Cover image for Jamaica blue
Jamaica blue
Bruns, Don.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Minotaur, [2002]

Physical Description:
310 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


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Material Type
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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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When successful and charming rock journalist Mick Sever goes to Jamaica to see the 'next big thing', a reggae/rap band with a flare for hypnotic beats and violent lyrics, he finds that there's more than just sun, sand and music on the island of Jamaica. Danger, lies, sex and murder abound in the tropical paradise.

Led by front man Derrick Lyman, a talented and captivating performer with a radical political message, the band seems set for instant stardom. But then a young girl is savagely murdered at an afterparty celebrating the band's first American concert in Miami. Roland Johnson, the band's security guard is caught, with a knife in his hand at the crime scene. Roland is arrested and charged with murder. For all involved the case is closed - all except Mick Sever.

Sever, a relentless and charming sleuth, isn't convinced that the simple guard is the cold-blooded killer everyone thinks he is. Stories of other murders and violence that follow the band lead Sever to believe there is more to the story than meets the eye. Threatened by the band, the police, and dangerous unknown assailants, Sever with the help of his beautiful and intelligent ex-wife Ginny, is determined to learn the truth.

In the world of music, with double deals, beautiful women and sexy sounds, nothing is as it seems. Set against the exotic backdrops of Florida and Jamaica, this is an edgy, atmospheric, edge-of-your-seat mystery that will keep you guessing right up to the shocking ending.

Author Notes

Don Bruns is a songwriter, musician and advertising executive. Don and his family live in Ohio, and frequent Florida and the Caribbean. This is his first book. His Web site is

The song "Just One Of The Boys" is on Don Bruns' album Last Flight Out
available from White Sand records or

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Bruns explores what would happen if the record industry's next hot prospects actually believed in their violent lyrics. Jaded music journalist Mick Sever, veteran of Spin and MTV, skips promoting his latest best-seller to catch a Jamaican band that combines reggae and hip-hop (something real-life acts such as Shaggy already do). The only problem with Derrick and the Laments is that their lyrics often promote violence against women, and women keep turning up dead wherever they play. The industry types want to milk the publicity and wish away the consequences, but pragmatic Sever knows solving the homicides will land him another fat book contract. None of the characters are admirable, but they're all believable. In this compelling, fast-paced story, Bruns nails the world of celebrity journalism. If only his descriptive passages--"the splashes of bodies breaking the smooth surface of the placid, chlorinated water were crystal clear" --didn't so often land with a clank and a cliche, he'd have a solid-gold hit on his hands. --Frank Sennett

Publisher's Weekly Review

Set in Jamaica and Florida and steeped in the lore of rock and roll, pot, Rastafarianism and reggae rap, Bruns's first novel, alas, provides only moderate mystery entertainment. Mick Sever, a renowned rock critic and author of a bestselling book about a rock star's murder, agrees to do a piece on a new reggae group headed by the charismatic Derrick Layman (hailed as "the second coming of Bob Marley"), whose misogynistic lyrics advocate violence against women. Two young women have already been murdered after Derrick and the Laments concerts. When a third victim is stabbed to death, the alleged killer, Roland Jamison, one of Layman's security guards, is found standing over the body with a bloody knife. The police, understandably, arrest Jamison, but Sever, like Inspector Clouseau under similar obvious circumstances in A Shot in the Dark, doubts the man's guilt based on his bewildered expression. Bruns makes much of this and the authorities' unwillingness to accept it as evidence. There are few suspects but their complex relationships generate most of the narrative interest. There are two attempts to drive Sever off the road, a bashing or two and a fistfight, but otherwise little action and no suspense. Sever may not be a terribly compelling sleuth, but his extensive knowledge of the rock world helps redeem the story, as does a clever and logical solution to the crimes. (Oct. 21) Forecast: Blurbs from Sue Grafton, Lee Child and Steve Hamilton should assure more than usual attention to this debut mystery. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

