St. Martin's, Feb 2004, 24.95, 320 pp.
Christmas 1969 in Chicago, African-American private eye Smokey Dalton and preadolescent Jimmy, who can identify the killer of Martin Luther King Jr., continue to hide under aliases from those who want the lad dead. They pose as father and son Bill and Jimmy Grimshaw respectively. While Jimmy stays with some friends, Bill goes out with his wealthy white girlfriend Laura Hathaway.
When Bill and Laura return to his apartment, they hear moans from the neighbor's place. They investigate to find a rape victim Val in critical condition because of a botched alleyway abortion. Her former spouse seeks vengeance, but is killed instead by a teen gang. Bill takes up the mantle seeking a deadly abortionist and a killer on the meanest streets of the Windy City.
This is great urban noir that stars powerful characters, especially the series regulars, as Smokey continues to smoke the competition as a window to the wild social unrest of the late 1960s especially in the black communities. However, the tale is more historical as readers are grimly reminded of the pre Roe vs. Wade era especially in Black America of hanger medical care and Planned Parenthood via sterilization woven inside the superb who-done-it. Also being released at the same time is the trade paperback version THIN WALLS, a great Smokey Dalton entry.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner