The Ragtime Fool
Author: Larry Karp
Published: April 1, 2010 by Poisoned Pen Press
Category: Amateur sleuth, thriller, historical
Main Character: Brun Campbell, Alan Chandler, Tom Ireland, Rudi Blesh
It's 1951, and ragtime is making a comeback. In Sedalia, Missouri, plans are well along for a ceremony to honor Scott Joplin by presenting a plaque to be hung in the Black high school. But that's not enough for Brun Campbell, the old Ragtime Kid, who's working against time to establish Joplin's legacy. Brun learns of a journal Joplin kept during the years he was composing ragtime, and wants to show it to Sedalia's movers and shakers, hoping to persuade them to set up a ragtime museum in honor of his hero. Unfortunately for Brun, author/historian Rudi Blesh is determined to publish the journal, and has the inside track. Also, Joplin's old friend, Tom Ireland, concerned that revelation of the contents of the journal would be both embarrassing and dangerous, wants to suppress the material. Even worse, two Sedalia Klansmen are hot after the journal, and considering its value, don't care if they have to kill someone to get it. But what's one murder, compared to the Klansmen's grand plan to blow up the high school auditorium with its integrated audience during the ceremony? In the middle of this imbroglio is Alan Chandler, a 17-year-old pianist in love with ragtime, and possessed of more enthusiasm than common sense. If Alan can stay alive, he may be able to get Joplin's journal into the proper hands, prevent catastrophe at the ceremony, and in the process, learn what it really means to be Black in mid-Twentieth Century America.