Black writers are woefully underrepresented in my Goodreads lists, and so I’m trying to add more African American authors to my regular readings, as well as black authors from around the world. My local librarians mentioned to me that Steven Barnes is a great sci-fi writer. When I was browsing his books I found out that he and his spouse Ms. Due have worked with actor Blair Underwood on this hard-boiled mystery/thriller series around a character called Tennyson Hardwick. Ten is the son of a respected and recently retired LAPD cop. Ten made the opposite choices of his dad in a lot of key ways – the main one being working as a gigolo. He also dabbled in being a bodyguard before becoming a struggling actor. Fortunately for Ten, he inherited his dad’s strong personal moral code and sense of justice.
That’s what leads him to uncover a city-wide scandal involving the death of a celebrity. Hollywood, the music business, the police – everyone might have had a role in the death and Hardwick is going to get to the bottom of things, one way or another.
I have to admit that prior to this series I wasn’t all that familiar with Blair Underwood’s acting. (I was familiar with his BU clothing line, though, as it’s reasonably priced, stylish, and available at K&G.) I think Underwood’s time in Hollywood definitely helped give the book an insider’s feel. Certain bars, hotels, and other behind the scenes things feel like they’re from his own experiences. Especially interesting was his discussion of The Face – the handsome face that opens doors otherwise closed to people, especially African American men.
I had fun reading this first book of four in the series, although some of the romantic scenes were a little too graphic for my preferences. (To be fair it says on the cover he was a gigolo. That’s really on me.) I will be reading the next book in the series, so it’s safe to say I enjoyed this one!