by Bill Moody
Walker and Company
A long-lost recording by Clifford Brown is discovered by a mysterious record collector, along with an old trumpet with the initials C.B. engraved in the bell. Are the tape and trumpet authentic? If so, they'd surely be quite valuable. But would they be worth the price of a murder?
Thus is set in motion the latest Evan Horne jazz mystery, recently out in paperback. Horne is not your typical hero sleuth. A somewhat broken-down journeyman pianist, whose right hand no longer works the way he'd like it to, Horne occasionally supplements his tenuous musical career with freelance detective work. In the previous novel in this series, Death of a Tenor Man, which has been optioned as a film, Horne tackled the unexplained death of Wardell Gray, whose body was found in the Las Vegas desert forty years ago. Here, his initially simple assignment is to determine whether the tape in question, which features a blazing trumpet player who sounds uncannily like Clifford Brown, is the genuine article, and not a brilliantly planned fake. When one of the principals winds up dead from a gunshot, Horne finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation that takes him off on a tour of the dark side of the Las Vegas and LA jazz scenes.
Author Bill Moody knows this turf well. A jazz drummer who has played with the likes of Earl Hines, Lou Rawls, and Maynard Ferguson, Moody provides an intimate view of the world of jazz musicians, record companies, and hard-core collectors who are serious about their record collections. Dead serious. This is not an action-packed thriller, but jazz fans will get a kick out of all this inside stuff – the name-dropping of obscure performers and labels from the '50s, the details about the life and death of Clifford Brown, the just-right use of jazz slang and shorthand – and appreciate Moody's obvious passion for, and knowledge of, the music.