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Mark Herder
Race Music
Mark Herder, author

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

Home to prostitutes, drug dealers, mobsters, and cops who subscribe to a wide range of moralities, Marecage is a low-rent district in St. Louis (“Several square blocks of rickety-brick nightclubs, taverns, flop joints, whorehouses, and warehouses, all squeezed along a crumbling cobblestone levee as if the city had swept all its filth into a pile and left it on the banks of the Mississippi for the next big flood to wash it away”). In 1963, when crooner Eddie Devine is found dead in a Marecage motel room shortly after performing to an adoring, mixed-race crowd, Tony Waluska is among the detectives assigned to investigate. As the initial bungling of the crime scene unravels, Tony’s pursuit of the truth—during his breaks from “the worlds of smack and Jack”)—puts him at odds with the city’s power brokers and the people who have an interest in sweeping Devine’s death under the rug. Tony leaves town, returning in 1981 and renewing his interest in the cold case just as the city’s first African-American mayoral candidate would prefer to see it forgotten
Plot/Idea: 7 out of 10
Originality: 6 out of 10
Prose: 6 out of 10
Character/Execution: 7 out of 10
Overall: 6.50 out of 10


Plot: Herder's novel is fast-paced, packed with twists and turns, and anything but predictable. This is a mystery that will keep readers on their toes.

Prose: Herder's prose is solid, at times even raw and dirty—and this suits the tale the author is telling.

Originality: Although Race Music doesn't stand out as a truly original tale, fans of the genre will find a lot to like here. The unspooling of the mystery will keep readers captivated until the very end.

Character Development: The characters are fully developed and believable. However, some of the connections between the players are vague or explained too late in the novel.

Date Submitted: August 03, 2018

Kirkus Reviews

In this engrossing and atmospheric tale, a racially charged killing reveals the fissures of an intricately drawn St. Louis community.