If you’re going to start a career in writing fiction, why not begin by scribing the ongoing adventures of one of the most famous characters in literature? Back in 1996, Texan Raymond Benson’s first novel, Zero Minus Ten, was the first of his nine officially sanctioned 007 continuation novels. When his James Bond work ended in 2002, he went on to write for Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell series and began his original “Rock and Roll Thrillers.”
Then, in 2011 Benson debuted a new character, a strong-willed and driven masked vigilante called The Black Stiletto . The novel opened in the present day when Martin Talbot found some surprising documents about his mother. The hidden diaries revealed that from 1959 to 1963, his mother, Judy Talbot, had been the legendary Black Stiletto. He discovered his mother had been raised in Texas, left her home after being raped by a brutal stepfather, and learned martial arts and boxing techniques in New York City. Endowed with heightened senses of hearing and awareness of danger, Judy Talbot adopted the Black Stiletto guise to get revenge for the death of her gangster lover before using her skills as an avenging angel against street criminals and Communist spies.
She's now in a nursing home plagued with Alzheimer’s. Fifty years later, one of the thugs she put away is released, knows her identity, and tracks Judy Talbot to the nursing home where she remembers nothing — but has the instincts to save herself before her son’s eyes.
The debut novel had been told with alternating storylines bouncing back and forth between Martin Talbot’s investigations into his mother’s past and Judy Talbot’s memories from 1959. The sequel, Black and White, follows much the same formula with a few additional voices spliced in, notably the dictaphone recordings of FBI agent John Richardson. There are more descriptions of crime-fighting and personal matters from Judy Talbot’s diaries. These include discussions of her growing relationship with Richardson who unearths her identity, beds her, and nearly costs Talbot her life. She learns more than she wanted to know about him when she hears the Dictaphone recordings he had been making about her for his boss who assigned Richardson to be the one to arrest the vigilante.