No Time to Die

No Time to Die

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by Grace F. Edwards

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A serial killer stalks Harlem's Strivers' Row...

On a sweltering Harlem summer night, ex-cop Mali Anderson steps out to celebrate her friend Claudine's divorce from a handsome, cheating deadbeat who couldn't keep his fists out of her face. But Claudine doesn't show up for their dinner. Instead, she is found brutally murdered in her elegant home just off


A serial killer stalks Harlem's Strivers' Row...

On a sweltering Harlem summer night, ex-cop Mali Anderson steps out to celebrate her friend Claudine's divorce from a handsome, cheating deadbeat who couldn't keep his fists out of her face. But Claudine doesn't show up for their dinner. Instead, she is found brutally murdered in her elegant home just off Strivers' Row, and Mali has no doubt Claudine's ex did it. Despite his threats, she can't keep out of the investigation. Especially when another woman meets the same savage, bizarre fate....

The two murders are just the start of a trail that leads street-smart Mali through the trash-talking and wise philosophizing of barbershops, beauty parlors, and bars...and toward a cunning killer whose homegrown hatred is zeroing in on Mali herself.

From the Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Chicago Tribune
Excellent...Edwards expertly creates characters who leap to instant, long-remembered life.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Mali Anderson, formerly of the NYPD, finds herself investigating a murder close to home when a longtime friend is the victim of a brutal slaying in Harlem. Mali believes that her friend Claudine has been murdered by Claudine's abusive ex-husband, James Thomas, whom Mali has always mistrusted. Despite the doubts of Mali's police detective boyfriend, Tad Honeywell, Mali's suspicion is reinforced when a second victim, also linked to James, is killed in the same manner (strangulation with piano wire). Or is a sadistic serial killer on the loose in Harlem? When Mali is sent to the hospital after someone tries to run her down, she vows to solve the case. Edwards's supporting cast, which includes Mali's jazz musician father, fleshes out the story, which is told in a mixed first- and third-person narration, in the manner of James Patterson's Alex Cross novels. Many of the scenes are set in the restaurants and nightclubs of modern-day Harlem, brought vividly to life. Weakening the tale is the sad but stereotypical background of the murderer and an easily foreseen ending. The intriguing look offered inside its unusual locale makes this mystery, third in the series (after A Toast Before Dying), worth reading despite its predictability. (June) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Jettisoning the mystery that was the weakest part of A Toast Before Dying (1998), Edwards returns to Harlem a third time to set Mali Anderson against a serial killer. The case begins, at least for Mali, when her late sister Benin's friend, high-school teacher Claudine Hastings, fails to show up for a dinner date with Mali and Elizabeth Jackson, the lawyer friend handling Mali's lawsuit against the city for tossing her off the NYPD. The late Claudine has been strangled with piano wire, then left with breakfast cereal sprinkled over her body. The obvious suspect is her soon-to-be-ex James Thomas, who beat her for the first year of their marriage and has lived apart from her for years two and three. And when James's ex-girlfriend, postal clerk Marie Taylor, escapes his abuse via a similar length of piano wire, Mali's ex-colleagues are hot to track him down. But he tracks Mali down instead, flattening her in a hit-and-run that leads ultimately to a bloody showdown, but does nothing to stop the killings. If the murderer wasn't James, muses Mali, why did the victims trust him enough to let them into their apartments? It's a good question, but one every reader has known the answer to since the opening chapter: because he's a misfit grocery deliveryman whose horrific background has made him kill before and won't let him quit till he goes after Mali. By-the-numbers plotting and unmemorable characters take the edge off this middlebrow tour of Harlem.

From the Publisher
"Remarkable for its richly rendered portraits and cityscapes."
Booknews from The Poisoned Pen

"What Grace Edwards does so to root us firmly and quickly in her Harlem setting."
Chicago Tribune

"The plot will keep you turning pages, but it's the portrait of Harlem that will keep the book in your mind long after you reach the end."
The Purloined Letter

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Random House Publishing Group
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Read an Excerpt

I rested my arms on the window and glanced out at a late afternoon sky that resembled rusted steel. Threatening clouds had been hanging low for three days now and so far the weatherman had not earned his keep.

The Saturday crowd moving along 125th Street probably had as little faith in the forecast as I and went about business as usual, ignoring the heat and the haze.

I sneaked another glance at my watch and wondered how long Elizabeth was going to wait. It was nearly 6:30.

"Claudine should've been here by now," I said, trying but failing to hide my impatience. "As long as we've known her, she's always been late, but this is something special."

