Smokey Dalton

Created by (pseud. of Kristine Kathryn Rusch)

"You know, sometimes people should be allowed their secrets."

--Smokey lays it out for a client

Memphis, 1968. Black P.I., white client. And MLK's on the way...

In the Edgar-nominated A Dangerous Road, Memphis P.I. SMOKEY DALTON is hired by a wealthy woman from Chicago to find out why her mother left him $10,00 in her will.

That's an intriguing enough premise, but toss in the fact that 1968 Memphis is a racial powderkeg set to go off, with an on-going Sanitation Workers' Strike and the impending arrival of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. contributing to the mix. Now add in that Smokey's developing a strong, and apparently mutual attraction to his white client, and you've got one hell of a read that offers an unflinching look at a pivotal moment in American history.

In fact, that era's civil rights struggle resonates all through this book, from Smokey's childhood friendship with King in Atlanta, and the lynching of Smokey's parents, to the growing tension in Memphis between protesters and police, and blacks and whites. And it's not a simple us versus them book, either. Nobody gets off that easy, in this powerful novel that, not even Smokey.

But, flaws or not, he's an appealing private eye, a loner with a strong set of ethics, burning with anger at the injustices he sees everyday, but careful to distance himself from the struggle for equality swirling all around him, or any personal involvement. He doesn't even commit himself to his profession --he prefers to call himself an "odd-jobs man."

But the distance Smokey tries to keep is rapidly shrinking, even as his attraction grows, and it soon becomes obvious that somehow, somewhere, his client's life and his are inextricably linked.

Nelscott has created a great character here, and written a great book, and more than one reviewer has hoped she'll bring back Smokey soon. And often. So far, it looks like their hopes are coming true. There have been several more books in the series so far, including Smoke-filled Rooms (2001), Thin Walls (2002), Days of Rage (2006) and Street Justice (2014).

Kris Nelscott is the pen name of the prolific Kristine Kathryn Rusch, an award-winning writer of science fiction, romance and mysteries.


Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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