Investigating the alleged suicide of a hip-hop star, Gunner uncovers a murderCarlton Elbridge, better known as C. E. Digga Jones, was too nice for gangsta rap. When he allegedly shot himself, he had millions in the bank, his face on the cover of Time magazine, and a nation of fanatics to mourn his death. He was found in a locked room, gun in his hand and bullet in his brain, and the police assumed it was suicide. Only the rapper’s father thinks otherwise. Suspecting that his son was killed as the result of a hip-hop feud, Carlton’s father hires private detective Aaron Gunner to investigate the death. As Gunner tries to juggle the case with security work for a conservative black talk-show host, he learns that for some in the hip-hop world, the thug life is much more than an act.
"There was a threshold beyond which an investigation became more about his own hunger for the truth than his client's, and somewhere over the last 48 hours, Gunner had stepped across it." Aaron Gunner, Haywood's gritty Los Angeles African-American PI, not only steps over that threshold, he carries the reader with him like an eager bride. Despite his always precarious finances, Gunner declines a job guarding a threatened African-American talk show host, Sparkle Johnson, because he doesn't agree with her right-wing views, and she doesn't want the protection her agent is trying to arrange. Gunner also doesn't care to investigate the death of Carlton William Elbridge, better known as rapper C.E. Digga Jones. Police have written off Eldridge's demise as suicide and only the deceased's father seems inclined to dispute the evidence. Despite his reluctance, Gunner is drawn into both cases, meeting up with an old nemesis, the Defenders of the Bloodline (When Last Seen Alive), and encountering what Haywood depicts as the brutish universe of gangsta rap. Haywood juices his compelling mystery with sharp dialogue, and Gunner's savvy intelligence makes it a pleasure to follow the PI through a maze of betrayals and greed. As Gunner navigates the meaner, deadlier streets of L.A., Haywood infuses the hard-boiled genre with renewed vigor. FYI: Haywood also writes the Joe and Dottie Loudermilk mysteries.