BLACK HISTORY MONTH BOOK REVIEW #2

14290517_121006023000The Man in 3B
by Carl Weber
Review by John F. Allen

What do you get when you combine popular 80’s sitcom, 227, Desperate Housewives and Boyz ‘n the Hood, with a splash of Clue? You get more than what you bargained for, which is more than your average Urban Lit novel. That’s what you’ll find in Carl Weber’s The Man in 3B!

When Daryl Graham aka The Man in 3B moves into a Jamaica Queens apartment building, all the females lose their minds and the men become jealous lunatics. Apparently this brother is finer than wine, all that and a bag of chips and the cat’s meow, with all the women—from eighteen to eighty, married and single—wanting to claim the title of Pussy Galore. He’s also everything every brother wants to be with a charisma that they will never possess.

Many of the female residents are in dysfunctional and broken relationships and see Daryl Graham as Doctor Feel Good/Mister Big Stuff, the cure for what ails them and just the right prescription to fill their empty lives with HOT SEX!

The front stoop of this New York walkup is gossip central, where mostly all of the building’s female residents congregate to chinwag about the latest, greatest dirt going on in and around the building. They also stake out the entrance for any chance to catch a glimpse of Daryl, whom they all have professed a burning desire to sleep with. Because of this, he is quickly welcomed into the building with much more than friendly neighbor affection, weaving his way into each of the tenants’ lives.

Enter Connie, the overweight and sexually frustrated wife of Avery Mack, a down on his luck former mortgage broker whose disgust in Connie’s appearance is readily apparent and quite mean-spirited. A chance encounter leads to Daryl offering to help Connie in her mission to lose weight and possibly save her disintegrating marriage. However, Daryl’s charisma is not lost on Connie and his flirtations begin to make her feel attractive, appreciated and more confident than she’s felt in years.

Enter Avery, whose disgust and lack of sensitivity to his wife leads him to ask for a divorce. He is plunged into a further downward spiral when he gets in over his head with a bad element. Avery’s only concern is to reclaim the luxurious lifestyle he once had and he’s determined to achieve that goal by any means necessary. Despite his contempt for Connie, he becomes jealous of Daryl for showing interest in her and for how she’s decided to take control of her life and move on without him.

Enter Benny, a smart, shy and sheltered young man who strikes up an unlikely friendship with Daryl and begins to look up to him as a role model, much to the dismay of Benny’s father, Ben—a local firefighter and resident “Histress,” to the ladies of the building. When their time together becomes more frequent and Benny approaches his twenty-first birthday, he begins to reevaluate his life and his identity as an adult.

Enter Krystal, Daryl’s first love, who calls him back into her life for sexual escapades after years apart. While Daryl wants to be in a serious relationship, Krystal only wants to have fun. What she doesn’t tell Daryl is that she’s involved with another man who she has no intentions of leaving. Krystal abruptly leaves Daryl hanging when her current boyfriend proposes and unwittingly ends up moving into the same building where Daryl lives. She tries to use this situation to her advantage as she wants Daryl to continue ringing her bell, yet also make things work with her fiancé, but Daryl’s not having any of that and sends her packing.

Everything is hunky dory until someone is murdered…

Everyone becomes a prime suspect as many of the residents have means, opportunity and motive. This throws everyone into a tizzy and deepens the mystery that surrounds exactly who Daryl Graham really is and what about him brings out such passionate emotions in those who encounter him.

The plot of this novel is tightly wound and while Daryl serves as the nexus to the other characters, Weber is able to give each and every one a unique and distinctive voice. The transition from Urban lit to Whodunit is masterful and I applaud Weber’s ability as a writer to pull it off. I was so invested in the discovery of what happened next, I almost forgot at times it wasn’t a Walter Mosley mystery novel I was reading. Where’s Socrates Fortlow when you need him?

The mystery surrounding Daryl Graham and how his presence and influence has affected everyone in the building are just some of the reasons you’ll want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next.

The Man in 3B is filled with interesting, dysfunctional characters with plenty enough personality to keep the reader intrigued and invested from start to finish.

I’ve been a fan of Carl’s work from his first novel, “Lookin’ for Luv.” He has failed to disappoint me with his writing and I encourage you to take a look at each and every one of his novels.

But if you want to know all the juicy details and the fate of these well-developed characters in The Man in 3B, you’ll have to read the book!

STAY TUNED! Next week I review “The Warmth of Other Suns,” by Isabel Wilkerson!!!

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