Nelson George, . . Touchstone, $13 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-3552-5

Emmy-winning TV producer George examines the ambition, deception, corruption and pervasive drug culture that lurk on the underside of the music world in this noirish thriller, which opens with the kidnapping of pop singer Night, the protagonist of George's Night Work (2003). D Hunter, the moody head of a security firm, gets hired to deliver the ransom for Night and provide bodyguards for hot pop singer Bridgette Haze, a sexy blonde trying to crash the mainly black urban music world by hosting a hip-hop awards ceremony in New York. Meanwhile, D must keep his unruly security staff in line; navigate his relationship with Emily Anekwe, his British-Nigerian girlfriend who runs a popular downtown club; and protect Bridgette and himself from threats by a mysterious motorcycle gang. Handsome, powerful, contemplative, with both of his brothers murdered and his father long gone, D struggles to accept his mother's remarriage and his own HIV positive diagnosis. This fast-paced book is written with a syncopation that parallels its setting, but the many subplots and large cast of characters, although well developed, weigh it down. Agent, David Robie at Big Score Productions. (Feb. 2)

Forecast: George is also the author of The Death of Rhythm and Blues and Hip Hop America, both nominees for National Book Critics Circle Awards. He'd make an excellent interview subject, if S&S makes the effort to tour him.