A former Freedom Rider and a determined detective face unfinished business in the aftermath of the Detroit riots.
Willie Bledsoe has left Alabama for the Motor City to write a memoir about how he lost faith in the civil rights movement even before the recent assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Although Willie is articulate and educated, the only work Detroit seems to offer a young black man is as a busboy at an all-white country club. But race doesn’t seem to matter at Tiger Stadium, and in watching the battle for the pennant, Willie can forget for a while the part he played in the race riots the previous year. Frank Doyle, a detective with a gift for getting people to talk, is less willing to forget, since he’s handling one of the two remaining homicide cases from the riots. The victim was the wife of a store owner in Frank’s neighborhood. A sexy art student working as a waitress and late-night one-way talks with his father, who died on the job at the Ford complex called the Rouge, offer Frank comfort but don’t bring him answers. Then a new break comes when a witness recalls seeing two men go up to the roof and hearing them fire guns. While Frank’s searching for more clues, Willie’s trying to stay one step ahead of a past that’s catching up with him in a city of flashy cars and Motown music, wealthy suburbs and burned-out neighborhoods, civic pride and despair.
As usual, Morris (All Souls’ Day, 1997, etc.) uses historical figures and events, as well as a uniquely American city, as a backdrop for an intense cat-and-mouse game, though it’s not clear who’s the cat and who’s the mouse.