September 6, 2016

Moving On Up Is dangerous

In Easier To Kill, the fifth novel in Wesley’s Tamara Hayle series, a black woman survives rape by her foster father and teenage prostitution to become a famous radio host of her own show. But she can’t completely escape her past.

Mandy Magic, the famous host of a nighttime radio talk show, hires Tamara to find out who sent her a note with the words “Movin’ On Up” written on it. She received the note shortly after her cousin Tyrone Mason was stabbed to death in a city park frequented by gay men. The words are the title to the theme song of the 1970s TV show “The Jeffersons.”

A few days later, Mandy’s office manager and best friend since grammar school Pauline Reese is strangled to death. We are not told what is in the second not Mandy receives after Pauline’s death. The next victim is Kenton Daniels, III whom Mandy hired as a consultant. He, like Tyrone, is stabbed to death. Although the two men were stabbed and Pauline was strangled, Tamara believes the three murders are connected and that the connection lies in Mandy Magic’s past. Mandy doesn’t receive a note after Kenton’s death, suggesting maybe the killer is getting closer to her. She doesn’t want Tamara to investigate or talk to the police about the murders. She insists that Tamara confine her investigation to finding out who sent the notes.

Thinking about the murders and the words “Movin’ On Up,” Tamara believes the killer, in killing people close to Mandy, is moving on up to finally go after her. Thus, she fears 18-year-old Taniqua, Mandy’s adopted daughter, might be next while at the same time she considers her a possible suspect (telling you why would be a spoiler).

Tamara becomes frustrated with the case because she feels Mandy is keeping a secret from her. Mandy refuses to talk about her past and insists that Tamara not involve the police. Tamara’s frustration boils over, and when she confronts her uncooperative client and insists she tell her the truth, Mandy fires her. As Tamara leaves, she sees a man enter the house and follows him in expecting the worse. The confrontation between the man and Mandy reveals her secret. After learning the truth Tamara suffers a bout of deep depression. She admired Mandy and considered her a survivor because she moved on up from working as a teen prostitute to become the famous host of her own radio show.

EAISER TO KILL is short, only 193 pages, but the crisp, conversational prose maintains the easy flowing pace and the suspense from start to finish. The tension builds slowly and is not relieved until the very last page when the identity of the killer is revealed. The story of a woman surviving her soul draining past and becoming famous is both uplifting and depressing (though I’m not sure Wesley meant it to be uplifting or depressing). You’ll have to read it to find out why, after the revelation of Mandy’s secret, Tamara goes into deep depression.