A Brooklyn mystery series visits LA
Nelson George is an author, filmmaker and lifelong Brooklyn resident. In 1974, he saw Roman Polanski’s masterpiece “Chinatown” in a Times Square movie theater. He says of the experience:
“The golden sunlight, the dubious characters, and the sense that corruption thrived just below Los Angeles’ glamorous surface hit me hard. When I finally reached the City of Angels in 1981, I found it hard to separate the cinematic LA from the real one. I soon realized that director Polanski and screenwriter Robert Towne had tapped into something elemental about the balance of physical beauty and beastly behavior.”
This obsession with LA led George to transport the hero of his mystery series, ex-bodyguard D Hunter, from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. “For me, the murder of an elderly black man at the start of ‘To Funk and Die in LA’ is the catalyst for a look at how a city’s past and present dialogue via music, race, and crime,” George said.
“To Funk and Die in LA,” the fourth book in the D Hunter crime-fiction series, brings the ex-bodyguard to the City of Angels on a very dark mission when his grandfather, businessman Daniel “Big Danny” Hunter, is shot dead in a drive-by. Why would someone execute a grocery store owner? D soon finds there was more to Big Danny’s life than selling loaves of bread. The old man, it turns out, was deeply involved with Dr. Funk, a legendary musical innovator who has become a mysterious recluse.
Most of the novel takes place in the LA neighborhoods of Crenshaw, Koreatown and Pico-Union — areas where black, Asian and Latino cultures intersect away from the glamour of Hollywood — and echoes of the 1992 riots play a significant role in D’s investigation. In the tradition of Raymond Chandler and Walter Mosley, D Hunter rides through the mean streets of Los Angeles seeking truth and not always finding justice.
George’s other books include the first three novels in his D Hunter series, “The Accidental Hunter,” “The Plot Against Hip Hop” and “The Lost Treasures of R&B”. Among his many nonfiction works are “The Death of Rhythm & Blues,” “Hip Hop America” and “The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture & Style.”
As a filmmaker he has directed the documentaries “Brooklyn Boheme,” “Finding the Funk” and “A Ballerina’s Tale.” He is also a writer/producer on the Netflix series “The Get Down.”
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