The age of AIDS has bred some strange hybrids, and "Peeping Thomas," the second Robert Reeves mystery to feature Boston professor-sleuth Thomas Carlyle Theron, is one of them.
In his first appearance, in "Doubting Thomas," Theron showed a taste for high jinks and low life in the city's downtown Combat Zone. Now that sex has become a "blood sport" that scared suburban folks prefer to engage in vicariously, via their VCRs, that old hotbed of sin is cooling down.
Nonetheless, a feminist group that includes Theron's ex-wife is picketing one of the district's last X-rated theaters, called, ironically, the First Amendment. Invited, because of his raffish reputation, to escort the protesters as they hunt for an expose allegedly hidden in videos made by a former honor student turned porn queen, Theron witnesses a bomb blast that kills the group's leader.
"Don't think sex, think money," a business-school colleague advises him. And, indeed, Theron's search for the murderer leads him through publishing houses, faculty meetings, street scams, strip joints and drug-fueled film sessions (all wittily rendered by Reeves, who writes good dialogue) into mortal danger at the hands of the profiteers behind the skin trade.