Brooklyn Boro

A Brooklyn mystery series visits LA

Brooklyn BookBeat

February 7, 2018 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Author Nelson George. Courtesy of Akashic Books
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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.”

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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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