Jamaica Blue Hardcover – Oct 10 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Set in Jamaica and Florida and steeped in the lore of rock and roll, pot, Rastafarianism and reggae rap, Bruns's first novel, alas, provides only moderate mystery entertainment. Mick Sever, a renowned rock critic and author of a bestselling book about a rock star's murder, agrees to do a piece on a new reggae group headed by the charismatic Derrick Layman (hailed as "the second coming of Bob Marley"), whose misogynistic lyrics advocate violence against women. Two young women have already been murdered after Derrick and the Laments concerts. When a third victim is stabbed to death, the alleged killer, Roland Jamison, one of Layman's security guards, is found standing over the body with a bloody knife. The police, understandably, arrest Jamison, but Sever, like Inspector Clouseau under similar obvious circumstances in A Shot in the Dark, doubts the man's guilt based on his bewildered expression. Bruns makes much of this and the authorities' unwillingness to accept it as evidence. There are few suspects but their complex relationships generate most of the narrative interest. There are two attempts to drive Sever off the road, a bashing or two and a fistfight, but otherwise little action and no suspense. Sever may not be a terribly compelling sleuth, but his extensive knowledge of the rock world helps redeem the story, as does a clever and logical solution to the crimes.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
When Mick Sever, an influential music critic and best-selling writer, first hears a hot, new Jamaican band called Derrick and the Laments, he's hooked despite the front man's violent political and racial rants. More than that, though, he's intrigued by the fact that three murders of young women have followed Derrick's recent concerts. The last killing occurred on a yacht in Miami during a post-concert party. Mick senses another best seller and begins investigating. Well-paced prose, unnerving, high-speed action, and lively subject matter merit this attention, especially from readers interested in music. A solid debut.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Unfortunately, at a party on a boat, a young woman is not only found stabbed to death but one of the band's security guards is found holding the knife. When the guard is arrested, Sever feels the wrong man was arrested. He tries to prove that he is correct.
Amateur PI books can be a bit problematic. To be successful, they must be believable. Just as important, the characters have to be engaging enough to allow the reader to accept the necessary suspension of reality and overlook the fact that, say, a rock promoter as a PI is highly unlikely. Don Bruns succeeds in his first effort. Not only is Mick Sever a believable character, but, being a rock promoter allows him to reveal many interesting facets of the recording industry. Of course, Don Bruns, the author, can supply us with much of the information given that he is a songwriter, musician and ad executive. Mr. Bruns has done his homework well in creating this very, very good mystery by working well within the formulaic genre. He breaks no new ground. The novel is paced well and is kept to a reasonable length. Problems include weaknesses in the more minor characterizations. I never truly got a good feel for many of the suspects. However, Don Bruns deserves a lot of credit for hitting a homer his first time at bat.
With his ex-wife Ginny along for support he draws ever closer to the truth, while deftly negotiating the seamy underbelly of the music industry. Bruns does this sort of thing far better than Kinky Friedman, Greg Kihn or others who have gone before. Mixing tidbits about real rock legends with fictional ones gives this first novel a sense of realism and urgency that keeps pages turning. The relationship between Sever and ex-wife is a highlight of the book-how many slueths work with an ex?
If you are into music at all, or if you just like a good mystery, this book will scratch your itch. Hopefully there is a sequel around the bend as Mick Sever deserves a long run.
Author Don Bruns writes convincingly about the music business and the power, money, drugs, and sex that surround it. His descriptions of the charismatic band leader Derrick ring true. JAMAICA BLUE is a well written first novel for Bruns. I would have liked to see more attention to potential red herrings, however. Although Sever identified several potential suspects early on, he never seemed to get around to investigating them--surely a top journalist would have tracked down these loose ends.
JAMAICA BLUE isn't a perfect novel but it marks a promising first mystery. I'll be looking for more novels by Don Bruns.
Sever was on the scene when the police found Jamison hovering over the corpse, but he noticed the confused face of the accused. The police reject Mick's plea that Jamsion is an innocent dupe so he begins his own inquiries fueled by his success as a true crime writer of one book involving a murdered rock star. The police and the music industry refuse to help Sever and even try to physically remove him from derailing the rise of a potential reggae superstar, but the author-journalist keeps trying to uncover the truth.
The murder mystery takes a back seat to the insightful look at the music industry especially the publicity behind luminaries, famous people, and future stars. The investigation has some action as assailants try to stop Sever, but feels more like a cozy even with sex and drugs in the background. Readers who enjoy a comprehensive look at the world of rock from the perspective of an insider rolled into a who-done-it will enjoy Don Bruns debut tale.
Most recent customer reviews
Derrick Lyman, the leader of a Jamaican Reggae and Hip-hop group, Derrick Lyman and The Laments, is hailed as the new Bob Marley. Read morePublished on Nov. 22 2002 by Bruce L.
Kind of hokey. Really took a leap of faith to follow the story line. How many murders would it take to stop an actual concert and would a concert really be that important to ignore... Read morePublished on Nov. 10 2002 by Ken Dandrea