Saturday, January 31, 2015

Rhode Island Red {Nanette Hayes Mysteries #1), by Charlotte Carter

Open Road Integrated Media, ISBN 9781497691827,  January 2015 (original publication 1997)

Nanette Hayes is playing her saxophone on a New York City street, and not taking in a lot of money, when a smart-mouthed young man starts off by insulting her playing, and then moves on to declaring his (platonic) love for her. He says his name is Sig, and it turns out he's looking for a place to crash for the night. Against her better judgment Nan agrees to let him stay the night in her apartment.

She does make him sleep on the couch.

In the very early morning, she wakes up to a very cold apartment.

Her door is open, and Sig is on the living room floor, stabbed to death with an ice pick. And it turns out he's a cop named Charlie Conlin, who has been working undercover investigating a criminal scheme targeting street musicians. That's all bad enough, but after the cops and the body are gone, Nan pulls out her saxophone, and finds that Sig/Charlie had stuffed $60,000 into it before he died.

She has no idea how complicated her life is about to get.

This is a nicely intricate mystery, with bonuses if you're a lover of jazz. Her on-again/off-again boyfriend Walt, Sig's blind street musician girlfriend and her guide dog, a charming, older Greek fan of American jazz, and a broken-down old trumpeter called Wild Bill are all involved in the mystery of a vanished saxophone once owned by Charlie Parker. They're sometimes working together, sometimes at cross-purposes, and they don't always know who is double-crossing them. The same goes for Nanette; she has no idea who is telling her the truth and who is lying or even setting her up.

I was totally absorbed and read this in a day.

Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.