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The Edge

September 21, 2009

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‘Evidence of Murder’ (Books)

When Jillian Perry, wife of a wealthy video game creator and mother of a little girl, is found dead in the bitterly cold woods near Cleveland, the police dismiss the death as a suicide.

Medical examiner Theresa MacLean isn’t so sure, and the more she pokes into the case, the more she suspects that Jillian was murdered.

MacLean’s boss keeps pressing her to close the case and turn her attention to other bodies piling up in the medical examiner’s office. But Theresa, still reeling from the death of her fiance in “Takeover,” the first book in this new series, can’t let it go.

Her investigation grows urgent when, as she keeps digging, she becomes convinced that Jillian’s killer is about to strike again.

With “Evidence of Murder,” Lisa Black demonstrates an ability to create memorable characters and to fashion a suspenseful, well-structured plot. And her expertise — she is a forensic scientist herself — shows in her handling of the technical aspects of the case.

Jay-Z (CD)

After 11 studio albums, 13 years, dozens of hits and untold millions of records sold, there’s not much left to debate about Jay-Z. He has either outlasted, outsold or outsmarted all the competition. You either like his music or you don’t. So the only comparisons that can be made are to himself.

That said, Jay’s new “The Blueprint 3” is on par with his past work. The beats are the best money can buy, from Kanye West, Timbaland, Pharrell, Swizz Beats and others. The lyrics are creative, imperial and evocative — “the audio equivalent of Braille,” in Jay’s words. Overall, it’s a state-of-the-art performance by arguably the greatest to ever speak ghetto poems over music.

Then why does it feel like something’s missing?

More than any other modern genre, rap is built on struggle. On “Blueprint 3,” it seems that Jay’s only problem, other than where to land his private jet, is those pesky haters. And since he spends so much time reminding us that “my track record speaks for itself / I’m so instrumental,” even the naysayers seem like leftover specks from the 2003.

Living Colour (CD)

Living Colour chose a location near Prague to record its first studio album in five years, yet decided against including any Czech folk or Dvorak covers on “The Chair in the Doorway.”

That’s a surprise, because as hard-rock bands go, Living Colour has always displayed an unusual ability to mix many influences. The musical blender is at work again on “Doorway,” an album that rivals the NYC quartet’s seminal early work two decades ago.

Living Colour snarls like Metallica on “Out Of Mind,” wallows in Seattle sludge on “DecaDance” and does a flashback on “Not Tomorrow,” which would fit — and stand out — on the Woodstock soundtrack.

An unlisted 12th track with unprintable lyrics is hilarious R-rated power pop unlike anything the band has done before, and there are the more familiar references to R&B, especially on “Young Man” and “Bless Those.” Corey Glover emits a mighty roar throughout, and the only problem with Vernon Reid’s guitar solos is there aren’t more. Bet he could do wonders with Dvorak’s Ninth Symphony.

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