St. Martin's, Sep 2002, 24.95, 320 pp.
By Christmas 1968, private eye Smokey Dalton and his ten year old son Jimmy continue to hide in Chicago knowing that various law enforcement agencies at all levels of government and some nasty private citizens want to find them. Jimmy eye-witnessed the killing of MLK and it is not the guy confessing from a prison cell. Unable to tell who is friend from foe because a police uniform means nothing, Smokey and Jimmy have changed identities in order to remain incognito.
To support the two of them, Smokey cannot obtain a formal but traceable sleuth license even under his alias of Bill Grimshaw. Instead he does whatever comes his way to include some under the table inquiries. While dealing with Jimmy and the gangs, and his lover/employer relationship with a wealthy white woman, “Bill” agrees to investigate the death of a Black dentist. Rather quickly, “Bill” finds himself in the middle of the very thing he needs to avoid: the FBI and other police officials investigating a potential serial killer.
The third Dalton historical mystery, THIN WALLS, is a fabulous tale that brings to life the turbulent sixties through the frustrations of various groups. This technique could have proven fatally stereotyped, but instead Kris Nelscott makes each group distinct in their rage at their inability to truly matter. The mystery is first class and Smokey's efforts to keep Jimmy clean feel genuine and makes him humanly like most caring parents. The series is as big a winner as the Detroit Tiger's World Series (Jets Superbowl was still a few weeks a way) victory.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner