Following street lit sensation Candy Licker, Noire returns to gangsta Harlem to tell the tale of Andre "Thug-a-Licious" Williams, a "Dawg-4-Lyfe" whose death is announced in the preface and whose life unfurls in a series of dark, stop-start flashbacks. At the time of his death, Dre, or Thug, was, improbably, "the baddest NBA rookie in the league," who was, at the same time, a rapper with a "club-banging album with triple platinum potential." Noire doesn't show us much of Thug's practice on the court or time in the studio (though a number of his rhymes are strewn through the narrative): the action is concentrated on his dick (which is big) and his exploits (nine children by nine different mothers by page 257, along with herpes). Through it all, Dre loves Carmiesha "Muddah" Vernoy, with whom he's hoping to settle down. He shields her from his criminal activity with cousins Pimp and Smoove (Carl and Todd Williams). It's Pimp who does the worst of it, and who also does time in jail while Thug accepts a basketball scholarship to Syracuse. Meanwhile, Muddah, who has gone to college and started her own beauty salon, Locks of Love, is keeping a secret that will eventually catch up with her and with Thug. The plot sputters, and the lives of all concerned are unrelentingly grim, but the sex really is hot. (On sale Aug. 29) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.