Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Atria (June 19, 2007)
Reviewed by: Linda Watkins
From the moment Casanegra crossed my palms, I was curious. Not only for the content of the story within, but for the story of the trio of authors that penned it. I didn't see the connection. Blair Underwood? Tananarive Due? Steven Barnes? How was this going to come together? To review such a collaboration seemed overwhelming. Was it possible for three strong voices to be heard, yet not collide? Much to my surprise . . . it was a perfect fit.
Set in LA, Casanegra is all action. From going to Roscoe's Chicken N’ Waffles on Gower and Sunset , making auditions, looking for work, fleeing the past, and going to the hood to fight for your life, Underwood/Due/Barnes gives us one heck of a ride. A little overly detailed at times, but not enough to be annoying the reader will find themselves hooked into the world of Hollywood and all it's trappings.
Like most mysteries there is murder in Casanegra, lots of it, though you never get into it until page twenty-seven. So it is a slow build. The beginning is all about Tennyson Hardwick (what a dreamy name) the main character. Tennyson is a ex-gigolo, aspiring actor/bodyguard/detective that hates lines, funerals and getting hit in the face, among other things. He loves sensuality, women and the feel of skin on his nakedness. This alone leads to some erotic scenes that will curl your toes and teach you a thing or two. April, a reporter that teams up with Tennyson isn't as complex, could have been a bit more fleshed out, but her existence worked nonetheless. She loved her some Tennyson. As did Chela, a young escort that falls into his hands by way of obligation and she is hilarious, like must teenagers are. Tennyson's father, a retired cop is interesting in his own right. Having suffered a stroke and confined to bed, he shows the strength and courage it takes to survive life in a nursing home and the pain one must endure when your child is in trouble. These are but a few of the cleverly crafted characters in Casanegra. There are many more and they were all very realistic, but I won’t spoil it for you by telling about them. Just get the book and tell me what you think
The expertise of these three unlikely authors shone brilliantly in Casanegra. I saw a lot of Blair Underwood in the writing and I felt Tananarive and Stevens' creativity twisting and turning throughout the whole story. The three voices flowed together seamlessly, for the most part. There were a few spots that disappointed me, but they were so trivial I won’t even clutter your mind. I will tell you that Casanegra is a explosive read. Erotic, funny, and a great glimpse of life in Hollywood . . . if you dare to explore the dark side.
I had a blast reading Casanegra and can't wait for the next addition to the series which I am sure will be one wild adventure for myself and Tennyson Hardwick. Make it yours too!