A young man searching for the murderer of his childhood friend comes of age in 1989 Oakland, California.
This report prepared by Shelby Coleman
Villard, Jan 2001, 13.95, 322 pp.
In 1989 Oakland, teenager Maceo Albert Bouchaund has everything, coming from an upper middle class family. His grandfather Albert is considered as one of the city's patriarchs. He attends college at nearby Berkley though he is currently visiting at home. He also is a fine baseball player in spite of being small for the sport.
However, Maceo's world changes when he learns that someone put a bullet into the head of his childhood buddy Billy Crane, a major local player in the lucrative drug trafficking. The murder of Billy is not a shocker as dealers are routinely killed in the competitive quest for customers. When Maceo learns that Billy's girlfriend Flea vanished, he decides he must do something because she is the unrequited love of his life. As he begins to investigate Billy's death and search for Flea, Maceo finds the enticing side of the drug world calling to him like a sexy siren. Will he fall to its lure in spite of his heritage?
THE DYING GROUND is quite a coup as first time novelist Nichelle D. Tramble provides more than a very good urban amateur sleuth tale. The story line centers on the full picture, including glamour, of the drug industry that still holds on to many American communities. Maceo is a wonderful protagonist, struggling with the thin line between his moral upbringing and the instant gratification of the fool's gold drug world. Though many readers will need to adjust to the accents of the secondary cast, this approach provides a real feel to Oakland in the first year of what now seems like ancient history of papa Bush's administration.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner