|Image by Kraemer Family Library via Flickr|
|"The dumbstruck faces of the black men and|
women trapped in the disintegrating NAACP
building were what Mark Dillard recalled
most vividly about the dream..."
Last night marked the third time in a week
the dream had rattled around inside Dillard's
head...Dillard struck a match and sat motionless,
mesmerized by the quivering flame...It amazed
Dillard that something so small and seemingly
benign could unleash such incredible
A Darryl Billups Mystery
By Blair S. Walker
After enjoying recent novels by Journalists Charles Salzberg, Bruce DeSilva, and Harold Michael Harvey, I was enthused to find Blair S. Walker and his mystery series. Walker has been with USA Today, New York Newsday, the Washington Post and with the Associate Press. This is the first of the three already available novels, featuring investigative reporter Darryl Billups. A great beginning!
He had been able to capture the attention of a few individuals that had similar feelings--one had been recently overlooked for a promotion that had been made based upon affirmative action rather than seniority. Another was a demolitions expert, taught while in the armed forces. The other, Rick Allen, was, or seemed to be, merely a groupie, a fan of Dillard...but he was an undercover cop...
Dillard had borrowed Allen's truck and had been carrying neo-Nazi propaganda, blasting caps and dynamite when he ran out of gas and got involved with the police. Soon he was in a shootout and had wounded a Baltimore cop, while getting away. He immediately called Allen to let him know that his truck was being held by the police and during the confusion that occurred afterward, Dillard discovered that Allen was a cop! He was the group's first victim...and then there were three...
There were several actions they had planned: demolishing the NAACP Headquarters, killing a local Jewish philanthropist who was known to contribute large sums of money to minority groups. Now, however, using the personal loss to Harold Boyles' when he didn't get his expected promotion, Dillard got the group psyched to take revenge by bombing one or more of the company's new garbage trucks. Unfortunately, Boyles' best friend was killed in the blast; Boyles was so upset at what he'd done that he committed suicide. And then there were two...
In the meantime, Darryl Billups is dealing with daily issues for the Baltimore crime beat, while trying to stay out of the politics of working for a predominantly white-owned/managed newspaper, and especially with his immediate supervisor, who is constantly trying to put Darryl in a bad light. When Darryl begins getting calls from an autonomous informer, telling about the planned NAACP bombing and the murder of the community leader, he immediately places calls to a homicide police officer with whom he's earlier worked, and to his newspaper. The woman with whom he spoke, however, lied about receiving the information! His supervisor began his campaign to get him off the crime beat, but, instead, Billups continues to receive the calls. The Managing Editor keeps Billups working on the case...
|"Obviously this is not going to be one of my memorable days.|
It doesn't get any better a few minutes later when some
crackpot calls up with a cryptic warning about a conspiracy..."
"I'm sitting...wondering why a purported terrorist has singled
me out. Is it just some twisted cretin messing with one of the
paper's few black reporters?
"But what am I supposed to make of a caller warning that a tan
Dodge van will blow up the NAACP's national headquarters
in downtown Baltimore?
"Weirdos selcom deal in that kind of detail. Naturally, when
I pressed for more information, I got a click in my ear for my
I missed an important clue along the way, so I was completely surprised at the end regarding the anonymous caller. But that's alright, because I enjoyed trying to guess who was doing what along the way. The climatic ending was thoroughly satisfying, especially afterwards when Darryl began to receive job offers and quit his job... having to encounter any form of discrimination on the job is just not worth staying, in my opinion!
If you enjoy a good action mystery and would like to see behind the scenes regarding crime reporting and the interaction between the police and the newspaper--what gets reported and what doesn't, sometimes...then I believe you, too, will enjoy Up Jumped The Devil!
Perhaps, one day, there will be no hate crimes to be reported in our daily news. Learning more about the participants may be a way to discover and prevent such crimes. I commend authors who create fictional stories based upon what is happening daily in our lives. This one does just that! Highly recommended...
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