PLAIN BROWN WRAPPER: An Alex Powell Novel

Karen Grigsby Bates, Author . Avon $13 (336p) ISBN 978-0-380-80890-8

This upbeat debut novel, despite a somewhat sluggish beginning, provides a fascinating look into the world of African-American journalism from the perspective of a most appealing heroine, L.A. newspaper columnist Alex Powell. Alex and her best friend, Signe "Magnolia Mouth" Tucker, are attending the annual National Association of Black Journalists conference at a swank hotel "on the critically Caucasian Westside," when Everett "Ev" Carson, a magazine publisher with a reputation for the ladies and for always being late, fails to show up to receive the Journalist of the Year award. Accompanied by Paul Butler, an old friend of Ev's and a syndicated New York Times columnist, Alex heads to Ev's room, where they find the tycoon undressed, lying in bed with a smile on his face and dead as can be. Recruited by an LAPD detective to conduct a behind-the-scenes investigation, Alex and Paul set out on a trail that leads them to D.C., Martha's Vineyard and Manhattan, where they uncover secrets of past sins, romances and a brewing upset in the publishing arena. They also realize that they too may be targets for murder. A contributing columnist to the Los Angeles Times and an NPR commentator, Bates combines a firsthand knowledge of the journalism field, an easygoing style, a cast of well-developed characters and just the right spark of humor in a fun, suspenseful novel that will leave readers eagerly looking forward to the next installment. (July 10)

Forecast:With a six-city tour and a well-connected author—Bates is also a correspondent for People magazine—this novel should get plenty of media attention.

Reviewed on: 06/25/2001
Release date: 07/01/2001
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Mass Market Paperbound - 352 pages - 978-0-380-80891-5
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