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DYING IN THE DARK


By Valerie Wilson Wesley

One World/Ballantine (September 28, 2004) Hardcover
ISBN: 0345468066

Reviewed by Karen Meek

After a four-year absence, Newarkís best PI, Tamara Hayle is back, in her seventh adventure. Tamara used to be a cop but, as a black woman, the sexism and racism she faced forced her to resign and become a PI. A single parent, she and her son Jamal, just about make ends meet and the man she thinks she loves is a dear friend with a sick wife and Tamara refuses to cross the line to something more intimate.

Tamara has been dreaming of an old school friend, Celia Jones. They were like sisters growing up but a row over a man ruined their friendship. But now Celia is dead, shot and killed in her own apartment. Celia haunts Tamara until Celiaís son Cecil stops by her office and hires her to find his motherís killer. Cecil is about Jamalís age but appears close to a life of crime as he has more money than he ought and hangs around with a bad group. Tamara no sooner takes the case then Cecil is himself killed. Tamara continues to seek justice for her old friend. She backtracks along Celiaís life and finds that she has impacted on the lives and families of several important men who they both admired from afar at school. Did Celia upset the apple cart enough to make one of them hate her enough to shoot her?

This is an enjoyable and interesting read, set in Newark, a city with a bad reputation but one which is apparently improving. Tamara is a likeable heroine and the story is well paced. I would say the identity of the culprit isnít too difficult to deduce but there are a few other twists to the story which arenít predictable. What also comes across is Tamaraís love for Jamal, how she tries to keep him safe and away from trouble and the sobering fact that there arenít any second chances for boys like him. I hope there will be more outings for Tamara Hayle, and soon.

This title was also released in paperback in September 05.

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