Johnson offers a debut thriller set in the elite business circles of Atlanta.
Middle-aged Chris Sampson, the ambitious son of an African-American U.S. Army general, has amassed a large fortune by founding and selling defense-technology companies. His success as an entrepreneur and his desire to prove himself to the old, white, Southern business establishment lead him to purchase a $9 million mansion for himself and his family in the elite Buckhead district of Atlanta. There, he’s initiated into a secretive club of other wealthy African-American men, helmed by his own attorney, Jack Cramer. “The Buckhead Tyrones,” as they call themselves, “maintained a lifestyle that straddled the white-bread play of CEOs and the antics of hip-hop moguls.” The perks of this lifestyle include sports cars, luxury vacations, expensive liquor and cigars, and parties with strippers. Chris—who has long prided himself as being a loyal, hardworking, Catholic family man—soon finds himself enmeshed in a torrid affair with an exotic dancer named Jazmine. But just as he’s about to finalize a long-planned deal which will make him a billionaire, he finds Jazmine brutally murdered. Chris is arrested for the crime and finds that he has no one to turn to but his wife, a skilled criminal defense lawyer. Johnson cleverly opens his novel in medias res at the scene of the murder, immersing readers in scandal and intrigue from the very start. Neither the book’s characters nor its story are terribly complex; the author summarily presents people’s backgrounds and establishes early on that there are really only two viable suspects in Jazmine’s murder. Much of the dialogue is expository and lacks snap and wit. Still, the author skillfully arranges events to build suspense and unflinchingly explores themes of greed and lust that will certainly entice and entertain readers. Johnson’s in-depth understanding of financial maneuvers, meanwhile, provides believable stakes and a dash of verisimilitude.
A fast-paced, if workmanlike, tale set in the world of CEOs.