Payola: A Reverend Fountain Mystery
by Gary L. Kreigh
AIA Publishing

"What good is it to discover wrong but do nothing to make it right?"

The setting is New Orleans in the mid-1950s. Reverend Fountain has come to town to spend time with a friend and help at a local homeless shelter. However, the reverend's plans are interrupted when the friend's neighbor, Genny, begins to share a story of woe. She's a nightclub singer with a song that's getting radio play. Instead of making money, though, she's being forced to pay more and more to those who promised her fame and fortune.

Genny's predicament isn't simply a one-off. A payola scheme is uncovered. Multiple performing artists are tricked into signing what they think are legitimate contracts, but the contracts are as bogus as the individuals bribing disc jockeys to play the songs and getting kickbacks to do so. Performers and the public are hoodwinked. The only ones doing well are scam artists. They're doing so well that very violent things start to happen to individuals attempting to get to the bottom of their scheme.

Author Kreigh weaves an intricate plot while adeptly depicting his protagonist's inquisitiveness and altruistic nature. He also doesn't skimp on supporting character development for the reverend's friends or foes, such as the twisted sisters unconcerned about who gets hurt as long as they get theirs, the vengeful victims of the scams, an overworked policeman trying to make sense of it all, and an unsuspecting businessman trying to help but actually making things worse. Kreigh even manages to include a voracious tropical storm that equals the tempest swirling around his cast. This author has chosen to keep his tale engaging without the need for lurid re-enactments of brutality or omnipresent profanity so often found in today's thrillers. In short, one can view Kreigh's novel as an involving, family-friendly mystery.

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