Morrow, 2004, 23.95, 306 pp.
In 1970s Bismarck, rock and roll deejay Rick Shannon loses his job when his station is sold. He is despondent and concerned about finding work in a changing business climate in which corporate intrusion has led to one size fits all play lists and patter must be politically correct as defined by big brother owner.
Desperate to remain in the field, Rick accepts work as the late evening host Buddy Miles in McRae, Mississippi. However, upon arriving in town, he learns that the station's general manager Clay Stubblefield expects Rick to serve as the program director. Rick agrees to stay on as program manager only if he also receives the night spot replacing local legend "Captain" Jack Carter. Though the reader ironically knows, Rick wonders why the Captain left town without taking his valuable record collection. Rick investigates what happened to his predecessor helped by a tape that the captain took of Clay implying sexual misconduct and potential illegal drug activity. If Rick is not careful he might learn the hard way how the old boy method works on interfering outsiders.
This is an engaging look back at an era in which radio is changing from local to regional and national. The amateur sleuth aspects of the tale are fun though the tension is more of a slow dance than a hustle. Rick is terrific as the outsider while Clay and his cohorts give southern living a sinister name. Bill Fitzhugh furbishes an insightful tale starring a fine protagonist who deserves a second gig from his new haunt in Gulfport.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner