A Look At Nelson George’s D Hunter Series

When I read Nelson George’s The Plot Against Hip-Hop a few years back, I got hooked on his security specialist D Hunter. Brooklyn born, HIV positive, dressed in black, with the voice of a street poet, D protects the rich, famous, and usually African American in tight hard boiled stories that look at where art, culture, commerce, and politics meet. I was happy to see that not only was Akashic releasing a new D Hunter novel, The Lost Treasures of R&B, they are reprinting the hard to-to-get first book, The Accidental Hunter.

In The Accidental Hunter, D is trying to expand his business with an office in Manhattan, winning a bid from The Source Awards’ return to New York. He is also hired by Ivy Greenwich, a legendary and questionable manager, for two jobs. One is to deliver the ransom and bring back kidnapped R&B genius, Night, a close friend of D’s. The other job is to protect a teen sensation while she stays in New York to change her image, Christina Aguilera-style. Both jobs become connected to an urban biker club and the secrets and sins of those for whom D is working.

The book gives us a look a night life culture; both affluent and marginalized. We move through a big party where sports and music personalities mix with thugs, S&M practitioners, yuppies, high end strippers, and drug dealers. George portrays it as a colorful addictive world with a price to pay. As one who has traveled down the road tells D, “…watch this vampire shit. Do it too long and you’ll be sucking your own blood.”

D appears to have taken that advice in The Lost Treasures Of R&B. Downsizing his company and moving back to Brooklyn after the shift in the music industry, he takes on more the role of a protector of nightlife, rather than a member.  Still, he finds himself more in trouble than ever. When a rapper tries to buy guns at an underground fight club, D ends up in the middle of a shootout. While dealing with the fall out from that, he is hired to protect Night for a comeback engagement in London and locate a rare recording of stars from Motown and Stax jamming together. George creates the greatest McGuffin since The Maltese Falcon.

In many ways The Lost Treasures of R&B is a thematic culmination of the previous two books. The series shows how subculture defines the art of our country, how it’s appropriated, and asks who should own it, it can be owned. Both The Accidental Hunter and The Lost Treasures of R&B have rich white girls wanting to be soul divas. They aren’t treated seriously, until they show their knowledge and chops. The Lost Treasures of R&B poses one of the defining musical questions of our time: should one culture be able to curate and own an art form if they are not the one to create it? George gives us no easy answers, but  a dose of believable hope to the questions he raises.

D Hunter is a series character worth following. His voice gets richer and more nuanced and his adventures raise deeper discussions with each book, existing in a culture that has become more integrated into the mainstream, yet is increasingly defined by delineation. Both D and his world have interesting places to go.

You can find copies of The Lost Treasures of R&B and The Plot Against Hip Hop on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. The Accidental Hunter is available for special order via bookpeople.com.

Three Picks for February

This February brings us bold releases from longstanding favorites and more recent recipients of our fandom. As the unseasonably warm winter persists, give up on waiting for that snowy day and take one of these to the park for a sunny afternoon. 

lost treasures of r&bThe Lost Treasures Of R&B by Nelson George

I loved George’s last novel featuring music scene bodyguard Hunter D, The Plot Against Hip-Hop. In this latest, D has to deal with the fallout when a client goes after someone with guns they bought on Hunter’s watch. He must also bodyguard a genius soul singer out for a comeback, and track down a rare single that has the best of Stax and Motown performing on it. In less that two hundred pages, Nelson George delivers an entertaining and hard-boiled look at the music scene, and raises the question of proprietary rights and black culture. The Lost Treasures of R&B hits the shelves Tuesday, February 3. Pre-order now 

Hush, Hush 
by Laura Lippman

Tess Monoghan is back! Now a mother, the Baltimore private eye gets a case involving parenting, the insanity defense, and reality television. Along with Crowe, her boyfriend, she has a new operative, Sandy Sanchez, the protagonist in Lippman’s last novel, After I’m Gone. Laura Lippman is one of the best storytellers in the genre and Tess one of the most fully realized detectives.Hush, Hush comes out Tuesday, February 24. Pre-order now. 

canaryCanary by Duane Swierczynski

Swierczynski delivers a book both heartfelt and hard-boiled. A Philly college girl gets busted when she unknowingly drives a boy she likes to a drug pick-up. When an ambitious narcotics detective forces her to be an informant, we watch her deal with family, cops, and criminals in ways humorous, human, and heart-stopping in this engaging thriller that is both suburban and streetwise. Canary will be released Tuesday, February 24. Pre-order now.