New York Daily News columnist Hamil plunges p.i. Bobby Emmet into the lurid world of gangsta rap, where he encounters nonstop violence, gratuitous sex and other staples of trashy crime fiction.
Cookie Calhoun, quintessential downhearted frail, lives for her kids, and now a great day looms for two of them. Janis and Jimi Jim have formed Bigga Wiggaz, an act that’s taken them to the finals of a climactic rap battle whose winner will be sent on a career-making worldwide tour. Sadly, it’s a contest Cookie never sees resolved, for on her way to work a hit-and-runner kills her before the horrified eyes of Brian, her youngest son. Flash forward ten years. Convinced that Cookie’s demise was not accidental, Janis and Jimi Jim hire Bobby Emmet to prove their point. Actually, it’s gorgeous Janis (“so hot that Bobby half-expected steam to rise out of her taut, shimmering skin”) who’s the more convinced, insisting that they’re facing a life or death situation. Brian, now 16, suffers from a case of survivor’s guilt so acute that he issues a weird ultimatum: if they can’t prove Cookie’s hit-and-run was premeditated, Brian, burdened unbearably, will off himself on the fast-approaching tenth anniversary of her death. Bent cops, corrupt politicians and more of those steamy bimbos are all grist for Hamil’s signature overplotting (Long Time Gone, 2002, etc.) as Bobby attempts to lift the veil on Cookie’s crumbling.
Shopworn stuff overall.