• Dr. Maxine Thompson
  • Review by Fran Lewis of LA Blues 2: Slipping Into Darkness by Dr. Maxine Thompson
Review by Fran Lewis of LA Blues 2: Slipping Into Darkness by Dr. Maxine Thompson
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LA BLUES: SLIPPING INTO DARKNESS DR. MAXINE THOMPSON

Once upon a time in a make-believe world where everyone and everything was perfect, people got along. Every race, creed, nationality put aside their differences and worked together to create peace and harmony rang throughout the world. Within this make-believe world, there were no gangs. The only drugs that were supplied were to cure illnesses. Guns were banned and the streets were safe, even from kids that played practical jokes. In this make-believe world lived a beautiful young woman named Zipporah “Z” Saldano, who lived with her entire family, was loved and cherished by her parents.  did not have a mother who was incarcerated for 20 years, or a brother who was kidnapped, involved in the Crips, sold drugs or owned a massage parlor, dealing in prostitution. In this world, her sisters and brothers lived with her and her parents and she was a decorated police officer whose partner was not killed. But, as we all know, there is no such thing as a make-believe world and even we have to often face the harsh realities of life. as Zipporah snaps out of her revelry, faces the present as she is about to enter, or hopes to enter, the Hollywood Kodak Theater. Invited to the Academy Awards, sitting in a limo with her man, Romero, Z could not be happier. Licensed as a PI and sometimes having to bend the rules, Z felt for the first time life was good. With her main girls, Haviland and Chica, and Haviland’s man, Trevor, Chica’s man, Riley, they were in for a hot time. But, something in the real world would make her wish she was back in the make- believe one as she reminds herself that, in spite of her accomplishments. Reminders of the past bring tears to her eyes as she remembers the murder of Trayvon, Chica’s son. As she sits back in the limo and begins to think, she realizes that family ties are vital, loyalty and blood matters, but, at this time, she never knew just how much. Knowing that her brother was missing, not knowing where he was or why he was taken, Z did not know that the answers were just a wild car ride away. Life hands you a strange deck of cards that you have to learn how to play whatever you are dealt. One phone call received by Romero, one instant move that Z makes to alight from the limo and two lives are changed. Talking for a few minutes, expressing their feelings, Z did not realize that this would be a strong turning point in both of their lives. Recounting her relationship with Haviland, her need for medical marijuana, and her excitement about going to the after party, she stepped over the media section. She thought about her mother, Venita, as she did not want to become involved in his kidnapping. But, circumstances would change that and Z would have to make some quick, fast and difficult choices as two “Federal Agents,” shoved her in the back of their car, took her to a deserted location and the interrogation began. But why?

Standing up for her rights, not backing down, she learns what they are telling her about her brother. The threats are there, the information could be fabricated, trying to convince her that her brother sold out other OGs. They claim they gave Mayhem money to complete a deal for them. Thinking Z knows where the money is, they threaten, coerce and manhandle her. Within this scene, you can hear her voice and thoughts loud and clear, understand her frustration and the need to learn the truth. But whose truth and who can be trusted? Sober for two years, her youngest siblings somewhere out there, Z made a decision that might cost her more than just her new career. Back at the theater, her friends are frantic. Z begins to think over her options, deciding whether to trust Romero or to go it alone. One phone call would alert her to the truth behind her brother’s disappearance. A voice on the phone and the events that follow will send Z on a downhill collision with gang members, her real mother, Shirley, the only mother who took care of her and a family so mixed up in trouble how could she not help them. First, she needed information from her mom, Venita, and prayed that she would step up to the plate. Just what did her brother request of her on the phone before he was cut off? What threats were made against his family? With Shirley’s guidance and understanding Z just might find her way before it’s too late. Within the novel, author Maxine Thompson, brilliantly reminds us that every family needs love and understanding and that when one member is ill, in this case, the foster father, Chill, has dementia- soon- to- become Alzheimer’s, children need to understand the illness, care for the person and know that they will always be that person, even if their mind is slowly disappearing. Searching for Tank who was to have the answers she needed, no one seemed to know where Mayhem might be. Gang wars, followed by thugs and constantly harassed by the two “Feds”, Z found her way into the grimy streets, the back alleys, the underbelly of town to search for Tank to save her brother. The author’s descriptions of the places she went to, the streets, the gang members, the outfits worn by the men and the prostitutes doing pole dances in some of the clubs she visited, allow readers to know the extensive research into the areas, the real life of so many caught up in this climate, and their hope of escaping to find The American Dream. But false hopes run high as Z learns that her fate is to find and hide Mayhem’s children, go to Brazil,  locate his common-lawwife and a man named Diablo, who is at the core of it all.

