South by Southeast
Blair Underwood, Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes
Atria, Sep 18 2012, $15.00
In Los Angeles, highly regarded director Gustavo Escobar hires actor Tennyson Hardwick to play the key role of the first victim in Freaknik, a zombie horror movie. Ten, his ailing dad and his eighteen year old not quite adopted daughter Chela are in South Beach for the film. Left back in Southern California is his ex-April.
During the shoot, Chela’s street friend Maria arrives at the set. They go out together clubbing in Miami at the Phoenix like they did a few years ago before Ten took the former off the street. Not long afterward, Maria’s murdered corpse is found with the police believing she was the latest victim of a serial killer stalking hookers in South Florida. Ten investigates the death and soon believes he knows the identity of the killer. However, the culprit commits suicide so the case is closed except someone murders a person Ten cares about and threatens the two females he loves.
The latest Tennyson Hardwick mystery (see from Cape Town With Love, In The Heat of the Night and Casanegra) is an exciting street thriller though between his reconciliation with his dad and his love for April and Chela the hero has lost some of his hard-boiled noir edge. For instance he is like every caring parent setting rules as he worries about his teenage daughter clubbing. His adversary is a diabolical brilliant serial killer who places Ten in what the military calls a Morton’s fork selection between two horrible choices each leading to death. Readers will appreciate Ten’s dilemma as death stalks him and his loved ones.