Cover image for Details at ten
Details at ten
Garland, Ardella, 1962-
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Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster, [2000]

Physical Description:
207 pages ; 25 cm
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Ardella Garland, nom de plume of bestselling novelist Yolanda Joe, introduces a new mystery series starring one of the sassiest, smartest, and most compelling characters ever to solve a crime. She is reporter Georgia Barnett, who is disturbed when someone she interviews disappears after witnessing a drive-by shooting.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

African-American TV journalist Georgia Barnett makes her debut in a mystery chiefly notable for its heroine's sassy sense of humor. At the scene of a South Side Chicago gang killing, Georgia interviews on camera an important eyewitness, a little black girl named Butter. After Butter is kidnapped, Georgia's guilt drives her to seek the girl's abductors. Helping and hindering in this hunt are a local preacher, Georgia's superiors at the television station and handsome cop Doug Eckart, with whom she quickly falls into a predictable, innuendo-laced give and take. The author (Falling Leaves of Ivy; Bebe's by Golly Wow, etc.) is less adept at plotting a mystery than she is at presenting an overly knowing black romantic fiction reminiscent of Terry McMillan. Which of the two rival gangs, the Rock Disciples or the Gangster Bandits, actually seized Butter is in truth pretty much anyone's guess, while the constant fibbing to which the career-addicted Doug and Georgia subject each other prior to the florid scenes of passion gets tiresome fast. The extreme youth of the killers and victims adds some poignancy, as do the drugs, poverty and helplessness with which they constantly battle. Somewhere inside this coy work there's a serious message struggling to get out. Agent, Victoria Sanders. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Inveterate Chicago TV reporter Georgia Barnett prides herself on scooping other local stations. A gang-related double murder and a retaliatory drive-by shooting in her own old neighborhood grab her time and attention, especially after a gang snatches a six-year-old eyewitness she interviewed on TV. Driven by guilt but thriving on the job-related stress, Georgia competes with a hunky police detective to find the girl. An attitudinal, upbeat black heroine and fast-moving prose make this a keeper despite a flippant narrative edge that shows every now and again. A new series by the author also known as Yolanda Joe. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One My day seemed to be winding down innocently enough -- "Georgia, may I see you for a minute?"   -- but it didn't play out that way. I stepped into my boss's office. Garbage was everywhere. Crushed tin cans. Stacks of old newspapers. A broken stress toy on the floor. Stress test flunked, okay. I thought of Junk Man, the urban prospector who used to cruise my old neighborhood with a grocery cart. Junk Man loved to sift through garbage. This office would be his treasure island. "Clear a space somewhere," said my boss, Halo Bingington. "Please have a seat." Bing's personality is half George Foreman and half Mike Tyson. That's cool for two rock 'em, sock 'em boxers but not cool for one newsroom boss. So I knew that Bing's nice-nice stuff could turn ugly quick and in a hurry. When your boss calls you into his office, you get that feeling. Like after the match ignites the fuse in a Mission Impossible rerun, I saw scenes flashing before my eyes. They were scenes from my last exclusive. It was late night and hotter outside than a hole-in-the-wall barbeque joint. The police cars were lined up in front of a frame house. I was on the journalistic down low. Me and my one-man crew crouched in the bushes, waiting for the arrests. Two Bandits were inside the house. Sammy Sosa could throw a baseball from the front porch and it would probably land near the pitcher's mound in nearby Fellows Park. That's where the bodies had been found, riddled with bullets. The two suspects were grabbed out of bed, but, true to thug life, they seemed unfazed by the police. Officers yanked them outside by the necks, pajama bottoms sagging, hands cuffed behind their backs with silver bracelets that jingled. It was the only sound in the night. Except cries. One of the suspects' mothers leaned over the porch railing sobbing as she grabbed for her son, a man who had been out of reach for quite some time. I'd written the story with feelings and facts. I'd fronted it live from the scene. But now something was wrong. The competition couldn't possibly have scooped me on some new development, could they? Did the suspects make bond and I didn't know it? Did the cops find the murder weapon and I missed it? I watched my boss, Bing, as he made a quick call. He sat wide-legged, khaki pants high above his bare ankles. Scuffy, comfortable shoes fit loosely on his feet as he bounced his right leg up and down. Small freckled hands drummed on the desk, then Bing stopped and used his left hand to free several strands of dirty blond hair matted against the back of his neck by sweat. Bing finished his call and focused directly on me. In direct contrast to Bing's warm and rich voice, suddenly his eyes turned cold with displeasure. Bing had started out as a commercial announcer, moved to radio news, then to TV. But he paid the cost to be the boss. Three decades in this business had lost Bing some of his hair, his waistline, his first and second wives, but not his drive to be number one. "Georgia, your on-camera look stunk. You didn't fix your makeup and your hair was out of place! Channel 14's reporter looked flawless." I thought of the Generation X babe with Breck hair and poor writing skills. "But, Bing, the competition didn't have the exclusive video of the arrests. They didn't have the kid's mother either. I was hustling like a popcorn vendor at the circus! I was worried about facts, not face." "Georgia, this is TV news. The viewers care about how you look. You kicked tail on the story but you didn't polish it off. Ratings are about how our reporters look just as much as they are about our news coverage." Bing continued to bawl me out. I