by Terri Schlichenmeyer
For New Pittsburgh Courier
It should have been a dream job.
You’d wanted to work at that business since forever. You thought about it for years, in fact, imagining what it would be like. It was the exact job you said you wanted when adults asked you what you wanted to do when you grew up.
But when you landed the position (finally!), you were astounded. Like so many things in life, anticipation was better than reality and the job stunk.
It happens, and in the new book, “South by Southeast” by Blair Underwood, Tananarive Due, and Steven Barnes, it happened where there should’ve been sun and fun.
Tennyson “Ten” Hardwick gave up on Hollywood stardom long ago.
He still did minor roles, sure. But his fame, it seemed, would forever be linked to detective work he did as a sideline and to escort work he did before he gave up The Life. But film? No fame there.
So when Gustavo Escobar offered Ten the role-of-a-lifetime in a new horror movie, Ten leapt at the chance, even bringing his entire family to Miami. It would be a good thing: a new city would give his ailing father a change of scenery, and Chela, Ten’s ward, could check out the beaches.
And it might have been a great time for everybody—had the job turned out better.
There was a dark side to Escobar, and Ten had seen it. Escobar was a jerk, asking for extra takes, long hours, things that Ten wasn’t willing to do. Ten wasn’t sure he wanted stardom that much. He quit at least once, much to the horror of his agent.
Yes, the part should’ve been a dream job—but it wasn’t. And then things turned worse.
An old friend of Chela’s from back in the day showed up on the set, and Chela’s former life was no longer an off-limits topic between her and Ten. He was worried, and tried to send her home to stay with his girlfriend-not-girlfriend. Chela was offended that he didn’t trust her.
But when the old friend’s body washed up in the beach, Ten knew he couldn’t trust anyone. And that included a certain director with a temper, a cruel streak, and a past that was drowning in suspicion…
Oh, man, I really have to stop reading Tennyson Hardwick novels before bed.
Authors Blair Underwood, Tananarive Due, and Steven Barnes pack everything you ever wanted in a noir thriller between two pages that can barely hold it all. As usual, the authors’ main character, Tennyson Hardwick, is smooth, responsible, and suave but this time, we’re given much more of the people who surround him: their troubles, and their pasts. That adds up to a fast-paced, chilling, keep-you-up-all-night package you shouldn’t wait to open.
(“Blair Underwood Presents South by Southeast” by Blair Underwood, Tananarive Due, and Steven Barnes, c.2012, Atria, $15/$17 Canada, 373 pages.)