Having read Karyn Langhorne’s debut novel, A Personal Matter, I was on pins and needles waiting to read Street Level, her second book. The two books could not be more different, however. This is not a bad thing. Ms. Langhorne remained true to her talent and wrote a well-developed, character-driven book. The author is an excellent writer and there was not much with which to find fault.
I did find some of the plot elements a little difficult to believe, however. This was not an insurmountable obstacle because I still enjoyed the book. Thea Morris is a woman who grew up on the mean side of Washington D.C. She has had a tough life and found herself in almost impossibly horrible situations, but she still managed to survive. Never mind the fact that she testified against her drug dealing, gang-running, abusive boyfriend to do it. The point is she did it.
Thea did a little more than survive, but just a little. She has what some might call the second sight. She can see things before they happen, but they are not always as clear as she needs them to be, so she’s not always able to help or change the situation. Her preternatural talent has enabled her to go into the psychic business with her best friend. Ghetto Psychics is doing pretty well and Thea, her friend and her friend’s son share a house right on the outskirts of the mean streets where Thea’s ex-boyfriend ran his gang and committed his crimes.
Thea tries to use her gift to really help others. This is what she’s attempting to do when she runs into a man who will change her life forever. The stranger, Guy, has the same sight that Thea has, but he is not who he seems. The two of them become embroiled in a world of danger, corporate conspiracy, guns and gangland violence that has them running for their lives. And this happens because Thea’s ex has been let out of prison on early parole. He’d told her before being sent to jail that he would kill her and she believed him. Now he’s out of prison and she’s running for her life and at the same time trying to save her best friend’s son, whom she’s loved his entire life. Guy is also more involved than we know and than he will tell Thea and this is frustrating for both the reader and Thea. Because he is constantly trying to save her, though, she grudgingly starts to trust him.
There area lot of twists, turns and downright shocking surprises in this novel that will leave the reader’s head reeling. The romance between Guy and Thea develops slowly, and his fallen, dark hero with issues persona is one that takes a while to adapt to and even like, but it grows on you. Perhaps I didn’t enjoy this novel as much as Ms. Langhorne’s first one, but it is still an excellent, entertaining read.