A YEAR OF MADNESS by G. Franklin Prue

A YEAR OF MADNESS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A revenge tale set against the backdrop of the civil rights movement and the crime-ridden streets of the U.S. capital.

In the riots following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Bobby Holmes watches as his father is mercilessly gunned down, not by the overzealous white police force, but by a member of his community—the notorious, sadistic Charlie Ringnose. But as the connection for white sellers to funnel drugs into the black neighborhoods, Ringnose is untouchable in Washington, D.C., and the murder of Bobby’s father will seemingly go unpunished. Fast forward to Bobby as an adult, now a successful doctor but still haunted by the tragedy and more determined than ever to avenge his loss. Ringnose has had D.C.’s criminal element in a stranglehold for years, and the vengeful doctor isn’t the only one who wants him dead. Prue’s debut is overly ambitious—while it broadly addresses the themes of race and power in America, it ultimately falls short of identifying the connection implied between the two. Though enemies, Bobby and Ringnose are largely motivated by the same deep-seated rage, a resentment cultivated from years of struggling under racial inequality, but Bobby’s quest for revenge is never adequately tied to that anger specifically, while Ringnose’s lust for power seems born of simple greed. The novel’s prose is unique, deploying a semipoetic style with noir influences that alternates between candid and lyrical without being jarring, save for the disappointing moments when it falls back on hokey, action-movie tropes such as sensationalized gang wars or a hired-nursemaid assassin. The novel’s first half is the most notable and impressive, where the frank depictions of civil unrest in the 1960s—coupled with the younger Bobby’s wide-eyed wonder—capture a time in America when things seemed their bleakest, but people still dreamed of something better.

Opens strong, but loses its way and becomes a cookie-cutter revenge story.

 

Pub Date: March 17th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1453821855
Page count: 252pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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