Books by Jesse Sublett

Released: April 1, 1992

Blues bass-player Martin Fender (Rock Critic Murders, Tough Baby), while waiting for a gig to pan out in L.A., agrees to Cyclone Davis's midnight recording session of a song that he claims will prove that Richard James, the legend, didn't die in that plane crash back in the `70's. But Cyclone is a no-show—murdered—and to get back to Austin, his home base, Martin accepts the task of backing up Dovie de Carlo, James's old girlfriend and a survivor of that fateful plane crash, who has made a career of rerecording James's old hits. This decision antagonizes Dovie's ex, the paranoid Nate, and puts Martin under surveillance of drug- enforcement agents, who have long sniffed around Dovie's entourage- -including her manager, Otis, who owns the rights to all the James material and who routinely uses Dovie as a punching bag. Why does she stick with Otis? Is Otis really Richard James? Several beatings and more deaths later, Martin establishes that plane's passenger list and the gory details of what happened when they landed. Excellent riff on the blues, club musicians, sound systems, and chord changes, but the hokey did-he-survive? scenario is an oft-played melody (see Bruce Cook's Death as a Career Move, p. 77). Martin, however, is an appealing, offbeat hero. Read full book review >

A hip, twangy, mostly hard-boiled first novel centering on the rhythm-and-blues crowd around Austin, Texas. Bassist Martin Fender ("as in the guitar") agrees to a weekend gig reuniting the "almost legendary" True Love band; but at rehearsals, K.C., the lead player, has clearly lost it. That night, his fleshy redheaded girl crawls into bed with Martin, and Billy's making tapes in the other room while scribbling "Do the Do" on a piece of paper. A shot rings out: K.C.'s dead, his guitar is missing, ditto a kilo of cocaine. Suicide, says Lasko the weary, sardonic cop. Murder, says Martin, whose search for the killer and the drugs involves him with Cole and Neil, two rock critics, who are also soon dead; real-estate entrepreneur Stubbs; Ward, the rock-concert ticket scalper; the Futura Corporation with illegally floated bond certificates; and a message on an answering machine saying we "want 1969." Many complications later, Martin hears two gunshots on Billy's tapes and wraps up three murders, a drug-running scheme, and a major securities scam. Brash, insider's view of the R&B contingent, with a frisky plot twist or two. A strong introduction for Martin, whose sequel is in the works. Read full book review >
ESTHER'S FOLLIES by Jesse Sublett

"Intriguing theatrical history, if a bit too nice for its raucous subject."
Institutional sketch comedy has an illustrious home in Texas, according to this history of Austin's Esther's Follies. Read full book review >