An ex-cop's habits die hard....
Savvy, streetwise former cop Mali Anderson left the NYPD with a lawsuit and a lot of bitterness. Now she's on her way to a master's in sociology, living with her jazz musician father and mothering her orphaned nephew, Alvin. As Mali walks past the stylish town houses of Harlem's Strivers Row to meet Alvin at his rehearsal with the Uptown Children's Chorus, she hears a child's panicked screams--and witnesses a struggle. Mali thwarts the child's abduction, but as the car roars away, she finds a body in the street. The dead man is her friend Erskin Harding, tour director of the Chorus.
The memory of her friend and the peril of her nephew drive Mali to track down the killer. It's a search that will take her from a gossip-filled beauty parlor to a dark, decaying crack house and--as anonymous warnings escalate into violence--could even lead her to her grave.
A working-class neighborhood in Harlem is brought vividly to life in Edwards's hard-hitting second novel (In the Shadow of the Peacock). Mali Anderson, who was fired from the NYPD after slugging a fellow officer who had insulted her, lives in her childhood home with her father and orphaned nephew. On her way to pick up her nephew from a rehearsal with the world-famous Uptown Children's Chorus, Mali thwarts an attempt to kidnap a young chorus member; but she is too late to save her friend, the Chorus's director, who is fatally shot in the incident. Although she feels the investigation of both the murder and the attempted abduction is in good hands with two cops she trusts (one of whom she would like to get to know much better), Mali picks up some information on her own. Her involvement intensifies after her best friend, Deborah, a librarian whom Mali had asked to probe the background of the Chorus's director of development, is attacked in her apartment. Spurred by Deborah's nearly fatal attack and undeterred by anonymous phone calls she is receiving, Mali solicits help from her cop friends, after which the phone calls become more threatening, her father is attacked and her house is ransacked. Edwards's Harlem, with its beauty parlors and jazz clubs, family homes and burned-out crack houses, offers a vibrant, varied backdrop for this gritty tale and its sharp-edged, appealing heroine.