A hearty welcome to musician-turned-novelist Don Bruns, whose South Beach Shakedown offers readers a high-energy romp through the uncomfortably parallel worlds of the pop music industry and the criminal underbelly of Miami. Entertainment journalist Mick Sever owes his career to pop star Gideon Pike. Pike allowed Sever into his inner circle back when Sever was a fledgling reporter, and that entrŽe put Sever on the map. Fame went to Sever's head (not to mention his liver and his neural synapses) as he lived in the shadow of the pop idol; his excesses cost him his marriage, and very nearly his career as well. Now Gideon Pike is in a jam, and through a mutual acquaintance (Sever's ex-wife, for whom Sever still carries an Olympic-size torch) he has summoned the writer to help bail him out. It will not be easy, though, for when Sever arrives in Miami, he finds that Gideon Pike has disappeared, and that Pike's compadres are dropping like flies. A Korean mobster adds a bit of Asian spice to the dish, and Sever's ex, Ginny, supplies the sizzling heat. The banter, particularly between Sever and Ginny, is relaxed and believable, just what you'd expect from old lovers who are still friends. With the relentlessly action-packed South Beach Shakedown, Bruns has crafted what may be this season's quintessential suspense read.

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