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Debut novelist Silber delivers a captivating downhill ride through the alleys and clubs of LA's 1948 bebop scene, crafting a fascinating antihero who will do just about anything to keep his fingers on the ivories. At first, Jewish musician Louis Greenberg seems downright courageous, using his charm and piano skills to earn a place in the black jazz clubs of Watts; he's even pursuing an impossible love affair with a beautiful black regular, Beatrice. But soon it becomes apparent that his outsider status is deserved: his day job is swindling war widows out of their money, using the memories of their departed husbands as bait. So certain are Greenberg's future heartaches-especially with Beatrice-and so profound is his love for jazz, it's hard not to root for him, even as he draws an especially vulnerable widow into his web. Though gripping, the narrative's pulp fiction overtones come across as more slapstick than hardboiled ("But here was this woman throwing me for more loops than a ride at Coney Island"), and his worshipful description of the music can be woefully shallow. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.