When successful and charming rock journalist Mick Sever goes to Jamaica to see the 'next big thing', a reggae/rap band with a flare for hypnotic beats and violent lyrics, he finds that there's more than just sun, sand and music on the island of Jamaica. Danger, lies, sex and murder abound in the tropical paradise.
Led by front man Derrick Lyman, a talented and captivating performer with a radical political message, the band seems set for instant stardom. But then a young girl is savagely murdered at an afterparty celebrating the band's first American concert in Miami. Roland Johnson, the band's security guard is caught, with a knife in his hand at the crime scene. Roland is arrested and charged with murder. For all involved the case is closed - all except Mick Sever.
Sever, a relentless and charming sleuth, isn't convinced that the simple guard is the cold-blooded killer everyone thinks he is. Stories of other murders and violence that follow the band lead Sever to believe there is more to the story than meets the eye. Threatened by the band, the police, and dangerous unknown assailants, Sever with the help of his beautiful and intelligent ex-wife Ginny, is determined to learn the truth.
In the world of music, with double deals, beautiful women and sexy sounds, nothing is as it seems. Set against the exotic backdrops of Florida and Jamaica, this is an edgy, atmospheric, edge-of-your-seat mystery that will keep you guessing right up to the shocking ending.
Set in Jamaica and Florida and steeped in the lore of rock and roll, pot, Rastafarianism and reggae rap, Bruns's first novel, alas, provides only moderate mystery entertainment. Mick Sever, a renowned rock critic and author of a bestselling book about a rock star's murder, agrees to do a piece on a new reggae group headed by the charismatic Derrick Layman (hailed as "the second coming of Bob Marley"), whose misogynistic lyrics advocate violence against women. Two young women have already been murdered after Derrick and the Laments concerts. When a third victim is stabbed to death, the alleged killer, Roland Jamison, one of Layman's security guards, is found standing over the body with a bloody knife. The police, understandably, arrest Jamison, but Sever, like Inspector Clouseau under similar obvious circumstances in A Shot in the Dark, doubts the man's guilt based on his bewildered expression. Bruns makes much of this and the authorities' unwillingness to accept it as evidence. There are few suspects but their complex relationships generate most of the narrative interest. There are two attempts to drive Sever off the road, a bashing or two and a fistfight, but otherwise little action and no suspense. Sever may not be a terribly compelling sleuth, but his extensive knowledge of the rock world helps redeem the story, as does a clever and logical solution to the crimes.