.
If you’ve read The Jade Dragon, let me know what you think in the comments and let Ms. Black know as well! Her site is linked above along with Amazon, and the book is located here on Goodreads.