Forget about Tiffany Jones, the diabetic comeback diva who didn’t appear onstage at the Apollo Theater because she was dead backstage of unknown causes: Who slit Dutch heroin smuggler Kees Van derVall’s throat, and shot rapper Brixton Hewitt, and cut self-made Dallas millionaire K.J. Hunter’s brake line, and racked up the other dozen casualties here? London reporter Mariana Blair wants to know so that she can use the story to claw her way up from the Globe’s entertainment beat; but she can’t, because she’s one of the victims. Kim Carlyle wants to know because she’s Tiffany’s manager and agent, and once a cryptic phone call from Mariana connects several of the murders, she begins to suspect a deep-laid plot concerning black music, diamond smuggling, and the Napolini crime family. Readers will want to know even more, however, because whoever comes up with the best solution to the crimes stands to win $10,000. The pseudonymous author, a fig leaf barely concealing impresario Bill Adler and editor Mel Watkins (African American Humor, not reviewed), has distinctly improved on the prose of the Adler-helmed Who Killed the Robins Family?(1983), but since forgettable characters are introduced only to be dispatched amid exotic locations and deceptive clues, the tale has no more momentum than a volume of uncompleted short stories.
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