A wealthy, highly promiscuous black businessman is murdered in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics, and the suspect list could nearly fill the Olympic Stadium.
Therein lies one of this whodunit's main problems. Murder-victim Lance Herndon, a self-made millionaire who spent fast and lived large, had so many girlfriends and sex partners that Stodghill is hard-pressed to even name them all, let alone deliver three-dimensional portraits. That's too bad, because Herndon himself is an intriguing character. Raised in New York, he headed south and quickly joined Atlanta's burgeoning class of successful and wealthy young black entrepreneurs. But his appetites, particularly for women and fastliving, eventually caught up with him. At the time of his murder, in August 1996, Herndon's computer-consulting company was insolvent, and his juggling of mistresses was becoming impossible. Stodghill does a creditable job of setting up the crime, but his recounting of the police investigation and the subsequent murder trial feels abrupt and skimpy. The woman accused of the brutal killing, a girlfriend who had been provided use of a Mercedes and a credit card by Herndon, never does come into focus, and her motives remain as murky as the actual events on the night of the bloody slaying. Stodghill does a better job of setting the scene, taking us on a whirlwind tour of Atlanta's hip clubs and upper-crust galas. It was a world in which Herndon was a flamboyant prince, a businessman who lavished money and favors on potential clients and sex partners with dizzying aplomb.
Herndon’s magnetic personality leaves us all the more eager to learn exactly why he was so savagely murdered. Sadly, it's an answer that this less-than-satisfying book never provides.