Thursday, March 10, 2011

Book Review: Murder on the Down Low by Pamela Samuels Young

Enjoy a page-turning thriller that combines secret lives, murder, and the law, in Murder on the Down Low by Pamela Samuels Young.

L.A. attorney Vernetta Henderson and her outlandish friend, Special, are tossed for a loop when a young lawyer's actions cause the death of their friend and Special's cousin, Maya. Leading the charge in a wrongful death suit against Eugene, who was also Maya's fiancé, Special isn't satisfied and begins to exact her own type of revenge.

Prominent African-American men are being gunned down on the streets of L.A. and police struggle to find the connection among the victims. They appear to be family men, well-educated, attractive, and successful. Maybe there is more to these men than meets the eye.

A shocking revelation ties the wrongful death lawsuit to the puzzling murders. When Special's brand of justice goes too far, it's possible no one, not even, Vernetta, can save her.

Having read Young's Buying Time, I was eager to dive into Murder on the Down Low. I received my copy of this book for Christmas two years ago. The author had been on a virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book! (at the time Pump Up Your Book Promotion), and the premise sounded so interesting that I added it to my Amazon Wish List. Santa kindly left a copy of the book for me under the tree, but with all my other reading commitments I hadn't been able to get to it. When I heard that Young was touring with this book again, I knew I had the perfect excuse to dig it out of my TBR pile.

Murder on the Down Low tackles a weighty issue. The book opens with the murder of the first victim, but moves swiftly to Maya's funeral. Maya's friends, Vernetta, attorney Nichelle Ayers, and LAPD detective J.C. Sparks, are distraught over the loss of their friend and concerned that Special hasn't shown up yet. Special finally arrives, and when she gets her chance to speak, she lets everyone in the church know that Eugene Nelson is responsible for her cousin's death. She follows this up with attacking Eugene outside the church, setting into motion a dangerous game of payback that is certain to backfire on her.

This is an emotional, face-paced thriller that you won't be able to put down by the time you to get the end of Chapter 1. The reason I say the end of the chapter is that I felt a bit too much time was dedicated to providing details of the first victim's lifestyle prior to his untimely death. I understand this might have been done to set the stage for exactly what type of person the murderer was after, but if I saw this book in the store and picked it off the shelf to read the first page, I might not have purchased it, which would have been a horrible shame since it is a superb story. Perhaps the victim's lifestyle could have been revealed early in the police investigation.

Other than those first three pages, I was totally hooked. I couldn't put the book down; I stayed up late reading it--way too late. I polished it off within a few days and would have read it again if I had the time.

What Young did well in Buying Time and in Murder on the Down Low is create complex characters that are blended into a riveting plot. You think you have the murderer pegged, and then a new clue is uncovered that turns you in a different direction. I honestly never saw the end coming.

What I did not know until reading the back cover, is that Vernetta and Special have been in other books written by Young ( Every Reasonable Doubt and In Firm Pursuit.) This came as a bit of a shock because this book is a perfect stand-alone. I'm definitely going to be reading the earlier adventures of these two friends.

Murder on the Down Low is intense. It's edgy. Young educates and entertains with this novel. I look forward to reading more of her work.

Title:  Murder on the Down Low
Author:  Pamela Samuels Young
Publisher: Goldman House Publishing
ISBN-10: 0981562701
ISBN-13: 978-0981562704
SRP:  $14.95

Also available in a Kindle edition for only $3.99!

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