cover image LOOKING FOR CHET BAKER: An Evan Horne Mystery


Bill Moody, . . Walker, $23.95 (253pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-3368-9

"I'm a pushover for minor keys, minor chords, minor blues. Always have been," says jazz pianist and amateur detective Evan Horne. "I was drawn to those players and composers for whom minor keys and blues-drenched creations were a way of life." A blues-drenched creation aptly sums up Moody's sad and mellow Evan Horne mystery, his fifth (after 1999's Bird Lives!), in which his suffering hero, still recovering from the aftereffects of the violence of earlier cases, decides to get away and takes some gigs in Europe. In London, Horne meets an old friend, Ace Buffington. An English professor who needs to publish one more book to achieve tenure, Ace wants Horne to help him research real-life jazz great Chet Baker. In 1988, Baker fell (or was pushed) from his hotel window in Amsterdam, i.e., he died "under mysterious circumstances." Horne has no interest in more detective work, but when he gets to Amsterdam, he discovers that Ace has disappeared. Since the police express little interest in finding the missing professor, Horne is obliged to go looking for his buddy himself. Ace's trail parallels that of Chet Baker's last days, so Horne has to learn a lot more about Baker, his legendary talent, his tragic addiction to drugs. Moody does a wonderful job of re-creating the man and his times. For anyone interested in jazz, this is a must. For anyone just interested in a good mystery, this is just what the coroner ordered. Agent, Philip G. Spitzer.(Mar. 13)

Forecast:As a jazz drummer and respected critic in the music world (Howard Mandel, president of the Jazz Journalists Association, and Dick Conte, of San Francisco's KCSM/KKSF, supply blurbs), the author is well positioned to push this latest jazz mystery to the obvious crossover audience.