Black Orchid Blues
The title says it all. Black Orchid Blues is the sad, sweet sound of a mellow saxophone wafting around the tables of the smoky Cinnamon Club, the jazz blues venue in the heart of Harlem where Persia Walker begins her third mystery story set in Harlem’s Roaring ’20s free-for-all.
Lanie Price, society columnist, tells the story – her story, actually. It begins with her interview of the Cinnamon Club’s star performer, the glamorous transvestite billed as the Black Orchid. The interview literally explodes as a trench-coated, machine-gun toting thug shoots up the Cinnamon Club and drags the Orchid away. And this is just for starters. Lanie has a bent for investigative reporting, and when the kidnapper fails to demand a ransom, she takes on the investigation, wading through Harlem’s demimonde to piece the crime together. The kaleidoscope clicks, but too late for Lanie to escape the kidnapper’s trap – which propels her into the perfect climax: surprising, exciting, and logical.
What I liked most about this book was its mood: sassy and sexy, kind of sensitive, not unlike the blues at all. The story itself is classic crime fiction with well-placed clues for readers to follow and whose characters are drawn with a dexterous hand. Black Orchid Blues is never slow moving, but behind its rapid beat, you always hear the strains of a sad, sweet story. This is a winner.