A straight-arrow African-American cop is caught in the middle when the worlds of gangsta rap and Islamic fundamentalism collide.
As he gears up for his second adventure (after The Long Mile, not reviewed), John Shannon finds himself a stranger to both Islam and rap. His music, for instance, is jazz. His religion defies easy labeling, but it definitely isn’t Muslim-derived. There’s no way he should be running his present investigation, and he knows it, but a loving dad has no choice once he’s made a commitment to JJ, his 14-year-old son. Heartbroken by the murder of Yousef al-Salaam, the charismatic, enormously popular rapper, JJ has begged his father to catch the killer. It’s a mission impossible for Shannon to refuse, who earns the ultimate filial accolade by accepting it: “You’re cool, dad.” A quicksand of complications swiftly opens beneath Shannon’s feet. To begin with, he’s moved from the NYPD to the city’s Office of Municipal Security, which doesn’t do murder, as his boss is quick to point out. Moreover, Shannon is dazzled by the inexhaustible list of usual suspects, a rich and varied population of rival performers and Islamic extremists, all hell-bent on springing the rapper trap and on keeping their sinister reasons secret.
Earnest and well-intentioned, but Shannon, a thoroughly nice guy, lacks the page-turning edginess of Easy Rawlins.