LA BLUES 3: FIVE SMOOTH STONES
A cold sweat, heart palpitations, bounding headaches and silent fears are just some of what Zipporah “Z” Saldano is about to experience. Nightmares can wake you in the middle of the night or even evoke memories during the day. Facing so many obstacles in her life and now trying to rejuvenate her reality show, little does she know that there are many more difficult roadblocks to come. Bad omens! Do you believe in them? What would you do if you saw a flock of ravens forming an arrow in the sky? What if a blackbird flew into your garage? Would you predict that something bad was going to happen? “Z” has just come back from Brazil, fought to free her brother Mayhem from kidnappers and in the process watched the man she loved killed. Running off to Rio to free her brother and then discounting Romero’s proposal for marriage brings back memories within the first chapter of the book and sets the tone for what is about to happen next. Flashbacks trigger her nightmares and she relives the shootout but something else about that last time she was with Romero would change things for Z forever. Remembering the terrible ordeal at the hand of Alfredo, she reveals to readers her dilemma. What would happen if she were pregnant? What if the child belonged to the rapist and not Romero, her true love?
Once again Zipporah relies on the friendship and love of Chica and confides in her. Reflecting back about the murder of her own son, Chica bolsters her courage, tells her to forge ahead. But, what will “Z” do? That is the real issue that the author presents right from the start of the novel? As Chica recounts what happened to her and the end result, “Z” faces her own demons and choices. Would she opt for an abortion? Rationalizing her options the author reveals the character’s innermost thoughts, fears and trepidations regarding parenthood. Was she the motherly type? Would she be able to care for a young child like she did her younger brother so many years ago? But, before she could ponder the rest someone walks into her life hoping to create a cushion for her to lean on. Reverend Edgar Broussard of the Fellowship Baptist Church, Inglewood, California would be more than just a friend but her savior.
Within the novel we hear the voice of the main character as she narrates the events in the first person. Enter her world, feel her pain, work with her as she bears her soul trying to come to terms with not only her pregnancy, her estrangement from her real mother and her inner conflicts that might destroy her. Once again the novel is set on the war torn streets of Los Angeles, where gangs think nothing of shooting up mourners at a funeral, or taking pot shots at anyone on the streets. Drugs, murder, corrupt government agents and police rule the streets. But, Z reminds readers that she is strong and bent on finding the two men who orchestrated her brother’s kidnapping and caused the death of her man she loved. Throughout the novel the author recounts her past. Abandoned, orphaned to a point, rescued by her foster mother Shirley, knowing her mother was in prison for a crime someone else committed, author Maxine Thompson in will place several more obstacles in Z’s way that will not only surprise readers but will help you understand just how strong she really is and why she never gives up on herself or getting what she wants.
A simple phone call will bring her back to reality as someone named Rachel Jackson phones her. Not quite sure at first, her reception halted, Z learns that this person just might be the sister she has been looking for. Excited yet scared, not knowing what to expect she spends time talking with her and hopefully will connect. Money being thrown in the air, people flooding the streets taking the money and the police trying to stop the melee of havoc and Z gets caught in the middle. What happens when someone smacks right into her truck? Blindsided and not seeing it coming she winds up in the hospital fighting for her life and that of her unborn child. A car hit her and just kept going and all of a sudden her floodlights came on, the dull bulbs of doubt about whether to have this child disappeared and a major decision was made. If you are not sure about the events that led up to this point read page 37 and learn about harrowing experiences that she had, voodoo power, a surviving African religions, two rogue agents, relive the death of Romero and finally the make believe wedding on her reality show. The author introduces the issue of right to live. Does the child have the right to a full life or should she end it before it’s too late? This accident would shed some light on her true feelings and the two sides of the coin: Abortion: No Abortion are debated and a major decision is revealed. But, the roadblocks are just beginning as her brother shows up and presents her with more. Being pregnant would hamper his plans for his sister, as she explains why she is not going back to Rio to get Appolonia. Revelations about his wealth are discussed and his plans to get back what he claims are his discussed. But, there is much more that happens before the final reveals are made.
Every step of the way the Reverend is there for her and learning about the loss of his wife and child helps readers understand why he wants to help Z. But, is there another reason and will she fall prey to his wiles? Is she ready for another relationship? Meeting her sister Rachel brings her much joy yet she is jealous of how her mother reacts. Resentments run high. Words are spoken both harsh and heartfelt as two sisters try and bond for a short time, a mother bears her soul and tries to justify her past to her angry daughter in the present. Trust comes hard to her and when she is once again in danger it’s the minister that comes to her rescue but first someone is blackmailing her, sets her up and she winds up in jail. Not everything about her brother causes her grief. Read the jail scene, hear the dialogue and smile when you read the final result. As the situation heats up and she is once again in danger, it is the minister that offers her a place of refuge while the police go after the blackmailer and two rogue cops hoping to keep her and her unborn child safe. But, things get out of hand and she winds up alone in a cabin. The roads are blocked. The snow covers the roads and Z goes into labor. Having downloaded important information on UTUBE learned about childbirth, prepared to a point a miracle happens and a child is born. Just who is after her and why? Who comes to the cabin before she goes into labor and wants her dead? What is the final outcome? What happens when someone sets the cabin on fire? Will they safe Z and her child?
What happens when someone blackmails her because of what she knows about Tank? Why doesn’t she reveal the truth to her brother? Where is Tank’s body? What happens when the truth comes out? Five Smooth Stones: five stones that David had: these five stones would keep her safe and remind her that God is in charge of her will stop her from being afraid. But, what happens when she goes into labor and has to face it alone? What happens when she lays eyes on her child for the first time? Will these five stones keep her safe? An ending that will surprise readers as Z comes to terms with her relationship with her mother, her feelings about her sister and the hope of finally reuniting with her brother. The story does not end here for Z but is just beginning for her child. What is next for Z? How will her child grow up? Will she protect the child from the gangs, Crips and the life she is still trying to escape? Family loyalty, distrust, prejudice, corruption, hate, love, moral dilemmas, ethical decisions and one woman that faces it all in a book that will keep you glued to the printed page and hoping that Z will finally find the peace and love she deserves. What is next? Will the Reverend remain a constant in her life? What will happen when Mayhem learns the truth about Tank? Will the Executioner win? What is in Z’s future? That remains to be seen. The Crips are mainly but not exclusively an African American gang originating in Los Angeles, California in 1969 by Raymond Washington and Stanley Williams. The gang has enlarged to one of the largest and most powerful ones in the United States with over thirty thousand gang members involved in murders, robberies, drug dealings and other criminal activities. Enter their world, meet some of the gang members, understand the meaning of the color blue in their clothing and consider themselves the true LA BLUES!
Fran Lewis: Reviewer