“Barbados Heat” – Murder Mystery set here gives us a failing grade: Sad thing? Most of it, is Accurate!

Take Barry White’s voice and mash it into Dr Dre’s body, make him an unofficial sidekick of the hero – add a situation which mimics yet exceeds Al & Tipper Gore’s campaign to put warning labels on compact discs then place a grisly murder connected to an earlier and even grislier murder which fell under a tropical setting and you pretty much have Don Bruns’ second musical mystery “Barbados Heat.”

The hero seems like an alternative version of MTV's Kurt Loder and he is initially drawn to a case where the suspect is his former best friend who later bilked him for heavy cash, only investigating from a pure get-the-story perspective it soon appears there may be a possibility of a set up... Is it it wishful thinking, hoping to revive camaraderie lost so long ago or is it a sense of impartiality also hoping to unravel hot clues for a top story even Rolling Stone would kill to have?

The hero seems like an alternative version of MTV’s Kurt Loder and he is initially drawn to a case where the suspect is his former best friend who later bilked him for heavy cash, only investigating from a pure get-the-story perspective it soon appears there may be a possibility of a set up… Is it it wishful thinking, hoping to revive camaraderie lost so long ago or is it a sense of impartiality also hoping to unravel hot clues for a top story even Rolling Stone would kill to have?

Congressman Robert Shapply is no saint. A former music insider who fleeced his clients for millions, he now leads the crusade against offensive and violent rap lyrics. When he is attacked and murdered in front of his Adams Morgan home , the list of suspects—from former clients to current headliners—is endless.

But the killer might be closer to home: Police arrest Shapply’s son and charge him with murder.

For music journalist Mick Sever, covering this case is personal. Mick, a former client of the congressman and best friend of the accused killer, knows the case isn't quite as simple as it appears. He believes his friend's claims of innocence and sets out to prove them. With the help of his ex-wife and an old friend, Mick must penetrate the bizarre Shapply family—the icy matriarch, Alicia, the disturbed daughter, Amber and the minister brother-in-law—to find the truth.

For music journalist Mick Sever, covering this case is personal. Mick, a former client of the congressman and best friend of the accused killer, knows the case isn’t quite as simple as it appears. He believes his friend’s claims of innocence and sets out to prove them. With the help of his ex-wife and an old friend, Mick must penetrate the bizarre Shapply family—the icy matriarch, Alicia, the disturbed daughter, Amber and the minister brother-in-law—to find the truth.

From Washington, D.C. to Sarasota, Florida and Barbados, rock and roll journalist Mick Sever follows the leads, trying to prove the innocence of his former childhood friend. Threatened by unknown assailants and dangers at every turn, Mick becomes the hunted as the killer turns the tables in a stunning climax.

This is not a new book, it was printed 2003, it is his second from a series of five books set in the Caribbean – I found it in a second hand store on the south coast. I decided to buy it and see what kind of portrayal Barbados earned. I was glad yet sad, it seems Mr Bruns fairly nailed it, but not like how you find Barbados in the Top Ten restaurants and feel pleased kind of way – more like the Casa Grande warnings found on Trip Advisor.

Without providing any direct spoilers,  it appears Sever stayed at Bouganvillea on the South Coast, saw Mount Gay in the North but did not call it by name... The intrepid hero has his 21st Century Watson tagging along; we read how every time T-Beau (muscular Barry White a la Dr Dre) came here, he said the roads were dug up and this time it was to lay down new sewers and what took a month in USA takes 2 or 3 years in Barbados. Ouch! Has he been here or what?

Without providing any direct spoilers,  it appears Sever stayed at Bouganvillea on the South Coast, saw Mount Gay in the North but did not call it by name… The intrepid hero has his 21st Century Watson tagging along; we read how every time T-Beau (muscular Barry White a la Dr Dre) came here, he said the roads were dug up and this time it was to lay down new sewers and what took a month in USA takes 2 or 3 years in Barbados. Ouch! Has he been here or what?

T-Beau and Sever chug several bottles of Banks beer, while they learn how it is both difficult and easy to get Police to cooperate in attempting to dredge a Cold Case of a 20 year old murder. When they do hit paydirt and access the true nitty-gritty, it becomes apparent based on statements recorded even back then, people turned a blind eye as money passed hands… How many cases in Barbados have remained ‘Unsolved‘ for those very reasons?

What I liked about Bruns’ approach in covering Barbados was that he did not try to convey or imitate our dialect nor use any famous words either… He would convey Bajan syntax via standard English, e.g.Where you is?” However – in the end, protagonist Sever is not a happy camper and has no pleasant memories of Barbados and gives it a failing grade – the thing is, in my view, he seemed to really pick up on how things happen here… So this is not slander, when do we wake up and start shaking out the maggots from these still potentially ripe fruit trees, before no one looks to harvest any more?

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