CHARLES SHEA LeMONE – A Dance in the Street. Avon, paperback original; 1st printing, March 1993.

   This rough, untamed and rather disjointed PI novel is the only entry for the author in Al Hubin’s Crime Fiction IV, but a little searching online reveals that Charles Shea LeMone was no one-shot mystery writer who had one bow in the sun and moved on.

   According to his homepage, his 2009 novel Corner Pride was “a semi-autobiographic story about ‘growing up on the most dangerous block in North Philadelphia. It was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and is being read in high school and college classes.”

   Not bad for a PI paperback writer, no matter who it may be. The private eye in question is Solomon Priester, whose primary occupation is that of taxi driver, and whose adventure in A Dance in the Street takes him to all the high and low spots in Los Angeles, naming off streets and locales very familiar to anyone who’s visited or lived in that huge, almost living city of neon lights, dark streets and twisting hilltop roads.

   Given Priester’s unclipped Rastafarian locks, first mentioned on page two, it is easy to surmise that he is black, as is the author, the latter confirmed only by his photo on his web page. When Priester picks up a young girl on a rainy night on Sunset Boulevard, obviously in trouble, and she asks him to take her to the Valley, he does not know but seems to sense that she will be dead the next day, and he will have been the last person to have seen her alive.

   At best, to me this was no more than a mediocre detective story. The writing is more than acceptable, perhaps even fine at times, but I found the rhythm was off, the dialogue only words people were saying, with no life to them. Add in the New Age-y girl friend Priester finds along the way, his personal back story, the over-the-top trouble he gets into with the cops, and nothing really works.

   There are gaps in the continuity and two major characters, unrelated, have the same last name, suggesting that a better editor could have been useful. (One of the two seems to disappear completely two-thirds of the way through.) I also am not very interested when the top villain in a PI novel is called the Dwarf.

   You may find yourself more in sync with this one than I did, but as you can probably tell — and I am sorry to say — I wasn’t.