Thursday, August 16, 2018

Murder in Germantown! Street Lit at Its Finest - By Raheim Brooks

If you are not familiar with Street/Urban Fiction, and don't want to learn, in
my opinion you should return a book and not give a review... I found Brooks' book one of the best I've read in the genre and is well worth your consideration! If you want to begin learning about Ebonics, I recommend The Magic Pencil by Karen E. Dabney. In my opinion, it is a must-read for every child living in America...and I also recommended it on Amazon to those who gave this book a low rating... Of course, this is just my personal well as one who wants to provide a professional review of what she reads... You decide... Note that one of the sentences pointed out on Amazon was one that I simply loved... To me, it flows with rhythm, specific relevant adjectives, and a play on police issues of today... dare I say with a little sarcasm to match... Anyway...

He was never without the Burberry trench, sneer, ethics stamped on his yellowish forehead, or adroit police impracticalities glued to his aura. He had deep eyes that were slanted. Not Asian slanted, but African American slanted. In the Germantown neighborhood where he had grown up, he had been given the street moniker, China.

Sometimes, my criminals are likable, but oftentimes they’re not. The current one I hated, but I represented him (and his money) without prejudice. His name, Mark Artis. 
I was interested in Artis’ trial verdict. More than the norm. He was an alleged con man and believed to be a serious threat to the Department of Commerce. I doubted that, and my investigators found evidence to prove me correct. But hey, I was bound by attorney-client privilege so I kept those details quiet. I credit my investigators because I actually did more than try one case per year. I did not suffer from the boredom of the unfolding discoveries of one case for months at a time.
I am busy on the Philadelphia criminal judicial circuit, and on the tip of every criminal’s tongue in the Federal Detention Center (FDC) in Philadelphia and in the Philadelphia Prison Systems. It was not the same as being chased down by paparazzi, but.... I could not report to every crime scene, interview every witness, or verify every alibi for all of the clients. I multi-task. So big ups to my detectives. 
The police have theirs and I have mine. I just defended Artis in a trial on the 9th floor of the United States Courthouse at 601 Market Street. The jury deliberated for two days and requested the transcripts of the government’s key witness: Tanya “Jewel” Stalin (Russian, but no relation to the communist). Too bad the jury could not have her transcripts, and had to rely on their memories. I managed to get them the police reports and notes to compare to her testimony, though. I imagined they believe her to be a vicious liar—she was—and I had brought out her lies. Called her a terrorist, too. Yes, I was way out of line, but hey, an acquittal was acquired by any means necessary.
The jury had a verdict, and I had to wait for them to deliver it. At 9:30, Artis had found me perched at the defense table. I had known I would be in the courtroom holding my breath, so I had downloaded the sports news on Carmelo Anthony returning from his famous 15-day suspension. He would join the recently-acquired Allen Iverson with the Denver Nuggets. 
I did not have to see Artis approaching me. The heels of his loafers crashed the hardwood and his handcuffs echoed. The unarmed Marshal sat him next to me.
“It does not take a rocket scientist to find me not guilty of all charges.” He proclaimed. “No prints or DNA of mine was found at the scene. Their whole case hinged on the testimony of a sleazy coke whore who would have sold her mother out. The jury is taking long.  Does that mean anything?”
“What do you mean?” I asked with a subtle hint of sardonicism.  What happened to a good morning pleasantry? This was one of the reasons I knew he had not played the federal agents. He had no class. Or grace. Mark, or whatever his real name was, had proven himself to be a pompous, self-centered bastard. I thought I needed my black ass fanned and fed grapes like royalty considering no Philadelphia tri-state area barrister wanted to touch him. 
I defended him. Offered my Harvard Law bookishness and sound experience to the noodle despite my disgust at how he allegedly devastated the government designed to protect moi. “Could they be wrestling with finding me guilty?”
What the hell did he think? Yes, they were. Guilty or Not Guilty? That was the question. 
“Mark,” I replied. “The length of time they deliberate means nothing. My best conjecture says they are worried about Jewel’s testimony.” 
“Ravonne, she botched a kidnapping after she had already gotten away with five others, and when the FBI swooped in on her for the mastermind, she fingered me. We had a one-night stand and my voice....” He paused and looked into the air. “My goddamn voice sounded like the man that had hired her. She should be on trial alone!” 
“Mark, please! I know the facts.”  It was my way of screaming shut the fuck up. After the comment, I studied him for a second. I checked for a sign that he was upset. He had a cold stare, but I stared back. I won the stare down and had no fear of him firing me. 
“So, you wanna hear about my date last night?” Mark asked me as if I desired to relive some bimbo flashing him her boobs outside the FDC cell window overlooking Arch Street.  
Picayunish should’ve been his last name.  I stayed up countless nights constructing a solid defense, and he did nothing but eat commissary, watch Sports Center, see enough flesh to play with his wiener, and had the audacity to think I wanted to hear about it. 
It was not easy to restrain my position, but I reduced my reply to, “Mr. Artis.”  I stopped and breathed deeply. He hated the nom de guerre and was adamant it was not his.  I continued with, “I am on trial for my life. So, no, I do not care to relish your twenty-five cent booth experience.” 
“On trial for your life?” he asked and paused. “Since when?”  Marky-Pooh’s words dripped with disgust. Jewel’s pet name for him, not mine.
“I will be further ostracized from practicing law in Philadelphia if I lose this case. And that is my life,” I said candidly. “Even if I obtain an acquittal, I’ll be the attorney who freed a con artist and duped the US out of $200,000, not including trial expenses.” 
Refreshing.  I had upset my client and then left him at the defense table. I walked to the window and peered down at the Mark Artis Circus taking place out on Market Street. The press had wanted the verdict. I was not usually perturbed by my clients, but there was a time when sound seriousness was mandatory. Being inside of a courtroom staring stoically down the barrel of a life sentence was a qualifier.

