Sunday, April 11, 2010

My main man, Tennyson Hardwick

I must say I am very happy. No. I am ecstatic! I was one of a fortunate few to be able to get an advanced copy of the new Tennyson Hardwick novel, From Cape Town With Love, written by Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes in collaboration with Blair Underwood. This happens to be the third Tennyson Hardwick novel and I must say it is every bit as excellent as the previous two, if not more so. The growth of Tennyson is a very carefully crafted and wonderfully written example of character development. Few authors take this much care with their characters as Tananarive and Steven do. And I'm talking about all of their published works. The fact that this wife and husband writing team can bring their considerable experience and craft together to create not one but a series of novels focused on a close cast of characters, with Tennyson being the foci the others are attached to, is a testament to hard work and love of what one does. In this case: Storytelling. I'll do a small review and try my best to leave out any spoilers.

In this installment of the whirlwind life of Tennyson Hardwick we go international. South Africa, to be exact. All of Tennyson's journeys so far had a personal element to them and so does this one. The previous two dealt with Ten investigating the death of people Ten knew, but this one deals with saving the life of a child, so the personal aspect is still there. The intricate weaving together of independent story lines and intricate details is just wonderful. Tennyson's journey towards himself is furthered along masterfully. We get to see more and more of the man underneath struggling to emerge. His relationship with his father took a giant leap forward in the last book and it continues right along in this one. And the same goes for his relationship with his adopted daughter Chela, which is a particularly favorite storyline of mine in the series. Ten is still working out his women issues but I think he is making progress. But he is as freaky and bad ass as ever, which is always a good thing. I'm not certain I liked the way the book ends but I love the way the main storyline ends.

What I love most is the masterful use of language! And also the wonderfully expressed points of view on various issues and topics. And done within the context of the story, no preaching. For example, "Suddenly, the answer to the question Why do celebrities adopt these children was obvious. Because the children need them. Because they can." There you go. Now, normally I don't like marking in books at all but I realized I was going to have to: 1. Because this was an ARC and I knew I needed to do a review, 2. Because there were just too many literary gems throughout the entire book. I had to use a highlighter. I'd list one of my favorites but don't want to deprive anyone of the poignant hilarity of the thought Ten had about his new client. Makes me smile just thinking about it. All I'll say is 'pixie dust'. Damn.

Also another favorite aspect of the Tennyson novels I love is the fight sequences. You can just see the gleefulness Steve must have when writing these down. He brings all of his very considerable martial arts and fight experience and knowledge to the fore. I love the description of the art he made up to scare the crap out of Ten. I could just see it in action in my minds eye. Furniture-fu indeed! I'd add in a few techniques of Running-away-Gun-fu if I ever saw someone coming at me with that! Like films, in books you know the people who have real experience with fighting by the way they write the fight scenes and Steve is a fighter. I love that he brought in a character based on his real life Guru. As a long time fan of Steve's and avid follower of his blog I recognized the character immediately.

I think that is vague enough to not spoil the story but keep the interest there. I've been an admirer of Tananarive and Steven for a long time now, and I have to say I'm an avid fan and supporter of the Tennyson novels. Also, as a writer myself, I'd just like to say to all those writers and aspiring writers out there, especially those who write 'street lit' stories: If you want to learn how to properly tell a story read every single Tennyson Hardwick novel. Casanegra, In The Night of the Heat, and now From Cape Town With Love are a Masters Class in how to weave a tale in written form. That means write/tell a story.

I am greatly impressed and immensely pleased with this novel and can't wait to read it again when it gets it's public release. Oh yes, I WILL be buying this book when it hits the stores. I strongly suggest you do the same. And get the previous two if you haven't read them yet. Each book can stand on it's own, but why should you deprive yourself?


  1. Wow. Thanks, Tarrell. We're so thrilled that you liked it!

  2. Nice review. You make me want to read this. The entire series to date, in fact. Will have to add them to my cart next time. Thanks!