Black Heat

Norman Kelley, Author
Norman Kelley, Author Cool Grove Publishing $12.95 (270p) ISBN 978-1-887276-03-0
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Library Binding - 978-1-887276-02-3
Hardcover - 304 pages - 978-0-06-018542-8
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4498-7213-7
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African American cultural politics drive this overly dense mystery set in New York City. Narrator Nina Halligan is a former assistant DA who now works as a PI. She agrees to help former sex symbol and actress Veronica Martin, who's recently been released from a mental institution, find her missing daughter, Malika. Martin's husband, Malik, assassinated some 25 years earlier, was a popular black leader. Not surprisingly, then, a simple missing-person case soon turns into a deadly political drama as the past is unearthed. To complicate matters, close friend and associate Anna Gong, a Chinese-American lawyer with ambitions to run for city council, comes out by seducing Nina. And Nina herself is struggling with memories of her murdered family, transferring her rage for revenge to her current case. Corruption and rivalry among revered black leaders make life dangerous for Nina and her new beau, journalist Dexter Pierson, as they race against the clock to rescue Malika and expose the hypocrisy. Kelly presses a heavy thumb on hot-button issues of black politics: Afrocentrism; the appeal of televangelism; what it means to be authentically black; FBI dirty tricks against civil rights leaders. All of this comes so thick and fast that the story line is buried, as it seems as though Kelly tried to cram every issue he ever thought about into his first novel. (Aug.)
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