Smokey Dalton is once again looking for Grace Kirkland’s oldest son, Daniel, an intelligent black teen and former Yale student now caught up in the Revolution. Sightings of Daniel in the vicinity of Yale dovetail with Smokey’s restless feet, so he decides to investigate in person. Thankfully, its summer, so Jimmy can come, along with Malcolm as a co-investigator and child caregiver. Rising unrest in Chicago feels particularly threatening, so the investigation has the added benefit of giving him a chance to scope out new places to live.
As usual, one of the things I enjoy most about this series is the insight into the social climate of the later 1960s from the perspective of an older black man. Although Jimmy is from Memphis and traveled with Smokey before landing in Chicago, it is the first time Malcolm has ever been out of Chicago. Staying in motels and visiting the Yale campus exposes all of them to new situations, some positive, some not so much.
Mysteries are always about the missing person, and Smokey finds himself conflicted about his assessment of Daniel. On the one hand, as he runs into the institutionalized racism and economic elitism embedded in the Yale culture, he can understand and sympathize with frustration. On the other hand, as a Korean War veteran, he has a hard time sympathizing with the ‘tear down the government’ mentality many of the student groups are espousing.
In his search, Smokey runs into a range of rhetoric from student movements, from the student protestors to advocates for the free love lifestyle. Smokey finds himself driven, not to save Daniel, but to stop him.
This was a fast moving plot, with a fascinating social setting and a satisfying resolution. Highly recommended.