The author, in an interview, suggested that readers would either love or hate his new main character, Ravonne Lemmelle. What I felt was admiration for the character himself. For the author, I thought he created a strong character that told things like they were, believing in nobody but the law and his own desire to win--within the limits of the law. I wouldn't say I love him, but I believe he would make a perfect series character. Lemmelle is introduced in Murder in Germantown. The fact that he chose defense law was an interesting choice, I think...but then, the author writes in first person and also shares Ravonne's inner thoughts. I found this amusing and it added a depth to the character that you don't always learn about... Here's one comment I loved: I had been accused of being a twenty-dollar word showoff. I read every night and I asked Mr. Webster to define any foreign wordage. My adjective and adverb coffer was corpulent. See what I mean.
At the same time, Brooks does indeed create a number of significant, memorable characters that creates a flavor unique to the genre as well as the story itself. His movement from one specific character to another is easily discovered since each has been drawn with a personality that sometimes shocks, but then delights as readers begin to sink into the novel...

Although Leslie Jones started out as a comedienne, I could see her playing the role of Jewel, a kidnapper who takes wives of men for ransom...

"The name is Jewel."
 "Okay, Jewel. Why am I here?" he asked getting down to business. She stood and threw him a sardonic grin.  "Here's the deal," she said and then added, "your wife Samantha has been kidnapped."
"No! No! No!" He barked.  It was more of a scream than a masculine yell. Mark began to rise from the floor and Jewel flashed a chrome Colt .45. 
Mark thought long and hard about getting up off the floor. Hopefully, Sue was recording all of that. The thug had activated the hand set when the ear piece had lost signal. "It's 10:30 in the morning, Mark Artis. I shall have 200,000 unmarked, non-sequential, American dollars in my possession by the close of the banking business day. That's traditionally three p.m. And I adore tradition, Mark." 
"I do not have that kind of cash," he warned her earnestly.
 "Then you no longer have a wife!"

I saw Dule Hill on Suits last night and thought he makes a cool-looking lawyer, but it was in his performance on Psych and his dry humor that made me think he'd play a perfect Ravonne...

