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Rhode Island Red
Cover of Rhode Island Red
Rhode Island Red
Nanette Hayes Mystery Series, Book 1
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A New York Times Best Crime Novel of the Year The first book in the Nanette Hayes Mystery series introduces us to jazz-loving, street busker Nanette, whose love life leads her into some very hot water.
Nan's day is not off to a good start. Her on-again, off-again relationship with Walter is off...again, and when she offers a fellow busker a place to stay for the night he ends up murdered on her kitchen floor. To make matters worse, the busker turns out to have been an undercover cop. And his former partner has taken an immediate and extreme dislike to Nan. When she finds that the dead man stashed a wad of cash in her apartment, cash that could go to help his blind girlfriend, Nan's desire to do the right thing lands her in trouble.
Soon she's on the hunt for a legendary saxophone worth its weight in gold. But there are plenty of people who would kill for the priceless instrument, and Nan's new beau just might be one of them.
A New York Times Best Crime Novel of the Year The first book in the Nanette Hayes Mystery series introduces us to jazz-loving, street busker Nanette, whose love life leads her into some very hot water.
Nan's day is not off to a good start. Her on-again, off-again relationship with Walter is off...again, and when she offers a fellow busker a place to stay for the night he ends up murdered on her kitchen floor. To make matters worse, the busker turns out to have been an undercover cop. And his former partner has taken an immediate and extreme dislike to Nan. When she finds that the dead man stashed a wad of cash in her apartment, cash that could go to help his blind girlfriend, Nan's desire to do the right thing lands her in trouble.
Soon she's on the hunt for a legendary saxophone worth its weight in gold. But there are plenty of people who would kill for the priceless instrument, and Nan's new beau just might be one of them.
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Excerpts-
  • From the cover CHAPTER 1

    I mean you

    Ask any Negro. They’ll tell you: a woman does not play a saxophone.

    Except for me.

    Actually, I don’t play sax. It’s more like I noodle. I never studied the horn, but I can get through a “Stars Fell on Alabama” or a “Night and Day” with little or no problem. I was a far from brilliant student of the piano but I can sight read my way through a whole lot of Bach or Bud Powell. See, I’m naturally musical—not talented—I didn’t say I was talented—just musical. At one point—what was I? Three? Four years old?—my father thought I might have been a genuine inheritor in that endless line of Black musical geniuses.

    But not too many of us blow tenor in front of the Off Track Betting Parlor on Lexington Avenue with a battered old hat inverted on the sidewalk. No, I think I pretty much have the exclusive on that one.

    But, wait. Let me explain a few things.

    I’m not a homeless beggar. I play music on the sidewalks of New York but I don’t sleep there. I’m five feet ten inches tall, I turned twenty-eight in January, I’m more or less a Grace Jones lookalike in terms of coloring and body type (she has the better waist, I win for tits), I’m the former second runner-up in the state spelling bee (I was twelve then), hold a degree in French with a minor in music from Wellesley (scholarship all the way), and I live in a fairly low-rent, nondescript walk-up at the edge of Gramercy Park, where that neighborhood starts to bleed into the Methodone-rich valley of drug treatment facilities, hospitals, and drooling academies at First Avenue.

    You know what jazz musicians are like. Always trying to stay cool in the face of the worst kind of hardships. Well, just a couple of days ago, I had come up against a pretty hard one. I was dumped—hard.

    I thought I looked especially cool that day.

    Mostly because of the two-hundred-dollar Italian shades Walter had mistakenly left in the apartment when he moved out—again. This break-up was not the kind of nuclear dogfight we had had in the past. It was just about that low-level hostility toward each other for months on end; that cold kind of resentment; that sex that’s still good but just not right. And then one morning when he goes to work he’s carrying a suitcase with his stuff in it along with his briefcase.

    Not to worry: Walter Michael Moore had someplace else to go. He is very good at hedging his bets, always has been. He never let go of the small rent-controlled place up on Amsterdam and I was pretty sure that around the next corner there was another lady quite willing to sacrifice a little closet space for his Paul Stuart suit.

    No, no need to worry about Walter. Matter of fact, fuck Walter. It was yours truly who now had to worry about keeping body and soul together. Who needed Walt’s four fifths of the rent and groceries like Abbott needed Costello. Who wasn’t currently employed—okay? Who never really got the hang of saving money and had never once been accused of being too future-oriented.

    I had long ago incinerated my bridges at the temp agency. The translation gigs I had depended on for the past year were drying up. And how could I ask my mother for anything when, one, she was struggling with bills herself and, two, I was lying through my teeth to her on a regular basis about the terrific part-time position I had teaching French at NYU?

    Speaking of “Body and Soul,” I was longing to hear it. Oh, I knew I wasn’t ready to play it, I just wanted to hear it. If I kept practicing,...
About the Author-
  • CHARLOTTE CARTER is the author of an acclaimed mystery series featuring Nanette Hayes, a young black American jazz musician with a lust for life and a talent for crime solving. Coq au Vin, the second book in the series, has been optioned for the movies. Her short fiction has appeared in a number of American and British anthologies. Charlotte Carter has lived in the American Midwest, North Africa and France. She currently resides in NYC.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    December 30, 1996
    Style's the thing in this breezy, sexy mystery narrated by Nanette, a French-speaking, sax-playing street musician so charming and confident that she overshadows her own story. Having once more broken up with her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Walter, Nanette agrees to let another musician crash in her New York City apartment. When she wakes up during the night, she finds him lying on her floor with a knife sticking out of his throat and discovers that he was an undercover cop. Then she finds (and begins to spend) $60,000 in cash that had been stuffed into her saxophone. Soon, a mysterious stranger begins sending her yellow roses and begs her to teach him all she knows about Charlie Parker. It seems somewhat contrived that Nanette, as smart as she is ("I was one of those obnoxious child prodigies whose exploits are fillers for the Daily News"), fails to connect the dots between the men in her life, but her sardonic wit ("Two men do not a slut make. But, still and all, two ain't one") will help incredulous readers suspend their disbelief. The details about music and musicians are well-placed, and Nanette's down-and-out colleagues are an intriguing, believable bunch.

  • AudioFile Magazine How does a gorgeous, superintelligent Black street saxophonist get mixed up with a murder, a police investigation, the Mafia, and the search for a priceless saxophone? Narrator Karen Murray's voice is as warm and sexy as a Charlie Parker classic. She pulls no punches as she portrays musician Nanette Hayes, who is being "played" by an ex-boyfriend and the new lover she thought was Mr. Right. Murray's narration combines warm tones and an inviting purr with a gutsy spitfire edge as Nanette sets out to solve a mystery that begins with finding an undercover cop dead in her apartment and a lot of dough stuffed in her sax. This is the first in a new series. B.J.P. � AudioFile 2022, Portland, Maine
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Rhode Island Red
Nanette Hayes Mystery Series, Book 1
Charlotte Carter
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