Smoke Kings

Melville House. Feb. 2024. 400p. ISBN 9781685891114. pap. $18.99. M
DEBUT The sight of his young cousin’s bruised and battered body on a morgue table has stuck with Joshua and his friends. Racial intolerance fueled the callous act that robbed Darius from friends and family. Two years later, Joshua and his close friends Nate, Isaiah, and Rachel target those who commit hate crimes or benefit from criminal actions against various racial groups. They abduct and interrogate their targets, forcing them to make weekly reparation payments to nonprofit groups. Mason Farmer, an investigator whose personal and professional life is in tatters, learns of an extortion plot from a man he knew in the past. As he gleans new leads, the vigilantes continue to pick new quarry. However, a rift begins to develop among the quartet and ideologies are challenged. An accidental death results in unforeseen dangers for Joshua and his inner circle, along with the possibility of being apprehended by Mason.
VERDICT In this story with an impassioned plotline and an assortment of complex characters, Mayfield approaches an often controversial subject with nuance, ushering in an array of perspectives from his dramatis personae. A brilliant debut from a promising talent.
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