When Mick Sever, an influential music critic and best-selling writer, first hears a hot, new Jamaican band called Derrick and the Laments, he's hooked despite the front man's violent political and racial rants. More than that, though, he's intrigued by the fact that three murders of young women have followed Derrick's recent concerts. The last killing occurred on a yacht in Miami during a post-concert party. Mick senses another best seller and begins investigating. Well-paced prose, unnerving, high-speed action, and lively subject matter merit this attention, especially from readers interested in music. A solid debut. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



JAMAICA BLUE (Chapter One) I'm tellin' ya, Mick, this kid is like the second coming of Bob Marley." Bobby Vane waggled his fat index finger at a waitress as he stuffed another shrimp in his mouth. "We got him comin' over here to tour with Brandy this summer, but hell, if it goes good, we might just bolt the Brandy thing and take off on our own." He smiled at the waitress as she walked to the table. "Another Scotch, honey, the Glenlivit or whatever you got, okay?" He waved her away. A smile played on Mick Sever's face. Bobby Vane always had a new artist, a new recording contract, a new tour to promote. And each one was guaranteed to be bigger than the one before. "Were you a Marley fan, Mick? Huh? Were ya? Ya know, the kids today, they all got Marley in their CD collections, and hell, the guy died like in 1981, before most of 'em were even a gleam in their old man's eye. So I figure that this guy's gonna just be the hottest thing." He wiped his greasy fingers on the green linen napkin in his lap and scanned the table for any last bites of food he may have missed. "Ya want anything else, Mick? Just name it." "No, I'm fine." "Ya know, ya eat like a bird. Like a fuckin' bird. So, watcha think? You get a chance to see Jamaica, the sun, the sand, the honeys, and you get to see his concert." "What's the name again?" "Derrick Lyman." Vane put his meaty hand on Sever's and patted it. "Mick, if this isn't the biggest thing since grunge..." "Bobby, I was never a real big fan of grunge." Vane looked at him. "It's reggae and hip-hop. It's like dance hall, rock steady, and ska all wrapped up in one sound and it's just plain hot. I've got a rough mix right here." He reached down to a scuffed brown leather bag and pawed through the contents until he found the jewel case. "Here, this'll give you a little taste of what this guy does. Derrick Lyman and the Laments." "Laments?" "Well, we're still working with that. Marley had the Wailing Wailers, and they changed it to just the Wailers. We'll get it right before we go big-time. Right now I want you to see how electrifying this boy is with a crowd. He brings 'em to their feet and never lets 'em sit down, Mick. I'm tellin' ya, you're gonna want to do a story on him. And I'm willing to give you first crack." "How many writers have turned you down?" "You hurt me, Mr. Sever. I want you to follow this career. You're a powerful man. People believe what you say. Give me...give my boy a break. If I'm wrong, you still get a vacation in a tropical paradise." "I get to spend three days in a Third World country where the white man is not only in the minority, but in many cases not too well liked." "Come on. Rolling Stone already said they'd pick up the tab. I just gotta get you to do the article." He looked at Sever with his big brown eyes, much like a dog Sever had had in the sixth grade. The dog, Waddles, or something like that, had run away from home and was never seen again. "All right, Vane, I'll go. We'll see what this Derrick and the Laments is all about. So what do we call this music? Reggae rap?" "Well, you're the word man. Rasta rap, reggae rap..." "So he's Rastafarian?" "Hell, isn't everyone in Jamaica? He sprinkles the songs with some of that philosophy mumbo jumbo. Worked for Marley. It'll work for Derrick." Vane grabbed the Scotch as the waitress set it down and he took a gulp, pounding the glass back onto the table. "Here's to a new superstar. Here's to reggae rap." He raised the glass. Sever picked up his water glass, glanced around at the other tables to be sure no one was staring, then softly clinked his glass with Vane's. "Bobby, no promises. If I don't like the kid or his music, that's the way the story will read." "I know, I know. I'm not worried. The kid will bowl you over. We got a hit here, Mick, and you're gonna thank me for steering you in his direction." He finished his Scotch, pushed his corpulent body back from the table, and gave Sever a huge grin. "Damn, life is good! Life is good!" JAMAICA BLUE Copyright (c) 2002 by Don Bruns. Excerpted from Jamaica Blue by Donn Bruns, Don Bruns All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.