South by Southeast-A Tennyson Hardwick Novel by Blair Underwood | Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes
First, let me preface this review by saying, I seriously enjoyed this novel – it was told the way a thriller should be told – it made me yearn to see it on the big screen. And it didn’t hurt one bit that I envisioned the author, seductively-handsome actor Blair Underwood in the role of the protagonist, Tennyson Hardwick.
Licentious super-sleuth Tennyson Hardwick is back in what looks to be his most compelling case to date. South by Southeast the fourth installment in this award-winning mystery series proves to be a great addition to the already note-worthy series and as a stand-alone thriller. It starts off as a smooth comfortable tale of an ex-gigolo, part-time actor - who’s lost his drive and perhaps his box office appeal. However, early on in the story there are hints that promise and deliver an entertaining read like no other - as this tale captures and moves the reader’s attention on an excursion from LA to South Beach and back, at the same time Tennyson becomes engrossed in the murder investigation of several prostitutes no one seems to care about.
Tennyson Hardwick is juggling quite a few issues in his personal life - dealing with his feisty soon-to-be-adopted teenage daughter, repairing old wounds with his father, and battling with the feelings he still has for his ex-girlfriend – with so much going on, he hardly has enough time to deal with his ailing acting career.
After Tennyson lands a role in a zombie flick directed by Oscar nominated director, Gustavo Escobar, his professional life gets a needed jolt of adrenalin and things seemingly start to look up for Ten. But his less-than-spectacular come-back is marred when Tennyson finds himself thrust back into his detective role after the body of his daughter's old friend Maria, a working girl from Los Angeles washes ashore.
As Tennyson tries to make sense of the case he gets caught up in a cat and mouse game of wits with the psychotic killer. Tennyson's world is unexpectedly turned upside down when the murder gets personal by taking the life of someone close to him. Hardwick takes a vow to track down and rid the world of the heartless serial killer, but in doing so, he discovers the horror has really just begun. Vengeance is the killer's fuel and an undiscovered secret is the motive. The question is, has Tennyson underestimated his delirious demented opponent and will he survive long enough to prevent the reign of terror that is planned for Chela, April, and anyone else close to him?
This skillfully crafted suspenseful page-turner is expertly narrated in both 1st person and 3rd person POV which the writers blend seamlessly together. The authors take readers on an unforgettable journey and along the way introduce them to some of the most believable well-rounded, yet colorful characters imaginable. Characters they are able to relate to, root for, and even detest: Fallen hero, Tennyson Hardwick; Chela - a rebellious teenager with a sorted past; April – the ex-girlfriend that’s trying to tame Ten; Ten's dad, Richard Hardwick - a retired LAPD Captain; Gustavo Escobar- the over-the-top director; Maria - a working girl, who mysteriously drowns; Raphael - a high-end pimp with too many resources, Mother - an aging madam with close ties to Ten and Chela, Mouse Girl - an annoying working girl, too naïve to know better, Lt. Rodrick Nelson – determine to arrest Ten for murder; Lydia Hernandez – a detective that stalls the investigation, and a few others.
South by Southeast is for a reading audience that enjoys a great mystery thriller that offers an entertaining read. It is a remarkably consuming heart-thumping knuckle-wrenching thriller, which can easily become the avid reader's new favorite novel.
I would highly recommend Blair Underwood's novels, he and his co-writers, Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes have done such a terrific job of bringing some incredibly vivid characters to life who help to tell the most intriguing stories in the Tennyson Hardwick series. The series includes: Casaenegra, In The Night of the Heat, From Cape Town with Love, and the latest, South by Southeast on sale 9/18/12.
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Reviewed by Chrystal Dorsey