Thursday, November 20, 2008

Review: Blackbird, Farewell by Robert Greer & a Giveaway


First Sentence: The $4 million Nike athletic-shoe contract in Shandell Bird’s shirt pocket wasn’t about to solve his problem—couldn’t even put a dent in it—neither would the $3.2 million he expected to start drawing in October, once the NBA season started.


Blackbird, Farewell by Robert Greer
Frog Books, 2008 (ARE)
Crime Fiction (MYS); 362 pgs


Blackbird, Farewell is the first mystery by Robert Greer I have had the chance to read and it likely will not be my last. This novel is the latest in the CJ Floyd series, although, in what I assume is a departure from the series, the author focuses on a different protagonist: a young man about to head off to medical school. CJ Floyd is enjoying his honeymoon in Hawaii when his godson's best friend is murdered. Damion Madrid learns more about his friend, Shandell Bird, after death than he ever knew while he was alive.

Known as Blackbird and Blood on the court, Shandell and Damion had been among the best players on their college basketball team. Shandell had a career in the NBA ahead of him and a contract with a major shoe company. Life could not have been better for the young man. Or so it seemed. Shandell and an investigative journalist are gunned down one night on a Glendale basketball court, and the police have very few leads. Damion is determined to find out what he can about his friend's death. He is confident he can find the answers before the police do. He enlists the help of his godfather's business partner, Flora Jean Benson, a bounty hunter and former military intelligence officer. Knowing Damion is better off with her help and knowing he will go it alone without her, Flora Jean agrees to help.

The more questions that Damion asks, the darker the secrets he uncovers and the more he comes to realize that people aren't always what they seem. Could his best friend really have been involved with drug dealing and point shaving? If he was guilty of all of these things, why did he go down that road? What other secrets could his friend have been hiding from him all this time? The more Damion learns, the more danger he is in. People in high places have taken notice.

Author Robert Greer takes readers into the underbelly of the pro-athletic world and introduces readers to a cast of interesting characters, some of whom have obvious history in previous books. While the bad guys (and gals) are obvious, exactly who did what and when is not always so clear. The story unfolds bit by bit as the novel progresses, starting off slow and picking up speed with each turn of the page. There is a lot going on inside the pages of the novel and there were a couple of occasions when I thought it might be a little too much.

Although the story is told in third person and jumps from one character’s perspective to another, it is Damion’s story that takes center stage. His loyalty to his friend is endearing. There is a young man’s overconfidence about him mixed in with an innocence that reminds the reader just how vulnerable and unaware he is. Shandell’s own story is tragic in its own way. I didn’t think much of him in the beginning, but I could better sympathize with him by the end.

I was most impressed with the women in the novel, all of them strong in their own ways. Aretha Bird, Shandell’s mother, had suffered through a difficult marriage and raised her son mostly on her own. Flora Jean Benson is a tough cookie who obviously is used to getting what she’s after. Niki, Damion’s girlfriend knows how to take care of herself just fine, and Damion’s mother worked hard to earn her law degree and make a name for herself.

Blackbird, Farewell is an entertaining mystery. Although billed as a CJ Floyd mystery, CJ himself makes only a minor appearance. The author has certainly whet my appetite in finding out more CJ and his friends.

Rating: * (Good)


Be sure and check out the author's website. If you would like to follow Robert Greer's book tour in progress, visit the Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tours blog.


Thank you to Dorothy of Pump Up Your Book Promotion and the author, Robert Greer, for the opportunity to participate in this book tour.


Other Blog Reviews of this book:
Michele - One "L"

I will be giving away a new hardbound copy of Blackbird, Farewell to one lucky commenter! Leave a comment along with your e-mail address if you are interested in winning this book. Drawing is open internationally. Deadline to enter is December 1st at 11:59 p.m. PST.

Added 12/06/2008: Recent events in my life caused me to overlook naming the winner in this contest until now. I apologize for keeping you all waiting so long. The lucky winner of Blackbird, Farewell is ChristyJan! Congratulations, ChristyJan. I'll be sending you an e-mail to request your address.

12 comments:

  1. Hi Wendy, I like strong women characters and what you've said in the last paragraph really interest me: how the different women strive to make a difference in their lives. Great review!

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  2. I have read another review of this book someplace else. Sounds good. Please enter me.

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  3. Hey Wendy!

    I'm not entering today's contest but I wanted to let you know that my book arrived from the last contest I won. Thank you!

    Nikki

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  4. The combination of strong women and mystery really apeals to me - I hope I get to win this book!
    Debi S. in South Joisey

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  5. Sounds like a great mystery ~ please enter me.

    hawkes(at)citlink.net

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  6. This book looks great. I can always find good mysteries on your blog. Please enter me in the giveaway.
    shaneen at easilink dot com

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  7. Don't add me, but . . . I was about to say, "Mysteries aren't my thing," and then I realized I'm reading one and enjoying it. LOL Well, they're mostly not my thing. I like mine funny or very different. I love your reviews, though, regardless. :)

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  8. Nancy - I am glad you enjoy my reviews even if the books themselves might not be your cup of tea. :-)

    Framed - You're entered! :-)

    ChristyJan - I've added your name in!

    SnjDebdeb - It's a good combination! I've entered you into the contest. :-)

    Nikki - Oh, I'm so glad! And you're very welcome. I hope you enjoy it!

    Violet - I've got your name in for the drawing. :-)

    Alice - Thank you! Strong women certainly catch my attention in a book. :-) Thanks for entering!

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  9. Yes, I would like to read this book, your write up about the characters spiked my interest! Yeah!
    Thanks so much
    Darby
    darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

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