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by Bill Moody

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 1997
ISBN: 0-8027-3291-7
Publisher: Walker

 Is it live or Memorex--or a ringer? That's the question Prof. Ace Buffington, his newly promoted friend in Las Vegas, has for Evan Horne (Death of a Tenor Man, 1995, etc.). Seems Ken Perkins, a shadowy ``partner'' of Ace's, has discovered an unreleased recording of trumpeter Clifford Brown, already a legend at his death 40 years ago at age 25. For a fee, will Evan confirm that the horn player really is Brown? Sidelined from the piano by a hand injury, Evan can't think of any better way to pick up an easy few hundred dollars, even though he can't understand why he'd have to be driven out of town blindfolded to listen to the recording. It's all very hush-hush--until the two shots that kill Perkins while Evan's relaxing in the next room after duly giving his opinion that, yes, that's Clifford Brown. He'll spend the rest of this case hunting down the provenance of that tape and a battered trumpet Perkins claimed belonged to Brown as well; pondering how the tape could've been faked; and trying to nail Perkins's other partner, a blandly smiling collector who skedaddled within moments after those two shots went off. There's never much mystery about who killed Perkins, but the tale of the tape gives Evan an excuse for some great duets with aging jazzmen with long memories, and a supporting role in the strangest confession ever recorded.