Black is Back (Black Series #2)


  • Black2Author: Russell Blake
  • Performed by RC Bray
  • Published; Janda Management and released on Audible May 2014
  • Category: Hardboiled/Noir Fiction
  • five-stars

In this second installment in the acclaimed BLACK series, Artemus Black, Hollywood PI to the stars, dives into the rap music scene to stop a killer – with often disastrous and humorous results. Fans of hard-boiled detective fiction from Elmore Leonard, Michael Connelly and Lawrence Block will enjoy Black’s trials and tribulations, all delivered with a tongue-in-cheek cynicism that’s uniquely Russell Blake.

Not a lot has changed in Black’s world. He’s still being needled mercilessly by Roxie, his assistant from hell, with her all black wardrobe and full sleeve tattoos. On the upside Black has managed to hang on to his girlfriend of several weeks, Sylvia. She is a good influence and Black’s anger issues have decreased.

Black, a little depressed about his upcoming 43rd birthday, is not helped by Dr Kelso making him feel crappy about not giving up smoking and drinking too much. Then, to make matters worse, his parents invite Black’s ex wife, Nina, to the surprise birthday dinner they and Sylvia have organised for him. The evening rapidly turns into a hilarious fiasco.

Things are looking up on the financial front though, with Black’s latest case involving a seemingly up and coming rapper and his entourage. Black is soon involved with the nefarious behind the scenes machinations of the promoters and managers in the music business. The plot is definitely conceivable and the miscreants are credible. I like that the violence is not gratuitous but fitting for the storyline.

Black’s head started to hurt just trying to keep all the rivalries straight, not to mention the monikers. Why the hell didn’t they have normal names, like REO Speedwagon or AC/DC? How could anyone differentiate between a Blunt, a 2Bad and a B-Side? Especially, as an ex-musician, the entire phenomenon escaped him, where the singers didn’t sing and nobody played an instrument…and that was the most popular form of music in the nation?

Black’s developing character and personality show a basically generous and good nature but one that can be ruthless when necessary. He’s complex and flawed enough to be realistic but not so much as to be anything but loveable. Black is rapidly becoming one of my favourite protagonists.

A great plot, poking a little bit of fun at the music industry, I think. A surprising ending which almost costs Black very dearly indeed. The writing, again, is excellent and full of humour with laugh out loud moments. I love Black’s descriptions of Mugsy…’the odds of Mugsy being able to fit into most alleys is a stretch’…’he’s got an eating-too-much-and-moving-around problem’….’he looks like a bowling ball with legs’

I’m loving this series and, judging by the book covers, Black doesn’t need to worry about getting older or his ‘body breaking down’. Quite the opposite in fact, looking good and darkly handsome, I’d say ;-p

Another stellar performance from RC Bray with great characterisations, especially the rapper street talk, gangsta style.

The Black Series may be purchased from Amazon US and Amazon UK

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