Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Murder on the Down Low by Pamela Samuels Young - Review

Murder on the Down Low was an intriguing read, something outside of what I normally would pick up, but I am so very glad that I was able to get my hands on this for review. If I could sum up my impression after reading it would be to say that this is a touching novel about friendship, with a huge emphasis on education regarding controversial issues like AIDS/HIV and sexuality.

Book Summary:

A high-profile lawsuit erupts into chaos, revealing its place in a larger spree of violence in this scandalous tale of lust, lies, and vengeance. A brazen gunman is targeting prominent African American men on the streets of Los Angeles, and police are completely baffled. At the same time, savvy big-firm attorney Vernetta Henderson and her outrageous sidekick, Special, lead the charge for revenge against a man whose deceit caused his fianceĆ©'s death. For Special, hauling the man into court and suing him for wrongful death just isn’t good enough. While she exacts her own brand of justice, a shocking revelation connects the contentious lawsuit and the puzzling murders.

My Thoughts:

I really did enjoy this book, and was completely sucked into finding out who was responsible for all of the murders against the prominent African-American men. More than that though, I was completely taken with the relationship between the four main characters. The author did a tremendous job writing so that readers really felt how close they were, how they had each others' backs no matter what, and the lengths that they would go to to defend each other. Each woman played such a key role in the storyline and they even though they were each fighting their own personal battles, they came together when the time called and showed strength and class.

I have to admit that this book educated me quite a bit, which I am sure was part of the author's intention. I was uneducated about the term "down-low" even though I have used it as slang from time-to-time. I was not knowledgeable about the lifestyle that men on the down-low lead, probably as uneducated as their spouses who in this novel, had to find out the hard way. I was also not as educated on HIV/AIDS in the black community and the author really does show readers the impact of what an entire community being uneducated has done.

I loved how the author also got across the message the groups and organizations formed out of anger and with goals to hurt those that have hurt them are not the right way to go. The scene in the book when Nichelle is giving a speech at the SADDDL luncheon is one of my favorites in the book.

Another part of the book that captivated me was chapter 75 when Nichelle visits her old teacher, Professor Curtis Michaels. He educated her on all things related to gay issues, men on the down-low, and sexuality in our society in general. This chapter was strategically placed to educate the reader on the background information needed to solve the murders. I thought this chapter in itself was quite a lot of great information to take in.

Another aspect of this novel that I appreciated was the short chapters. This made it such a quick read and I really liked changing back and forth between the characters frequently - it made the read that much more interesting because it was always changing directions.

This is not a book I would have picked up on my own, but I am very glad that it fell into my hands...there is something to be learned from everything we read, and this book is a great combination of education and a great murder mystery.

Visit Pamela Samuels Young's website HERE
Buy Murder on the Down Low from Barnes and Noble HERE

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