Title: Rhode Island Red

By:  Charlotte Carter

ISBN: 9780593314104

Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra                   


The first book in the Nanette Hayes series introduces us to jazz-loving, street busker Nanette, whose love life leads her into some very hot water.

Nan’s day is not off to a good start. To make matters worse, the busker turns out to have been an undercover cop. And his former partner has taken an immediate and extreme dislike to Nan. When she finds that the dead man stashed a wad of cash in her apartment, cash that could go to help his blind girlfriend, Nan’s desire to do the right thing lands her in trouble.

Soon she’s on the hunt for a legendary saxophone worth its weight in gold. But there are plenty of people who would kill for the priceless instrument, and Nan’s new beau just might be one of them. (Goodreads)


Rhode Island Red by Charlotte Carter is a mystery, infused with LOTS of jazz musician references. The jazz theme was what caught my interest as well as being a mystery. Rhode Island Red was originally published in 1997 and is the first in a series with Nanette Hayes, a young woman trying to make ends meet in New York as the protagonist. 

The story begins with Nanette Hayes playing her saxophone on the sidewalks of New York City. She holds a degree in French with a minor in Music from Wellesley (scholarship all the way).  However, she is not taking in a lot of money, when a smart-mouthed young man starts off by insulting her playing, and then moves on to declaring his (platonic) love for her. He says his name is Sig, and it turns out he’s looking for a place to crash for the night. Against her better judgment Nan agrees to let him stay the night in her apartment. And then it all begins…. With the murder of Sig right in her living room. What’s a girl to do but figure out how and why? There is more than meets the eye to this story and as you read it, you will discover some of the interesting twists and turns (I cannot ruin it for the next reader ☺).

I loved all the musical references, be it specific artists (like Parker, Rollins, Miles, Coltrane, etc. and her personal saviour – Thelonious Monk) to the fact that Nan busked on the street corners in New York.  I must admit – I love her list of artists – some of my favourites as well! 

I also liked Nan’s bestie – Aubrey. And the antagonism between Detective Leman Sweet and Nan did add to my enjoyment of the book. Nan had to work hard to prove herself to the detective. I think one of the passages I liked best was when she was describing Aubrey and herself:

“Aubrey was…well, not smart. Dumb was the blunt, casually cruel work the kids used. Strange how she turned out to be so pulled together. While I tend to be in tatters a good once a day. Where did that child prodigy shit get me?”

Much to my chagrin unfortunately, I did not enjoy the writing style of this book. I just found it did not flow particularly well for me. Additionally, another editing run through might (read would) have been helpful to remove many of the errors I came across. The pace of the book was a tad bit slow for my tastes. I did finish the book as I did enjoy all of the musical references… so much so that I did turn on some jazz while reading ☺

If you like mysteries with a bit of romance with a female protagonist, then Rhode Island Red might just be the book for you. It is a relatively quick read, so nothing ventured, nothing gained. I leave the rest of the books in the series for others to read.