The Lost Treasures of R & B – Nelson George

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

“They were both Golden Gloves boxers and had that good foot work. They both did splits. Weren’t afraid to get on the floor. Not spinning like hip hoppers but they would get on their knees to sell a song…That man could get on his knees in his suit and bend backward like he was doing the limbo. Could limbo like that Harry Belafonte.”

Did Jackie Wilson do it better than James Brown? As a huge R&B fan, when I ran across the title, The Lost Treasures of R & B, I just had to read it…and I’m glad I did.

D Hunter, who ran a successful security service, found work to be slow, with no upturn in sight. Both current and retired police officers were taking private security jobs to supplement their incomes. This forced D to move back to his old neighborhood in East Brooklyn. “Brooklyn was a place of your roots but not your future, unless you planned on being a cop, crook, civil servant, or candy store owner.”


D was told the story of a recording session that produced a single by an unlikely pair: Stax recording artist, Otis Redding and Motown’s Diana Ross. His friend was going to be paid a handsome sum to find this lost record, but knew that D would have better luck.

Earlier however, D did get a job to meet  a popular local MC, at Brooklyn B-Girl Fight Club and make sure he got to JFK safely to board a flight to Europe. However, things didn’t go as planned and D found himself in lots of trouble with  cops and gangsters alike.

The Lost Treasures of R & B, where old school R&B meets the hip hop generation, doesn’t just refer to a lost record, but also the loss of self-respect. It also explores modern day problems of the inner city–crime, poverty, corruption, and even gentrification– as it takes us through a mystery where you don’t know who you can trust.  Music fans will remember from “cameo appearances”, the names of those so instrumental in the ’60s Memphis sound such as the late record producer Jerry Wexler and Stax guitarist Steve Cropper.

Yes, this novel will appeal to a niche audience, like me, a fan of R&B music. However fans of crime novels might find The Lost Treasures of R & B, engrossing also. Most importantly, it shows some hope for the future.


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