CASANEGRA by Blair Underwood


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Introducing Tennyson Hardwick, who is black, beautiful and—if you ask the LAPD—bad as they come.

The police like him for not one but two high-profile murders, the second a cop’s no less. The first is that of gorgeous, iconic “Afrodite,” world-class rapper, A-list movie star, heartthrob in the BPW (Black People’s World) and millionaire several times over. Back in the day, Tennyson knew her as Serena Johnston, his first actual client. What kind of client? Well, that gets a bit complicated since Tennyson—call him Ten—leads a multifaceted professional life. He’s an actor, an escort and a bodyguard, lines that can cross so confusingly that often enough Ten is hard put to isolate exactly what he’s being paid for—Serena a case in point. About that, Ten, whose personal code allows for some moral ambiguity, says, defensively, “I’m not the only actor who’s discovered the financial rewards of sex-for-pay.” On Serena’s dead body the police find Ten’s business card, and willy-nilly he’s tabbed leading suspect, doubled when another of his cards is discovered in the car containing the corpse of Detective Robert Jenkins. It’s a cheese-cloth of a case—Ten knows he’s innocent, of course, as do the cops—but political exigencies dictate a rush to judgment and the attendant need for a quick arrest. It follows, then, that catching the real killer becomes Ten’s task. Failing that, he’s toast.

Some of the violence borders on the sadistic and the sex can seem transparently exploitive, which is not to deny that Underwood (Before I Got Here, 2006) and his collaborators may have a bankable thing in super cool, catnip-to-the-ladies Tennyson Hardwick. Since this appears to be the debut of a series, time will tell.

Pub Date: July 10th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-7432-8731-9
Page count: 310pp
Publisher: Atria
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2007


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