The Lost Treasures of R&B by Nelson George

I loved, loved loved this book!!! I want to get the other books in the series as soon as possible although each book can be read as a stand alone novel because the author gives enough details about the previous stories and how they link to this book.

This is a detective story but it is also much more and there are so many great themes and ideas in the book that the author has an opportunity  to travel many roads before the character or stories are exhausted. D Hunter is a security specialist who has returned to his old neighborhood of Brownsville. There are changes occurring as the neighborhood gentrifies but still retains the same old issues and problems: public housing high rises and low rises that have bred gang activity and drug activity; corrupt cops; hipsters and a stalwart Hasidim community.

Through D’s security work he has alternate jobs he is working on: locating a rare R&B recording; finding out the truth behind a real estate company and a corrupt cop and understanding some of the changes and faces that now populate his old neighborhood. D is a wonderful character for many reasons. He is African American but not stereotypical and yet true to his upbringing in the Tilden projects. He is HIV positive and this is important to the way he lives his life but he handles it in a productive and positive (no pun intended) way. He is old school and new school at the same time.

The book is populated with great characters of all ages and the voices are real – you would be able to hear these voices on the street and feel like they are real people. I am a music buff and the background information on the R&B recordings he is chasing are just fascinating. I never tired of the story and was always anxious to get back and read it. Why are books like these so hard to find displayed at the big book stores? Give new, young African American writers a platform without having to be an Oprah recommendation please.

My one criticism is not with the author but needs to be addressed by all publishers. Too often I am coming across misspelled words or contextually incorrect edits obviously being made by computers. It is high time that publishing houses fork out the money and hire proof readers to go over computer edits. A machine cannot do what a human can. While I understand maximizing profits, there is a cost here. Poorly written work is distracting to the reader and makes really good writers look bad. Readers continue to pay more for books and should be rewarded with high quality, while writers should be rewarded with the best representation of their work that they pour blood, sweat and tears into. Authors – do not settle for less! Nelson George, I am a new fan!

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