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This is cultural historical fiction as well as mystery thriller. (Normally thrillers are too stressful, and a couple of times I've had to take a break, even to stretching out time between purchases, but this particular story seemed sterling for me.) A favorite combination is a good writer whose characters and lives grow on you and through the series. I'm amazed at Kris Nelscott, the name one of several noms des plumes. If she is the face of modern feminism, I am particularly impressed. She can make the hatred, crime, despair and destruction seem so alive, but leave you almost inspired by how the characters handle their challenges. She has created a virtuous man, Smoky Dalton aka Bill Grimshaw, who lives by his own intuition, and is tough enough to make survival, moral decisions in a very limited, dangerous milieu, which is Chicago in the 60's where blackness had splintered into not only the extreme disadvantaged poor, the criminal poor, the middle and slowly burgeoning professional class, but also the Panthers, and two other militant street groups. (This story seems so coherent and tightly woven, I stayed glued longer than usual.) It opens dramatically with a cousin of his beautiful neighbor, barely heard behind a locked door, calling for help. Smoky and his white girlfriend are returning from a charity event, and do everything, including knocking down the door, and rushing to the hospital in the leather seated Mercedes to help this poor woman, who appears to be hemorrhaging from a possible abortion. Nothing seems to go right when they get her to the hospital and have to fight to get her help. The story weaves in current attitudes toward black women, her neighbor, her ex-husband , and her family,all of whom are intertwined in some way with this tragedy but each story of which is revealed in a timely, understandable way. I love not getting mixed up by who is whom. (Kris even has Smokey call (in his thoughts) some dangerous characters Goatee, Glasses, Punk, Bass Voice, so you aren't overwhelmed by new characters whom you will know only a short while.) She answers all questions, and ties up all threads by the end of the story. This could only have evolved out of all that had gone before, including that Smokey and his "adopted" son who witnessed the true murderer of MLK Jr.,had to leave Birmingham and do their best to survive in an inimical environment for black people, wherever they might go.
The narrator, a really cute black guy, does an engaging and appropriately emotive job. You really get involved.