Thursday, December 28, 2017

Review of Solo Hand by Bill Moody (1994, Walker & Company)

Evan Horne is having a bad year – a car accident severed the tendons in his right ‘solo’ hand ending his career as a jazz pianist and his wife has divorced him, moving in with his former boss, singer Lonnie Cole. When highly compromising pictures of Cole and country star, Charlie Crisp, along with a blackmail note, are sent to the singer that names Evan as the go-between he’s given little choice but to cooperate. However, Evan isn’t just going to just hand over the million dollar ransom; he’s also going use his insider knowledge of the music business to try and uncover the blackmailer. What he discovers is the dark arts of false accounting, royalty and return scams, and other record company and agent tricks to promote artists and divest them of their earnings. Those tricks seem to also run to blackmail and murder, with Evan soon becoming framed for the extortion and the target of violence. Even with his old pal, now cop, Coop, helping, it seems Evan will do well to find the blackmailer given the number of potential suspects and backstabbing nature of the music industry.

Solo Hand is the first in a series that features Evan Horne, ex-jazz pianist turned amateur detective, who investigates crimes related to the music business. In this outing, Horne is drawn into what at first seems like a straightforward case of blackmail against his former employer, jazz singer Lonnie Cole, which turns to violence and murder. The strength of the tale is Moody’s insider knowledge of the music industry, its dark underbelly and how it works as business to generate profits at the musicians expense. There's also a good sense of place and music scene relating to Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Evan Horne is an interesting enough character, uncertain about his future after a car accident that has damaged his right hand, but with enough wits to play detective, albeit with the help of his cop buddy, and he’s trying to navigate a colourful set of characters working in the industry. The plot unfolds at a nice pace and there’s a few twists and turns, though the tale lacks a little heft, the characters feel a little thin, and there’s no major surprises as to the perpetrator or outcome. Overall, a solid amateur PI tale with an authentic take on the dirty side of the music industry.

1 comment:

Rick Robinson said...

I like Moody's books, though the first person present tense puts me off some.