cover image Still Hood

Still Hood

K'wan, . . St Martin's/Griffin, $14.95 (340pp) ISBN 978-0-312-36010-8

K'wan (Hoodlum ; Hood Rat ) delivers a convoluted, overplotted and ultimately disappointing cautionary tale. Early on, the reader is introduced to Black Ice, the slick pimp; Don B., the rap entrepreneur and head of the Big Dawgz crew; True, Don B.'s hottest new rapper and protégé; Jah, the increasingly reluctant bodyguard; Jah's makeup artist girlfriend Yoshi; and Dena Jones, a local girl who falls into the wrong crowd. As True and the Big Dawgz crew prepare for a video shoot in Harlem, no one's aware that there's someone out to kill True. The video shoot sets up the rest of the novel's tragic events, including murders (there are a lot), a gang rape and manifold permutations of the mayhem caused by greed and deception. The novel's long on grit and violence, but readers will be put off by the scattershot structure, an unmanageably large cast and a consistently half-baked feel. (Nov.)