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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

No musician has lived a more transformational, or more tragic, life than Charlie Parker, one of the most talented and influential figures of the twentieth century. From the start of his career in the late 1930s, Parker was a new kind of American artist: a revolutionary musician who internalized all of popular music and blew it back through his alto saxophone "at the tempo of emergency"--even as he wrestled with a drug addiction that would ultimately contribute to his death at thirty-four.

Yet no writer has fully captured the arc and texture of Parker's personal story . . . until now. Kansas City Lightning, the first in a two-volume life of Parker by Stanley Crouch, draws on decades of original interviews with peers, collaborators, and family members to reveal Parker as he emerged from the landscapes--literal and artistic--that he inhabited. A precocious child, shy yet self-possessed, Charlie ventured early into the nightlife of wide-open Depression Kansas City, a veritable stomping ground for such bandleaders as Walter Page, Bennie Moten, and Moten's successor, Count Basie, the king of Kansas City swing. Inspired by saxophonists Lester Young and Chu Berry, trumpeter Roy Eldridge, and his mentor Buster Smith, Parker endured initial humiliation on the bandstand--yet persevered until he mastered the idiom and began to transcend it.

Kansas City Lightning follows Parker from the "freak shows" and "spook breakfasts" of late-night Kansas City, to the segregated union halls of Chicago, and finally to New York's Harlem ballrooms. Most intimately, it brings us into young Charlie Parker's family circle, as he plunged headlong into a very adult world--lured by both music and drugs, torn between his oddly protective mother and Rebecca Ruffin, the impressionable young woman whose romance with Charlie is at the bittersweet heart of this story.

With the musical wisdom of a lifetime jazz scholar, the cultural insights of an indispensable social critic, and the narrative skill of a writer at the height of his powers, Crouch brings Parker back to glorious, surprising, and deeply moving life.

Featuring Bernard Samson in the third volume of a trilogy: v.1. "Faith" v.2. 'Hope"

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Reviews provided by Syndetics

Publishers Weekly Review

With this successor to Faith and Hope, British spy Bernard Samson has used up nine lives as the hero of three trilogies. Yet he, and Deighton, remain full of vitality. In his latest depiction of the hermetic world of English spies, "all those inscrutable public-school ruffians," Deighton brings us up to 1988. Because Deighton's work is an evolving saga of spycraft channeled through Samson's life and times, readers unfamiliar with the earlier books may feel like newcomers at a dinner party for old friends. As Deighton regulars appear-including Samson's tortured, rising intelligence star, Fiona; her vulgar father; department members Dicky, Bret and Gloria; Samson's mentor, Silas; and his boyhood pal, Werner-there's a lot of hashing and re-hashing of old and new murders, a dying ex-spy and a missing lockbox. Quickly enough, all readers will be swept up by the complicated plot and by Samson's sly asides: "Maps are of course the décor adopted by men reluctant to display their taste in art"; an American Anglophile's car "was tall and angular, built in those days before every Rolls wanted to squat down and look like a Mercedes." Despite an ending that is surprisingly mild, this tale, like those before it, is well crafted and reliably satisfying. $100,000 ad/promo; simultaneous HarperPaper publication of Hope; U.K., translation rights: Brie Burkeman; first serial and dramatic rights: Jonathan Clowes. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Booklist Review

Deighton ranks with le Carreas one of the all-time best writers of espionage thrillers. His latest, the conclusion to his best-selling spy trilogy that began with Faith (1994) and Hope [BKL N 15 95], features enigmatic British agent Bernard Samson, who has become increasingly disenchanted by spydom's cultural shifts and political vicissitudes. Bernard's wife, Fiona, is back home after a dangerous flirtation with double-agentry that resulted in the tragic death of her sister, Tessa. Bernard, assigned to play second fiddle to head of station in Berlin, is frustrated at having to leave Fiona in London and his children in the care of Fiona's well-off parents. But Bernard has bigger problems: defending himself against the daily maneuverings for power, rationalizing the increasing emotional estrangement he feels from Fiona, intuiting subtle changes in his longtime mentor, and fending off his father-in-law's attempt to take custody of Bernard's kids. But most troubling of all is Bernard's feeling that something about Tessa's death stinks to high heaven, a feeling reinforced when his attempts to get at the truth are thwarted. Bernard is at his stubborn, cynical best, exhibiting his trademark biting wit and subtle disregard for the rules as he pushes the envelope in his quest for the truth. But this story also shows a darker, more despairing Bernard, who is as much a victim of his own doubts and insecurities as he is of the system he serves. A brilliant new entry in Deighton's superb repertoire. --Emily Melton

Kirkus Book Review

The final volume in the third of Deighton's Cold War trilogies to feature Bernard Samson, the star-crossed British intelligence agent who has yet to wear out his welcome. Back from a couple of enervating sojourns behind the Iron Curtain at the start of 1988 (Hope, 1996), Bernard (assistant to MI6's Berlin Resident) once again makes a nuisance of himself by digging into the death of his sister-in-law Tessa. The lost lady was killed in a shootout prior to the extraction from East Germany of Bernard's wife Fiona (a fellow spy who had infiltrated the Stasi as a counterfeit traitor). Assuming London Central ordered Tessa's murder to provide a corpse that would convince DDR authorities that Fiona had died in an abortive effort to return her to the West, the seasoned field-agent begins raking up a past his superiors want to forget. Among those he importunes for information are Silas Gaunt (a nominally retired but still legendary figure in the UK's espionage community), Jim Prettyman (a venal, terminally ill colleague), and Werner Volkman (a lifelong friend who handles spot assignments for SIS). Initially, Bernard makes little headway in his inquiries. Eventually, though, the tangled web begins to unravel, the conspiracy to make sense. The tension builds nicely as Bernard leverages his hard-won knowledge and forces the tawdry supporting players to take violent action. The devious principals remain behind the scenes until upper-echelon disclosures at a closed-door meeting in Berlin confirm Bernard's suspicions about their gratuitously duplicitous roles. At which point, the department's deputy director bleakly concludes that a particularly heinous act was, if not a perfect crime, at least a perfect solution. Bernard Samson gives another fine account of himself, earning a substantive measure of professional and personal redemption. Even so, almost 18 months remain on Deighton's narrative calendar before the Berlin Wall comes down, suggesting to optimists that the author has world enough and time for more trilogies. ($100,000 ad promo)