Living in an atmosphere where drug dealers would sell their own souls or that of their children for a score and not hesitate to kill anyone that stands in their way, Z finds herself a mission to locate her brother’s children, bring them to her mother and pray for their safety. Enter the jungle; find F-Loc, hoping that he might enlighten her. What she learns will not surprise the reader or Z but solidify just why her brother might have been taken. Just what was hiswife’s role and why was she sent to act as a mule? What is the deal on the street from a crime family in Brazil? Just what should she do and why won’t she call Romero? What is his connection?

Choices can make or break our lives and as Z began to rethink what she needed to do regarding her brother’s kidnapping, why did she continue to hesitate about calling Romero? Family loyalty, distrust, fear and blood being thicker than water led Z on the path she had to take. Leaving on bad terms with Romero after a night that was supposed to be special, finding her way to a club watching the dangers and hoping to talk with the bartender, Z’s role became clear. Searching for Tank and then another named Bonzo, speaking to someone named Chutney, Z got more than her fill about her brother. But, just where he was and who had him and why has yet to be revealed.

Prostitution, threats made to warn her to stop, remembering Trayvon and hoping to catch his killer, and Fed Ex package that would turn things around but not the way you think. What was delivered and how would this change things? What would she do with the contents and would the end result come back and haunt her?

From going to the Academy Awards to two Federal agents on her tail, Mayhem’s call on Skype and the information from Tank, getting her nephews and bringing them to Venita, the info from F-Loc, the tattoo shop and the massage parlor and then getting strong armed by one of Bonzo’s lackeys, Z needed to sit down and think about what comes next. Where was Appolonia, Mayhem’s wife? What was her link to the dangerous drug lord Diablo?

From Rio to  to the streets of the inner city of Los Angeles, author Maxine Thompson gives readers a firsthand look at how people live in areas that are riddled with crime, where the only noise outside is that of gunshots, not children playing, and the music you hear does not come from a CD.

Spending her life in foster care, guilt ridden and blaming herself for her family’s plight and their disconnect, Z needs to find a way to not only reconcile her differences within herself, rid her life of guilt, deal with the abandonment issue and remain sober. Sexual relationships, watching her father die as her  mother’s boyfriend kills him, wanting to take revenge of the killings, the racial strife and the street wars author Maxine Thompson reminds readers of what so many are still struggling with today. How can Z live and fight the anger, the fear within the streets of Watts. and yet discount the help she could receive from the one man who really loves her? But, something will cause her to snap and the end result will force her to make a decision that will impact her life forever.

Hoping to find Appolonia, dealing with a dying parent and the end result will send shockwaves down your spine. Santeria: a woman quite powerful, ageless and possibly her salvation as she takes Z within the world of Diablo, explains a curse that was placed on both her and Appolonia and a necklace or amulet that would protect her from harm. Would Appolonia agree to come with her to say a final farewell to her dying mother? Would she give up her life with this drug lord or will she stand by her family and fight for her kids? What happens when Z is once again taken captive, forced into submission and finds her only way out might not be what her moral compass would want? Go inside the den of this man, listen to his rants and his desires, and you the reader decide if what happens next to Z is her fault? A truth and deceit revealed and the rationale behind the kidnapping you won’t believe as one woman fights for her brother’s life and another makes a startling choice.

The final decent back to LAX. Two Federal agents that claim that have the power to teak her down and one young woman that will fight until the very end. Just where do they take her and who are they really? What happens when the final shots are fired? Who lives? Who dies and who takes a fall and slips into total darkness? LA Blues 2: the story is just getting started and the ending will inspire you to pick up, as I am doing LA Blues 3 to find out what is next in store for Z. Enter her world, fight her battles along side of her, and learn just how far this young woman will go to protect her family. Blood is thicker than water! Remember that always! Family First! Sometimes we wish we all lived in that make believe world! Fran Lewis: Reviewer

Filed under:           Books •  Crips •  Death and dying •  Foster Care •  Foster Care System •  Gangs

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