Cahokia Jazz

Scribner. Feb. 2024. 464p. ISBN 9781668025451. $28. M
This gritty noir murder mystery by Spufford (Light Perpetual) will hook readers with its fully realized tableau of an alternative history where the Indigenous populations in North America thrive rather than being decimated after encountering colonial forces. Realistically envisioned characters populate the pages, while the historical 1920s are on full display. Jazz, Prohibition, and political corruption are tightly and vividly interwoven with the subtle changes to society and culture that such an alternative trajectory may have produced. The Mississippian cultural capital of Cahokia is a flourishing city-state within the United Sates and is the gateway to the West. However, there are tensions behind the scenes in this metropolitan city, and one murder may undo centuries of progress. When Cahokia police detective Joe Barrow and his partner are called to a rooftop crime scene, little do they realize how this case will upend their lives and push them, and their city, on a path leading to either redemption or destruction.
VERDICT Spufford has written an astounding homage to noir mysteries. A poignant drama-filled novel that his fans and readers of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian will thoroughly enjoy.
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