Books by Blair S. Walker

Released: June 1, 2001

"While not as Baltimospheric as Laura Lippman, Walker's at his best when wandering the mean streets with Billups, or riffing on race, or just talking trash, with the mystery a real but secondary interest."
Homicide detective Scott Donatelli understands that it's Baltimore Herald reporter Darryl Billups's job to investigate crimes. That's why he lets Billups (Hidden in Plain View, 1999, etc.) onto the crime scene at Safe & Sound Storage on Reisterstown Road, where a 16-year-old shooter just took out two customers who discovered a long-dead corpse in Unit 25, only to be taken out himself by Thelma Holmes, Donatelli's partner. So why is someone so determined to block the investigation—stealing the corpse from the medical examiner's office, slashing Billups's tires, and setting fire to his house? It could be that someone wants to protect the identity of the unknown woman who died 18 years ago. Or that someone wants to protect the identity of the person who stashed her body in Unit 25—someone who may be rich, powerful, and respected. Or it could be that someone's out to get Billups, who has a reputation for poking his nose in where it's not welcome. Whatever the reason, he's in big trouble, and he'll have to rely on a strange assortment of allies, including his yuppie sister Camille, hip-hop sports writer John "Mad Dawg" Murdoch, and Detective Holmes—whose relationship with Billups may be more than just professional—to pull his ass out of the fire. Read full book review >
Released: April 6, 1999

Baltimore Herald assistant editor Darryl Billups isn't much to look at, but he must have something that turns heads. His girlfriend Yolanda's wild-thing twin LaToya wants to bed down with him even while Yolanda's asleep in the next room. And after his article on the Confederate flag killer—a Jerry Springer—inspired lunatic who's been leaving young black professionals dead in their bathtubs with Confederate flag decals stuck on their heads but not a mark of violence to indicate how they died—he catches the killer's eye too. Things heat up rapidly after the killer, vacationing in Atlanta till the heat dies down, gets carried away and on the spur of the moment offs local psychiatrist Melvin Hamilton—and after Darryl, catching a hot tip and what must be the fastest plane on the planet, arrives in Atlanta before the police have removed Dr. Hamilton's corpse from his sunken tub, only to find himself hotly pursued by the killer. Walker, paring away the endless subplots that weighed down Darryl's debut (Up Jumped the Devil, 1997), keeps the pot boiling smartly, so that even though Darryl has time to appear in some unaccustomed roles—as a solitary investigator bereft of his cop buddy Det. Philip Gardner, as a suspect in a sexual harassment complaint, as a serial killer's latest target—tension mounts steadily till the inevitable payoff. Lightweight, everywhere unbelievable, but still diverting. Read full book review >
UP JUMPED THE DEVIL by Blair S. Walker
Released: Oct. 1, 1997

Mark Dillard has had it with affirmative action and the decline of old-fashioned American values. Together with his dim cohorts—a disgruntled trash collector, a handyman who's good with tools, and a hot-headed kid—he's ready to stick it to Baltimore's African-American community. First, this cadre of neo- Nazi wannabes plans to execute drugstore king/NAACP donor Sheldon Blumberg. Then they'll plant a pipe bomb in the sanitation department, and follow it up with a few trash-can specials, just to keep everybody guessing, before moving on to the main course: blowing up the NAACP headquarters. But somebody who knows Dillard's plans has been phoning black police reporter Darryl Billups at the Baltimore Herald with a series of anonymous tips. Will Darryl—who's already got his dance card full with a mugging (his own), a hot new love interest, and the smilingly unscrupulous colleagues who'd stop at nothing to steal his best stories—dismiss the androgynous tipster as a crank, or use the info to stop the killing before the NAACP building is toast? What ought to be a foolproof nail-biter is sabotaged with so many subplots and scores to settle—the characters have as many unrelated stories to tell as the Herald's Metro section—that Dillard's crew of crazies is shrunk down to just one more nuisance in Darryl's life. But first-novelist Walker certainly has a big enough canvas for the promised series. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 18, 1994

A serviceable biography of the black attorney/businessman whose accomplishments set a challenging standard for tycoons of any ethnic background. Before he died of brain cancer at age 50 early in 1993, Lewis had partially completed a memoir of his remarkable life and career. Drawing on these jottings, as well as on extensive interviews with his subject's close-knit family, friends, and associates, USA Today correspondent Walker offers a warts-and-all portrait of an irresistible force. From his East Baltimore boyhood on, the ultra- industrious Lewis planned, even schemed, to make himself a world- class success. Barely an average student at Virginia State, he finessed his way into Harvard Law School without even taking the entrance exam. After a two-year stint with the top-drawer Manhattan firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, he struck out on his own. Serving a lengthy apprenticeship as a specialist in minority- enterprise small-business-investment corporations, Lewis learned enough to become a player in the great takeover game that preoccupied Wall Street during the 1980s. After a couple of false starts, he masterminded a leveraged buyout of McCall Pattern Co., which in a few years yielded him and fellow investors a 90-to-1 return. With a little help from his friend Michael Milken, he went on to engineer another coup—the LBO for nearly one billion dollars of Beatrice International Foods. At the time of his death, Lewis had the Paris-based enterprise operating on an enviably profitable basis throughout Europe. This account of Lewis's achievements emphasizes his tough- minded, goal-oriented approach to personal and philanthropic as well as financial affairs. (16 pages of 28 photos, not seen) (First serial to Black Enterprise) Read full book review >