Cover image for Blue lightning
Blue lightning
Harvey, John, 1938-
Publication Information:
London : Slow Dancer Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
399 pages ; 20 cm
A flower is a lovesome thing / Charlotte Carter -- John Lennon in the American South / Rosanne Cash -- Walking blues / Liza Cody -- Nocturne / Jeffery Deaver -- No / Stella Duffy -- Aja / Kirsty Gunn -- Cool blues / John Harvey -- Backing / Michael Z. Lewin -- Grace notes / Bill Moody -- Blue lightening / Walter Mosley -- Stone cold killah / Gary Phillips -- Glimmer / Ian Rankin -- Memory lane / Peter Robinson -- Vocalities / James Sallis -- Too mean to die / Julie Smith -- Heartache tonight / Neville Smith -- Life's little mysteries / Brian Thompson -- Supposed to be a funeral / John L. Williams.
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PR1309.S5 B58 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Acclaimed mystery writer and jazz aficionado John Harvey asked some of his British and American friends in the crime/mystery world if they'd like to contribute to a collection of stories about music. Many did, including some new friends in music, and the result is Blue Lightning. Here are eighteen brand new stories inspired by music, all kinds of music -- from rock-bottom blues through jazz and country to gansta rap and Japanese avant-garde -- written by a stellar cast of characters.

Walter Mosley's contribution is the collection's title story, a new Socrates Fortlow piece (introduced in Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned), a heart-breaking snatch of the blues through a few days in the life of this tough, brooding ex-con. Singer Roseanne Cash imagines a Memphis meeting between her father, Johnny Cash, his legendary guitarist Luther Perkins, and John Lennon. From Gary Phillips there's an authentic tale from the frontline of the rap wars, inspired by the real-life killings of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. Mozart features in pieces by Jeffrey Deaver and James Sallis, the Rolling Stones at Altamont is covered in Ian Rankin's contribution (which, Rankin tells us, "should be read while listening to the opening track of the Stones' Beggars Banquet), Etta James shows up in stories by Michael Z. Lewin and Liza Cody, and editor Harvey provides a new Charlie Resnick piece in which an addiction to Duke Ellington's jazz is a clue to solving the mystery in the story. Julie Smith's offering is a haunting meditation on motherhood by a daughter who has become a musician and those by Charlotte Carter and Bill Moody deal with those unsung heroes of the recording studio, the back-up singers.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

With his Charlie Resnick series retired after 10 superb installments, the multitalented Harvey--novelist, poet, editor, publisher--offers a fine anthology of stories on musical themes from his own Slow Dancer Press in London. The collection brings together the work of such English and American crime writers as Walter Mosley, James Sallis, Ian Rankin, and Peter Robinson. Some of the group are known for their music-themed fiction (Bill Moody, Mosley, Charlotte Carter), but all prove adept at incorporating musicians and musings on music (from jazz and blues through rock and rap) into their stories, some crime-based, others not. Mosley's contribution, a new Socrates Fortlow tale, has perhaps the least to do with music but is nevertheless one of the strongest pieces. Top prize, however, belongs to Harvey himself, whose Charlie Resnick story (about a con man who uses names of obscure Ellington band members as aliases) is both a treat for jazz fans and a case study of how to compress a procedural plot into fewer than 20 pages. A superior theme anthology. --Bill Ott

Publisher's Weekly Review

Author of numerous novels and short stories featuring detective Charlie Resnick, Harvey has gathered in this quirky anthology tales by 18 other writers mostly known for their crime fiction. Thematically joined by their characters' musical passions, the stories range from a fictional meeting in Memphis between Johnny Cash and John Lennon, written by Cash's daughter Roseanne, to Walter Mosley's title story starring Socrates Fortlow, the philosophical ex-convict introduced in Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned. Harvey himself contributes "Cool Blues," in which Resnick is on the trail of a jazz-obsessed thief. The range of musical genres covered is as diverse as the authors: Japanese avant-garde (Stella Duffy's "No"), pop/rock (Kirsty Gunn's "Aja"; Ian Rankin's "Glimmer"), country (Julie Smith's "Too Mean to Die") and blues and jazz (many stories). While there are elements of mystery and suspense in many of the pieces, literate-minded music lovers are the book's intended readers, and they will likely devour the collection whole and identify with Tony Vincenzo, the patrol officer protagonist in Jeffery Deaver's "Nocturne," whose music library includes Tony Bennett, Django Reinhardt, Fats Waller, Diana Ross and Squirrel Nut Zippers. Closing with brief biographies of the contributors, including comments on their listening habits, this anthology speaks strongly for the power of songs and styles to evoke events and feelings of the past and to transport listeners to important moments of their lives. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

British mystery writer Harvey presents a mixed bag of short stories with dual themes: mystery and pop music. The centerpiece is a new Socrates Fortlow story from Walter Mosley. Other "known" writersÄLiza Cody, Julie Smith, and Harvey himselfÄalso weigh in. One of the best selections is a procedural from Jeffery Deaver about a good cop and a stolen Stradivarius, one of the not-best is Ian Rankin's odd second-person effort about a playwright and the Rolling Stones. Some of the gems are from the lesser-knowns: Roseanne Cash's sweet fiction about a John Lennon trip to Memphis, where he hangs out with her father; Michael Z. Lewin's tale of an ego-fueled artiste and a female backup group for a record session; John L. Williams's sardonic story of a dead bluesman and an inept White Panther party in Cardiff in the 1970s. Except for shared topics, the stories are independent. Essential it's not (thump thump)/ When all's said and done (thump thump)/ But for mystery/ pop hounds (thump thump)/ It's a whole lot of fun.ÄRobert E. Brown, Onondaga Cty. P.L., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.