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A Phat Death: Or, The Last Days of Noir Soul (Nina Halligan) Paperback – January 1, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: Nina Halligan (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Akashic Books (January 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1888451483
  • ISBN-13: 978-1888451481
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 7.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,457,026 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Norman Kelley has written for Newsday, the Village Voice, The Nation, and New York Press. He is the author of "The Head Negro in Charge Syndrome (Nation Books 2004), and the Nina Halligan mystery series -- Black Heat (HarperCollins), The Big Mango (Akashic), and A Phat Death (Akashic). He lives in Brooklyn.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. E. Riding on August 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
Unenthusiastic about the pedestrian title, and unfamiliar with Norman Kelley, I picked this up on the strength of keywords in the Publisher's Weekly review, "PI and part-time intellectual...a romp of a read...amuse and offend...provocative novel." The clever book cover resembling a CD jewel case also served to pique my interest. It turns out that the PW review, which appears on page 1 of the novel is for Kelley's earlier work, The Big Mango, and that the jewel case cover would be the extent of A Phat Death's cleverness.

This novel is lock-step in format with countless other melodramatic, pseudo-erotic, African-American pop-lit books. It is rife with poorly veiled and ineffective eroticism, undeveloped characters, and loose approximations of realistic dialogue. Check out "malethang" and "Lion of Judah" for penis, and the heroines description of sexual passion," [I was] holding onto him as if he were the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." Clearly this is why the heroine is only a part-time intellectual. She's also a fearless combat expert, bourbon drinker, gratuitous N-word and F-bomb dropper who smokes more marijuana than a Bob Marley conventioneer. She's a man's man really, except for her perfect breasts and penchant for high heels.

Unfortunately Kelley falls into the trap of many immature writers and spoon feeds the (impossible) story as opposed to allowing readers to use their imaginations (and suspend rational beliefs completely), and he often mistakes convoluted for complex. Considering the English 101 adage--show, don't tell--would certainly take his writing to the next level.

Overall, A Phat Death is much like its African-American sitcom and pop-movie counterparts; it's unrealistic, cartoonish, a little embarrassing, but not without its entertaining moments.
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