Drumsticks

Charlotte Carter, Author
Charlotte Carter, Author Mysterious Press $22.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-89296-679-0
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African-American sax artist Nanette Hayes, a tough New Yorker, returns for her third gig (following Rhode Island Red and Coq au Vin). Nan is as low as she can go--hitting the booze hard, losing contact with friends and drifting until the gift of a voodoo doll seems to change her luck. An unexpected check and a chance to perform regularly at an upscale jazz club rouse her to seek out the voodoo doll's creator, an older woman named Ida Williams, whom she invites on impulse to hear her play. Her good luck ends in opening-night gunfire that leaves Ida dead. The old woman's checkered past, a vendetta among rap artists and an elaborate scam combine to thrust Nan into a maelstrom of violence. In search of answers, Nan finds that she needs her friends--Aubrey, a beautiful exotic dancer, and Justin, a white, witty drag queen. She also needs the help of both her high school principal father, who left her mother to marry a much younger white woman, and gruff NYPD detective Leman Sweet, who proves to be an unexpected guardian angel. Underneath the street trappings and the jazzy, bold sexuality, Nan seems a nice middle-class gal seeking bohemia who instead finds adventure and romance. If Carter doesn't quite convince with this brash first-person narrative, she does manage to entertain. (Feb.)
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