I was annoyed because we three had arranged a week ago to go out to dinner to celebrate her impending liberation. I knew James Thomas, her soon-to-be ex, and I had detested him from the day we confronted each other three years ago at their wedding reception.

Now I pictured his smooth face and silky soft voice and felt a fleeting panic, imagining that he might have talked Claudine into changing her mind about the divorce, that he would get a job again, stop drinking, stop blaming and beating her for what he imagined the world was doing to him.

I turned from the window and faced into the office to watch Elizabeth lean back in her chair, an old swivel model of glossy dark walnut and vintage leather upholstery. The chair had belonged to her father when he'd had his own law practice uptown over the old Smalls Paradise next door to the Poro School of Beauty Culture. That was years ago. Elizabeth's office was smaller, and probably a lot more expensive. Space on 125th Street near the Apollo didn't come cheap.

The coil beneath the chair squeaked as she leaned forward. She pushed her cascade of brown dreadlocks away from her face and folded her arms on the desk.

"Calm down, Mali. I don't know if you're annoyed because Claudine's late or because of the advice I just offered you. We can discuss this another time if you'd like. I only want you to understand that if you have to attend another hearing, you may very well lose the case. There's a new police commissioner on the job; the city claims it's trying to save money, and the cop--the principal in your lawsuit--is now dead. The department's offering you reinstatement and a possible promotion for helping break that drug ring."

I listened and allowed her voice to trail into a familiar silence before I answered. As an attorney, Elizabeth Jackson had a very good reputation and a practice lucrative enough to afford a four-story brownstone near Marcus Garvey Park. My dad knew her father and she and I had gone to school together. She went into law and I opted for social work--except I'd taken a short detour into the NYPD and gotten fired for punching out a racist cop.

When I answered, it was the same reply she'd heard since taking the case.

"Possible promotion? Possible? Sounds like a word game to me. That's not the best they can do and they know it. I'm not backing down and I'm not compromising. You know as well as I that I have no intention of rejoining the department."

I watched her shrug. "I can understand that. Why you joined in the first place will always be a mystery to me."

She caught my stare and quickly said, "Okay, I'm just letting you know what the situation is; what you stand to lose."

"I'll take the chance," I said, and turned to look out of the window again.

I'd planned to enter the social work doctoral program at NYU. To hell with rejoining NYPD. Just show me Mr. Benjamin Franklin and all of his brothers. They'll help with my tuition.

I gazed at the Apollo's marquee, which hung like a dark outcropping over the crowd moving below. The theater was once known as Hurtig and Seaman's Music Hall, a vaudeville house catering to white audiences. It reopened in 1934 as a showcase for black entertainment, and the new owners renamed it the Apollo. Benny Carter's band played the opening, Ralph Cooper was the M.C., and there were sixteen dancers called the Hot Steppers.

My father, a self-named Harlem historian as well as a jazz musician, tells me this stuff. He remembers a lot and spends his free time entertaining me with information he says I should have if I'm to be an authentic Harlemite. I thought I was authentic enough, having been born thirty-two years ago in Harlem Hospital and raised on Strivers' Row.

In addition to the big bands that played the Apollo, Dad also loved the comedy of Moms Mabley, Pigmeat ("Here Comes the Judge") Markham, and early Redd Foxx, who later sanitized his act for TV. Ella Fitzgerald got her start here, winning the Amateur Hour with "A-Tisket, A-Tasket," a song someone advised her not to sing because "it didn't have enough rhythm for black folks."

I turned away from the marquee and stared down the street, looking for Claudine in the crowd. The thoroughfare was clogged with the end-of-day confusion of buses and cars. I did not spot her familiar face and I glanced at my watch again. Nearly seven o'clock. Two hours overdue. Elizabeth had left three messages on Claudine's machine.

"When did you last speak to her?" I asked.

"Few days ago. To confirm dinner."

"I think we should head on up to her place," I sighed. "See what's going on."

From the Paperback edition.

Meet the Author

Grace F. Edwards was born and raised in Harlem and now lives in Brooklyn. Her previous novels are In the Shadow of the Peacock and two Mali Anderson mysteries, If I Should Die and A Toast Before Dying.

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No Time to Die 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. All of the books in this series are great. I love this character who is a strong african americam woman with a lot of spunk who lives with her father and they are raising her sisters son, because she died while on vacation with her husband. Mali's boyfriend is a detective and they have a very good relationship. There are a lot of great characters in this book. I highly recommend this book. Make sure to read all four books.