Today’s review is a book of “true fiction”. We’re taking a look at the novel, Stilettos and Steel by Jeri Estes. It’s based on her own life story as a teenage runaway turned San Francisco madame but it is embellished a bit to make it fiction. We’re no strangers to “true fiction here”!
The story follows Jesse, who at 16 runs away from her mundane teenage existence in suburban L.A. She takes up residence in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, then the forerunner to the gay Castro district with lots of prostitution and other crime thrown into the mix. The Tenderloin then in the story and then in real life featured cops on the take. In this story, the prostitution ring Jesse gets involved in at first is run by a police detective.
Jesse is a gender bending queer. By virtue of “career’ position in the beginning of the story, she’s a beautiful and desired prostitute. In her private life, she’s a lesbian who prefers to dress in mens clothes and date women.
This story evolves quickly. Jesse turns from being a prostitute to being a pimp and quite a successful one, much to the dismay of the men she and her “girls” are trumping. Even though it moves fast, you lose nothing. You’ll feel every nuance here.
Other reviewers have said “these characters are very well developed”, “Jeri’s voice is so original”, “this is such a unique story” and so forth. While all of that is very true, those reviewers are missing the true picture. Quite frankly, disclaimer at the front of the book aside, this would appear to be pretty much true to life as so much other fiction based on a true story is. These characters are well developed because they are/were real people. Jeri writes from what she knows and she does it well.