listened halfheartedly, then shrugged before heading back out into the newsroom. "Georgia, Georgia on my mind!" Nancy Haverstein yelled out at me. She's the producer for the ten o'clock news. "Yeah, Nancy." I smiled. She was actually one of the reasonable ones at my tripped-out television station, WJIV Channel 8 in Chicago. I've been a TV general assignment reporter in four other markets, all in Ohio, before finally getting a break. Then I was able to get-down-boogie-oogie-oogie back home to Chi-town. My coworkers seem to think that "Georgia, Georgia" is an original joke. The best joke occurred when my twin sister and I were born. At first my mother named me Georgia and my sister Georgina. But my grandmother, who in her heyday did musical comedy on the chitlin circuit, went to find the hospital nurse. Grandma told her to change Georgina's name to Peaches. Mama threw a fit. Grandma said then, and still says now, that Mama is always raising saying over nothing. Mama changed my sister's name back to Georgina but as far as my family was concerned it was far too late. You know how black folks hate to let go of a nickname. Poor Georgina's nickname was stuck to her like paint on a brush. I have to admit, though, I loved going to Savannah and hearing my grandmother call us in from playing: "Georgia, Peaches! Where are my sweet Georgia, Peaches?!" I walked over to Nancy. She's good people -- kind, even-tempered, considerate, and gently honest. Nancy's fronting on fifty but not looking nearly that age. She has a naturally slender build and bright, taut skin; raven black hair falls three inches below the big hoop earrings she loves to wear. Nancy's eyes are the singed brown color of cigar smoke. She blinks them constantly, too. It's a nervous habit she shoplifted after working in various television newsrooms across the country. Nancy pointed to the show rundown, which lists the stories included in the newscast. "Take a look, Georgia. I don't have a strong lead. What about a hot-weather story -- can you write something cute?" "Ughh!" I groaned. Don't go there! I would have to stand outside somewhere on Michigan Avenue or along the lakefront and talk about how hot it was -- and my hair was surely going to go berserk! Heat and humidity on a black woman's hair? Goodness. "Georgia, what do you think about doing a weather crawl?" "A weather crawl? Girl, do a hair advisory! Nancy, if you send me outside to do a heat story in this weather, my hair is going to look like I'm a backup singer with Sly and the Family Stone. And you know Bing wears two hats -- newsroom boss and chief of the cosmetic police. Dude wants glamour. Bing doesn't care if it's humid or windy or wet. He wants face and hair from his female reporters. But Bing doesn't say a word to the guys! They can look any kind of way. Give me a pass, huh, Nancy?" Before she could answer, an intern yelled, "Got a breaker! Caller says there's been a drive-by shooting. Five people shot." "New lead!" Nancy announced to the newsroom. "Hit it, Georgia!" I hustled to get started on the breaking story. But I got delayed at the front door, waiting for one of our crew trucks to pick me up. I flipped a glance up to the sky, then sighed. The raindrops were steamed by the sun until they became a mist that clung to everyone who stepped out into The Sauna, a Chicago synonym for midday in August. I put on my thinking brim as I waited for my crew. A drive-by at Fiftieth and Hedge. It was in Englewood, my old neighborhood. A curious feeling came over me -- a double-dip emotion of warmth and apprehension. It's hard covering stories in Englewood. The neighborhood has changed so much from the way it was when I was a little kid. I had already covered the double murder in Fellows Park last week, a park where my twin and I used to play double Dutch and where we sang our first "concert" under the monkey bars, come one come all, for a nickel apiece. Once again I tried to give myself the proper distance for peace of mind to do my job. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught sight of a Channel 8 truck turning the corner. When I saw who the cameraman was, my heart went yeah! and help me, Lord! at the same time. It was Zeke Rouster. Zeke shoots great pictures but he drives like Al Unser on crack. Zeke has long bony legs, a jelly stomach, pale green eyes, and stone white hair. He holds the record among cameramen for the most moving violations. It's not a Channel 8 record, it's the record for the entire city. And Zeke has no shame in his game about it either. A country boy raised outside of Birmingham, Zeke says his hot-rod days began at twelve years old when he jumped into a beat-up flatbed truck one day and set out driving. His goal was to travel as far as he could, as fast as he could, without knocking down anything that breathed. Zeke is an underachiever; he hasn't killed anything yet and his goal hasn't changed in thirty years. "Rock and roll!" Zeke said, burning rubber when he hit the brakes and opened the door with one fly-guy motion. As the truck sped toward the crime scene, so did my thoughts and my expectations. Doesn't everyone have some recurring experience that makes them uneasy? Butterflies before making a speech? An anxious anticipation of something? I was nervous as a turkey in November as I fumbled with the metal fringes of my pad. It's not as if I'm a cub reporter. I've been to violent crime scenes a gazillion times. Sometimes the body is still there. Sometimes there is blood. Sometimes the victim is still alive, grappling with his spirit like a child trying to steer a runaway bike. I'm called upon to make sense out of it for more than 300,000 viewers. Isn't that a big dog of a responsibility, being the eyes, ears, and conscience of others? How can I ever take it lightly? How can I ever cruise through work? Each day is mentally tough, but I love it. How great is it to be able to tell a story that people want to know about? But the violent news always works my nerves in the beginning. Mentally I got prepared to do my best and deal with the violence by silently saying the Twenty-third Psalm. That got me focused for whatever lay ahead of me on this story. It turned out to be something to pray about and nothing to play with. Copyright © 2000 Yolanda Joe. All rights reserved.