I had a long travel day today; fortunately, I had some really good reading to keep me occupied and not stressed out about crazed travelers, crowded airports, and flight delays. Murder on the Down Low by Pamela Samuels Young is set in Los Angeles. There are two main story lines: one is a murder mystery in which prominent black men who are on the down low are being murdered. The second is how three friends are mourning the loss of their friend Maya. She was infected with HIV by her fiance who was having sex with men. The story lines do intersect and I do not want to give anything away. At several points, I thought that I had figured out who was committing the murders; however, my jaw dropped at the end of the book.
Since I was exhausted from coming off of a tough semester, I really appreciated the short chapters. Each one was focused on a different character. I think this helped to move the plot along and illustrate the complexity of sexuality. While the storyline itself was very compelling, I also appreciated everything I learned about the spread of HIV in the black community. Through different characters, I learned more about viewpoints and prejudice within the black community (and society in general) towards homosexuality and sexuality in general. I think the book provided a lot of good education on the importance of practicing safe sex and not marginalizing one specific population. I also appreciated how the issue of Christianity was dealt with in the book; specifically Christianity and sex and Christianity and homosexuality. Two of the main characters were lawyers and I loved their integrity and drive. The book also explored some issues of sexism in the workplace and the struggle to balance home and career.
I look forward to reading more books by this author. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a good mystery and learn a lot about an important social issue.