It's hard to believe it's been eight years since Kris Nelscott's A Dangerous Road was published. This first book in the Smokey Dalton mystery series was nominated for an Edgar for Best Mystery Novel. It had an unusual main character, a fascinating storyline, and it made a terrific book discussion book.
The book is set in Memphis, Tennessee in 1968. The sanitation workers' strike has been going on for almost three weeks at the start of the book. Race relations are getting worse, and marches are becoming riots.
Dalton is an African-American P.I., hired by a young white woman to learn why her mother remembered Smokey in her will. He uncovers a thirty-year-old secret that will shake up his life.
But, it can't shake up his life more than the events that surround Memphis as Dalton's old friend, Martin Luther King, Jr., returns to town to assist with the strikes. The world will soon change for Dalton, and the country.
When I made this book a book discussion group for Black History Month for a group of white women in Florida, they thought it was an unlikely choice. However, A Dangerous Road was one of my better choices, leading to a good discussion, as we all looked back at 1968, and the repercussions in our hometowns. Since most of us were in the Midwest in 1968, we had some interesting stories.
Kris Nelscott's A Dangerous Road really shouldn't be on a list of "Forgotten" books.
Kris Nelscott's website is www.kriswrites.com
A Dangerous Road by Kris Nelscott. St. Martin's Minotaur, ©2000, ISBN 0-312-26264-7 (hardcover), 325p.