I then sat back down at the defense table and put on my smart pince-nez. They made me look fussy and intellectual. 
A man passionate about my craft of criminal defense.
I was!
 I whispered to Mark to behave when the verdict was read. Reporters rushed in to fill the available seats. The judge hit the bench with the jury in tow. They looked forlorn. Shameful. My mind immediately began to ponder errors and plot appeal strategies. 
I doubted if I would represent Mark in the appeals process because I was aware that he would conjure a reason I, Ravonne Lemmelle, was ineffective. Yes, that was the number one appeals ground, and Mark would desperately want to get back to the streets if he was found guilty, so he would try to make me the fall guy. It was highly doubtful that would work out for him...

The thing was, however, that Ravonne had unexpectedly gotten Mark Artis off...And that was not the plan... Now everything changed... Mr. 357 now appeared... One of my favorite character actors, Sam Jackson, seem to fit this villain...

Mr. 357 was his moniker. Mr. 357 was one gargantuan tandem of mystery, suspense, thriller, and a dose of comedy. He believed the FBI caper was comical. A parody. The joke was on...
 ...Who cared? 
He was by no definition invincible. He did strive for intelligent crimes, though, which helped him thwart arrest. His crimes were plotted with droplets of sex, brilliant gun play, and Hollywood pandemonium. A web site—— was devoted to theorists, propaganda weavers, and conspiracy mongers regarding his identity. He was as famous as Deep Throat. He was fortunate. He was also a slick bastard who mailed bodies to the local FBI, Interpol, and Scotland Yard at his discretion.

Mr. 357's plan had been spoiled... He had gotten off and it was payback time... And Ravonne was picked to play a part in this important plot! This time he would become Skylar Juday. He looked forward to Act 1...

Ravonne's Ex, Ariel, came to stay...she needed a husband now... But Ravonne wasn't even willing to talk unless she spent time with their son... Of course, that would also present problems since he was quite happily involved in a gay relationship with Dajuan Jones, a popular singer... And he realized there would always be a place in his heart for Ariel--heartbreak!

I was not going to allow her to eat me alive, so I popped in TP3 (12-Play Part 3 by R. Kelly for all of the R&B remedial) and commenced a lonely drive to nowhere.

I had Beyonce's Irreplaceable booming as Dajuan walked in. I pretended not to see him and continued to sing the break up track. Dajuan's smooth and creamy peanut butter complexion glowed. His curly, close-cropped hair was disheveled and his bushy eyebrows rivaled Einstein's. He sat with his exposed six-pack on the love seat and hid his deep brown eyes in the palm of his hands.

It may be obvious by now that this book was character-driven for me and I enjoyed them all. I also enjoyed Brooks' writing style moving from character in character for street language, at the same time Ravonne and others went through the legalese for a legal case.  I hadn't yet mentioned the murder... The first shot was intended for somebody else, but a young boy was shot, Quincy James, by accident! It was the third recent shooting and with Quincy being a well-known popular student, there was bound to be trouble... The police needed to get on this immediately...

The book is complex, especially with Mr. 357 in his various roles, so readers will need to be alert. I had no problem since I was hooked by the first chapter and moving strong into the story when the ending was coming... Even with some things actually taking place within the story as readers are reading, still you will not have a clue as to what is coming...and...the action is just beginning. Got to say, I loved the book and hope to see Ravonne again soon! Highly recommended!


An accomplished literary executive with 8+ years leadership experience and a flair for social media marketing and public relations.
Additionally, I have worked on the following freelance projects by other authors. 
Buffalo City Czar by James Scott (Editing/Typesetting)
Dedicated to Bmore City by Nigel Ali (Editing/Typesetting)
Hoeism by English Ruler (Proofreading/Typesetting)
High Rollers by Envy Red (Proofreading/Typesetting)
'Til It Happens To You by Kristofer Clarke (Proofreading)
My debut novel, LAUGH NOW earned 2010 AAMBC BOOK OF THE YEAR, and I was honored with 2011 AAMBC AUTHOR OF THE YEAR. LAUGH NOW won Most Creative Plot at the Creative Excellence Awards.
Specialties: developmental editing, reviewing, critiquing novels, and publishing coaching.

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