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Miami Purity
Vicki Hendricks

Miami Purity
Vicky Hendricks
Secker & Warburg
London 1996

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Miami Purity is a book which will appeal to the seedier side of human nature. From the first glimpse of the dust jacket of this hot little number it’s lust at first sight – despite your better judgement. Dressed in a provocative, hot pink jacket with an embossed zipper running down the front suggestively open to the navel, the book flaunts itself at the eager reader with promises of "Hot Sex, White Trash, Black Humour, Cold-Blooded Murder". What more could a boy or girl ask for? Moving swiftly past the cheap thrill of the dressing, it’s straight down to business without so much as a polite introduction or a few pages of foreplay to get you in the mood. This is not a book that skillfully and subtly seduces the reader into willing submission. It’s a book that grabs you firmly by the crotch and dares you to blink.

The spectacularly sleazy story centres around Sherri Parlay who has hustled through the last few years of her chequered career stripping in the lowlife bars of downtown Miami. But at 36, and with gravity no longer so kind to her assets as it once was, she decides it’s time to hang up her G-String and tassels and make a clean break from the booze, the drugs and the numerous men of her past. Her fresh start is symbolically found in the shape of a job at Miami Purity, a dry cleaners in a good neighbourhood run by a mother and son team. Sherri’s quest for a white picket fence life takes another turn in the right direction when she takes up with owner’s son Payne, a seemingly straightlaced, regular sort of guy. But Payne and his mother have anything but a normal mother and son relationship and Sherri soon discovers that working in a dry cleaners can be a dirty business. As Payne reveals a surprising side to his nature, events take on a momentum of their own and Sherri’s life spirals murderously out of control.

Miami Purity is driven by its characters’ lustful perversities and unquenchable sexual desires. If this book had been written by a man, it could well be accused of playing on male fantasies but Vicki Hendricks’ tongue-in-cheek, almost deadpan delivery just about manages to steer the book away from mere voyeuristic titillation. Curiously for a book full of red-blooded carnal action and athletic bed-hopping, Miami Purity is about as a erotic as a cheap peepshow, only it’s quite a bit more funny and a deal more sordid. The gratification is predictably immediate, it’s all over very quickly and rather messily, and once the cheap thrill has gone you can’t help but feel slightly sullied by the whole sordid affair. And a little guilty for having enjoyed it so much.

Reviewed by Jon Mitchell


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