Fools Rush In
Pegasus, Sep 2007, $24.00
In June 1963 in suburban Black River Falls, Iowa, Judge Esme Anne Whitney assigns attorney and private investigator Sam McCain to end the shenanigans of a blackmailer who may derail the reelection of white Senator Williams, whose daughter is seeing a Negro David Leeds. Sam goes to the cabin of the extortionist photographer Richie Neville only to find him dead from two close-up shots to his face and nearby also killed is Leeds.
The American heartland has not been directly impacted by the civil rights movement that has the Freedom Riders all over the south and the nation listening to Negro demands for equality in DC. In Iowa, Sam quickly realizes just below the surface of calm lies plenty of anger and resentment as a black male does not date a white female. However, he also sees another scenario possible as Sam finds wads of money and photos of other victims; he ponders whether one chose to make remittance by murdering the blackmailer with the Negro being at the wrong place at the wrong time. The police want him to stay out of their case although he expects some sort of whitewashing of the truth.
Sam’s seventh song titled civil rights era mystery (see BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO and EVERYBODY’S SOMEBODY’S FOOL) is a terrific whodunit. However, it is the small town relatively serene Iowa backdrop that enables the audience to witness the demands for freedom in 1960s America; this seemingly out of the way from the prime civil rights focus allows readers to understand the scope of the movement. Ed Gorman once again combines a fine murder investigation with a touch of nostalgia inside of the grand scale of the local, regional, and national freedom marches that changed America.