Dead Man's Blues (City Blues Quartet) Paperback – 4 May 2017
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A magnificent crime novel, at least as good as his stunning 2014 debut . . . His portrait of an edgy, sexy, corrupt, dangerous, deeply racially prejudiced city, where savage violence cohabited with exciting music, is totally absorbing (Marcel Berlins The Times)
Celestin certainly doesn't short-change us on plot as his book centres on investigations into the disappearance of a celebrity heiress, the brutal murder (complete with gouged-out eyes) of a gangster and an attempt to poison a group of pro-Capone city dignitaries. But he also packs in enough details about the people, buildings, musicians and criminals of Prohibition-era Chicago to fill a fair-sized history book. He writes so vividly that at times I was convinced I could see 1920s Chicago in front of me and, even more impressively, he writes so well about music that I could virtually hear it. His first book was one of the best crime novels of its year and this sequel is even better. VERDICT: 5/5 (Daily Express)
This is the sequel to the prizewinning The Axeman's Jazz . . . Under the constant threat of bloodshed, the three stories gradually weave together into an intriguing portrait of a time and a place . . . the historical detail is captivating . . . The young Louis Armstrong turns up, and his powerful, searching, explosive jazz pulses through the pages, a soundtrack to Ida's increasingly dangerous investigation (Spectator)
Celestin's promise of two further instalments of this lively, jazz-based series can only be cause for celebration (Sunday Times)
As he did in his first novel, The Axeman's Jazz, Celestin perfectly captures the jazzy street rhythms of this proudly pugnacious city and its peculiar characters. (New York Times)
A stunning historical mystery from Ray Celestin, following on from the events of The Axeman's Jazz.See all Product description
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Jazz and crime still form the basis of the narrative, along with the racial undercurrents of the first book, which have travelled North with the main characters; Ida, Michael and Louis Armstrong.
The story is grittier than the debut and leaves you experiencing the visceral reality of a overcrowded Chicago, smelling of the stockists and industrial complexes and a sweaty city locked in a sweltering heatwave.
It's a brutal and violent study of a city in thrall to gangsters and corrupt authority, in which redemption is only found by confronting the overwhelming odds of gangland prohibition America.
Outstanding read. Bring on book 3.
The writing is so evocative of time and place, the characters, some of whom really existed, are portrayed in such a believable way that when I finished the book I felt quite bereft.
There is a missing socialite, a gruesome murder, smuggling of booze and probably drugs, Al Capone and a boxing match....and, of course, the music. There are sad stories and some happier endings.
As I mentioned before, I'm looking forward to the next Ray Celestin book.
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