DAYS OF RAGE, Kris Nelscott's sixth Smokey Dalton mystery, provides
the reader with a story full of hidden secrets and discovery.
African-American PI Smokey Dalton and his adopted son Jimmy are
back in Chicago again. It is 1969 and the city is humming with the
buzz over the trial of the Chicago Eight, charged with inciting the
riot at the '68 Democratic National Convention. Smokey and Jimmy
have their own secret. Jimmy witnessed the assassination of Martin
Luther King, Jr. in Memphis, and Smokey has vowed to protect him.
To keep Jimmy safe, Smokey is operating as a building inspector
under an assumed name.
Laura Hathaway is battling the corporate world in her new role as
Sturdy Investments CEO. Now that Laura has taken over for her
deceased father, will the old men who worked for him try to
undermine her position? Yes. Laura begins looking into Sturdy's
long history of illegal business practices, and her path crosses
with Smokey again when she hires him to inspect a building that she
now owns. With Smokey back in Chicago, will their on-again
off-again relationship be on again?
As Smokey goes through the building to look at repairs and
maintenance, he comes across a suspicious wall in the basement. He
investigates and finds the remains of one body, and then two more.
Is this a potential crime scene? Laura hires Wayne LeDoux as a
forensic criminalist to help Smokey with the discovery at the
house. Smokey enlists the aid of Tim Minton from a local funeral
home as well.
The men disguise themselves as painters and home repairmen who have
been hired to fix up the house. Each bricked-up place in the
basement uncovers more bodies. Has Laura's father been involved in
more than just illegal business dealings? Murder? What is the
real history of this building? Its inhabitants?
Smokey begins his investigation with the first set of skeletons.
His research leads him to Chicago in 1919. He is able to identify
the three bodies and discovers the men were interconnected with a
city teeming with gambling dens and bordellos. It is a time of race
riots, bombings, and the beginning of prohibition. Al Capone is
setting up his organization. While Smokey is looking into Chicago's
colorful and corrupt past, he is living with the tribulations of
the current Chicago trial, the Illinois Black Panthers under Fred
Hampton and the protests of the Vietnam War. How do this building
and the many victims found in it connect to today's world? As
Smokey uncovers more about the building and its previous owner,
including a former brick and mortar layer, he realizes that the
property has been a dumping ground for the police since before
Laura's father owned the building. Smokey puts the last pieces of
the puzzle together, hoping that he will arrive in time as the
story reaches its terrifying end.
Kris Nelscott's DAYS OF RAGE is the mystery that readers always
look for --- one steeped in colorful settings and rich characters.
The quest for justice becomes entangled in the history and culture
of Chicago, the modern city with a complicated past, as age-old
secrets are unlocked. As the mystery unfolds against the backdrop
of Chicago entering the Roaring Twenties, the characters present
their own timeless qualities in the social and political turbulence
of the 1960s.
Reviewed by Jennifer McCord on December 29, 2010