Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Ragtime Fool-Larry Karp

The Ragtime Fool
Larry Karp
Poisoned Pen, Apr 1 2010, $24.95
ISBN 9781590586990

At one time, Brun Campbell was the sole white student of ragtime master Scott Joplin. However, that was seemingly ages ago for now in 1951, The Ragtime Kid is an old man who cuts hair in Venice, California, but continues to push Joplin’s reputation hoping to get some good publicity for the ragtime great.

In Joplin’s hometown of Sedalia, Missouri, plans to honor him in a special ceremony have divided the area. Many are proud of what the late great ragtime guru did, but the Klan has other thoughts. When word of a Joplin journal surfaces, Brun and a seventeen years old New Jersey ally Alan Chandler are exhilarated and want it published so the profits will allow the leaders of Sedalia to create a Joplin-Ragtime museum. Historian Rudi Blesh also wants to publish the journal as a book. Others including close friends of Joplin do not want it published while the Klan wants to destroy the diary. The Klan believes killing including blowing up a filled auditorium is acceptable.

The third Ragtime historical tale is a superb thriller with a seemingly cast of thousands deftly played like a maestro by Larry Karp. The multiple sub-plotted story line is fast-paced as several diverse interests converge in Sedalia. The deep look at racial relations and divisions during the end of the Truman era as well as how those who knew Joplin prefer to pick and choose their history as nostalgia wants positive memories which makes for a strong character driven mid twentieth century thriller.

Harriet Klausner

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