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Expired by Erie Rhodes Dafina Books, February 2005 $14, ISBN-0-758-20870-7

Evie Rhodes, an award-winning gospel songwriter, has produced a thriller that brings speculative fiction out from the concrete jungle.

In her debut novel, we meet Tracie Burlingame, a prosperous Harlem salon owner who is not a nice lady. Tracie's comfy world gets flipped when her youngest teenage son is thrown from a rooftop building. Worse yet, when he is examined at the morgue, his body is drained of blood.

As the New York detectives begin to investigate, they are unaware that Tracie herself is being stalked by an inhuman being sent from a hellish underworld to collect the talents and gifts of the Harlem residents, including Tracie's own family.

Rhodes is masterful in her webbing of metaphors and Afro-futuristic, street-supernatural storytelling. An overextended use of cliches and straightforward writing style can almost be forgiven because what Rhodes does wonderfully is thrill her readers.

Although some of the characters seem a little underdeveloped and static, Rhodes is able to skillfully write an original, chilling story with an excellent, slow pacing that will leave her readers looking over their shoulders first, then bring them to their knees in prayer.

Arphelia K. Cabell is a freelance writer living in Baltimore, Maryland. She is writing her first novel for young adults.
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Author:Cabell, Arphelia K.
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2005
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