I remember when President Reagan signed the King Holiday into law in January 1983. I was 9 and in the fourth grade. I remember wondering if he made the day a holiday because he knew what it was like to have someone try to assassinate you. And since he survived, and Dr. King didn’t, the president thought at least we should remember Dr. King every year.
A very simplified, childlike view of the event, to be sure.
And today, my understanding and appreciation for the importance of this holiday are much more thorough, as they should be. Because the issues that Dr. King spoke about almost 50 years ago still make headlines today. I will not delve into the politics of this, as that’s not the purpose of this blog, but the fact remains that if you look at headlines today and compare them to headlines 50 years ago, you’d find some disturbing similarities.
But as the purpose of this blog is to talk about books, today seems like an excellent day to talk about an award-winning book centered around the assassination of Dr. King: A Dangerous Road by Kris Nelscott.
Here’s the synopsis:
Private Investigator Smokey Dalton works for Memphis, Tennessee’s black community. He has almost no interaction with the white hierarchy, even though they exist only blocks away. So he’s surprised the day a white woman walks into his Beale Street office. Laura Hathaway has sought him out because he’s a beneficiary in her mother’s will, and Laura wants to know why. So does Smokey. He’s never heard of the Hathaways, but his search will take him on a journey that will change everything he’s ever known.
Set against the backdrop of the strike and protests that will end with Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination, A Dangerous Road combines the politics of race, betrayal, unexpected love, and the terrible cost of trust into a story so memorable the Mystery Writers of America chose it as one of the top five novels of the year and the Historical Mystery Appreciation Society honored it as the winner of the Herodotus Award for Best Historical Mystery.
A Dangerous Road launched a series—the Smokey Dalton series—of books that everyone should read. And I don’t say that lightly. The depth, historical accuracy, compelling narrative and skill with which Kris Nelscott weaves together fact and fiction are incomparable. These books will someday be iconic. And I don’t say that lightly either.
A Dangerous Road is available in ebook, trade paperback or audiobook. What better day to start reading it than today?
Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer.