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To Funk and Die in LA by Nelson George
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To Funk and Die in LA

by Nelson George

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Nelson George takes the reader on a tour of the history of funk and a look behind the scenes of the music business as the mystery of who killed Big Donny Hunter plays out. His writing style intrigued me at first, but I soon became bogged down and had some problems following who was who. The changing nature of Los Angeles neighborhoods as ethnic minorities move in and out provides another interesting history lesson for the reader, one that I found helped keep me engaged. In the end, I enjoyed the story and was satisfied with the outcome. While I gave the book three stars, I would read another if it crossed my desk. ( )
  bill | Oct 6, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
"To Funk and Die in LA" is touted as a "very dark mission". I assumed that meant a mission to investigate the death of a close relative, however, if you are primarily interested in a murder investigation this book fails miserably. The investigation is a mere side note to an unending litany of rap, hip-hop, R & B, neo-soul, trap music, electro beats and punk funk references not one caucasian in a thousand could possibly understand or relate to. Reading this book was akin to Chinese water torture, except instead of a drop by drop agony it was more of a ceaseless rain shower of black music information, descriptions and references. About 80% into the story the protagonist says: "I think it's time I really did find Dr. Funk". Ya think? The action necessary to identify the perpetrator occurs in the last thirty pages.

I had to force myself to finish reading this book as it contained absolutely nothing in which I was interested. Unless you have a great interest in the intricacies of rap, hip-hop and other forms of black music I doubt you will enjoy this painful journey. Don't waste your precious time, there are many other books out there eminently more enjoyable... ( )
  MikeBruscellSr | Sep 13, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
To Funk and Die in LA is the fourth D Hunter story in Nelson George’s series featuring the music industry security specialist who frequently finds himself playing detective. This time the mystery hits home, his grandfather Big Danny is murdered, shot at the intersection of Crenshaw and Wilshire in L.A. D goes for the funeral and stays to find out who killed his grandfather as well as work with his friend Night, the musician, who has moved to LA.

The investigation revealed a lot he did not know about Big Danny, such as a loan-sharking business D did not know about that may have been the motive for his murder. Meanwhile, he is tasked with seeking out Big Danny’s old friend from his club days, Dr. Funk, the famed musician who appears to be living on the streets. Professionally, he is looking after Night and fielding a range of propositions that strike him as dubious.

Music lovers will love To Funk and Die in LA for the musical references alone. Fully inhabiting the LA music scene and the various communities of LA, Nelson George is brilliant at creating a sense of place and time. Brands and bands are on point. It makes the story immediate and authentic. That sort of topicality is almost cinematic, excellent at creating a book for the “now.”

It’s a tradeoff, though. Stories with so much reliance on brands to create the scene become dated in a decade. There’s no intention of writing something that lasts which is too bad. Without that ambition, the story gets short shrift. D does more deal-making or deal-avoiding than detecting and in the end, the identification of the murderer and even the punishment is outsourced. The mystery doesn’t seem to interest George nearly so much as the music industry and that is the part of the story that is good and interesting.

George is at his best and most passionate when writing about music and about the city of LA, about gentrification, about ethnic competition and struggle among Koreans, Blacks, and Latinos, and the effects of racism. In a way, the mystery seems a vehicle for him to write about what really interests him.

To Funk and Die in LA will be released September 5th. I received an ARC through a promotional raffle at LibraryThing.

To Funk and Die in LA at Akashic Books
Nelson George Author Site

https://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpress.com/2017/09/02/to-funk-and-die-in-la-by-nelson-george ( )
  Tonstant.Weader | Sep 2, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A murder mystery from a new point of view (for me): African-American hip hop scene in LA. The fourth in a series of mysteries, the first of which were set in Brooklyn, the protagonist D heads to Los Angeles, where his grandfather has been killed in a drive-by shooting. He explores the music scene in LA from high to low as well as the Korean community in K-town. Interesting takes on how a multi-cultural LA works, with blacks, Latin American immigrants, and Koreans intersecting; yes, there is conflict, but a lot more mutual appreciation than meets the eye. People who know hip hop better than I will likely appreciate the references, and mystery lovers will get into it too, as well as people who love Los Angeles. Highly recommended. ( )
  belgrade18 | Aug 31, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Ex-bodyguard D Hunter travels from New York to Los Angelas to attend his grandfather's funeral and help his aunt and cousin settle his grandfather'a business affairs. He finds himself in the middle of a long drawn out mystery surounding his grandfather's murder. His grandfather was a local businessman who owned a neighborhood grocery. He also makes loans to the neighbors, but D discovers that there he may have also been in the loan sharking business. D's grandfather Danny has a long time relationship with Dr. Funk, a once well known musician. Dr. Funk is the main character in the book. He shuns publicity, while leading a nomadic exsistance under the warchful eye of Danny. ( )
  CathyShelton | Aug 30, 2017 |
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