cover image Gutter


K'wan, . . St. Martin's Griffin, $14.95 (406pp) ISBN 978-0-312-36009-2

In the sequel to Gangsta , K'wan offers a gritty and explosive cautionary tale. Kenyatta Soladine, aka Gutter, is an Algerian immigrant and head of the Harlem Crips, recently recovered from a gunshot-induced coma to learn that his best friend has been murdered by the rival Bloods. Overcome with guilt and rage, Gutter and his gang seek revenge by killing not just those responsible, but every member of the Bloods in town, despite the protests of Gutter's wife, Sharell, his business associates and his advisers. In response, the Bloods import some serious help from Los Angeles: Major Blood, a deranged and murderous sociopath with an age-old vendetta against the Soladine family. Plenty of mayhem follows, taking in gangsters, their families and innocent bystanders on both coasts. Hard-to-ignore structural problems and predictable, clichéd plot developments will frustrate, and tacked-on prologue and epilogue will confuse. K'wan does have his eyes and ears to the street, believably detailing his characters' dialogue and reactions, but goes little further. (Oct.)