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Mojo Hand: 01/25/09
I read Mojo Hand by Greg Kihn based on my enjoyment of Shade of Pale. It had a cool sounding premise: Beau Young, now playing the blues with Oakland Slim discovers a voodoo plot to kill off the remaining blues masters. As it turns out, the novel is the sequel to Big Rock Beat (which I haven't read).
One thing the book excels at is its blues geekery. Greg Kihn's rock background pays off. He knows music and he clearly loves the blues. I'm a fan of the blues but obviously not as much as Kihn. I had to stop a few times to Google details mentioned in the book for historical context.
Like Shade of Pale, the book assumes that magic work. In this case, voodoo. The mojo hand of the title is shriveled remains of a hand that has a life of its own. One of the things it can do is help the bearer absorb all the musical skills of the person it has killed. The vacuuming up of all this blues talent is the reason behind the murders.
The most entertaining piece of the novel, and one I wish Kihn had developed more that of Robert Johnson, living out his life in San Lorenzo. Robert Johnson is the Delta blues guitarist who supposedly sold his soul to the devil to further his musical skills. Johnson died August 16, 1938 but Kihn has a voodoo story that gives him an out from that death. It was really fun to see events play out as Johnson is convinced to do a come back album and tour in 1977!
Greg Kihn provides enough information for Mojo Hand to stand alone as a horror / comedy novel. All the characters, their back stories and other relevant plot information is provided in a timely manner. Beau Young touring with Oakland Slim and proving himself as a blues musician, the murders and their aftermath and the man with the mojo hand feel like three separate novels until near the end of the book. I wanted to see the threads come together quicker. My misgivings with the book have nothing to do with its status as a sequel. What's missing here is the edgy humor and tight pacing that Shade of Pale has.