Days of Rage

Written by Kris Nelscott
Review by James Hawking

This latest entry in the Smokey Dalton series concerns the racial politics of Chicago in 1969. In the background of the novel, we become aware of events such as the action by Students for a Democratic Society from which the book takes its name, the Chicago Conspiracy Trial stemming from the 1968 Democratic National Convention and that year’s baseball world series. Investigating skeletons in an old house leads back to the 1919 race riot and the early days of the Capone mob.

The main action concerns black private detective Dalton (under the name of Bill Grimshaw), his informally adopted son, and the white heiress who is his employer and his emotional interest. Dalton’s lack of knowledge of Chicago history is solved when he meets with that most wonderful of treasures, a reference librarian who is also an expert. Dalton discovers corruption and racism that permeate the system.

The portrayal of still controversial events like the shooting of Black Panther Fred Hampton is among the reasons that this novel is more effective as recent history than as mystery.