St. Martin's, Nov 2003, 24.95, 320 pp.
Florida Congressman Robert Shapply used to champion the rights of rappers. Now along with his wife he plans to push a ban on the violence, drugs, rape and other evils that permeate the lyrics of many rap tunes. The couple plan to host hearings on violence and porn that the entertainment world nonchalantly offers our children. However, before he can begin his crusade as only a convert could, someone kills Robert just outside his DC townhouse.
The police arrest Robert's stepson Nick Brand. His childhood best friend music reporter Mick Sever, who is still angry with his buddy over an incident from a few years ago, offers to investigate when the accused persuades him that he innocent. As the inquiries take him through the nightmarish violence of rap music, the weird Shapply extended family, and ultimately Barbados, thugs try to stop Mick and a killer stalks him.
The who-done-it is a solid puzzler that is filled with numerous viable suspects with motives. The hero at times seems too egotistical as to his greatness, but what do you expect from a reviewer as it is easier to criticize than create. Still fans will appreciate his dogged determination to uncover the truth even if it is hard to accept a music critic as an amateur sleuth. The support cast consists of escapees from weird city, but in some strange manner enhance the story line. Fans of a different rap will enjoy BARBADOS HEAT, a solid detective tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner