Hello everyone. Today I am reviewing Our Man in the Dark by Rashad Harrison for TLC Book Tours. As always, I am provided with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Our Man in the Dark is a work of historial fiction that takes place during the days of the Civil Rights Movement. John Estem, a bookkeeper working for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., finds that he is being watched by the FBI. They know that Estem, who wants to be somebody, has taken a large sum of money from the SCLC for his personal use, and they use that information to get Estem to work for them as an informant. The story, which has a Noir edge, follows Estem as he wrestles with his own demons, as well as the demons of others.
King, Ralph Abernathy and Andrew Young are a strong presence in the book, as well as a host of vividly drawn fictional characters. The author writes in detail of the time period, recreating the world of Atlanta and Los Angeles in the 60’s. Harrison is a wonderful writer. What I found especially compelling was the fact that each of the characters is flawed, each is damaged – including King. We now know of King’s sexual infidelities and the fact that the informants for the government infiltrated black organizations at the time. J. Edgar Hoover was known to have pursued any information he could get on King (and many, many others.) King had his own demons, like everyone else in the story. And it is that struggle that fuels much of this can’t-put-down novel.
It’s tricky writing about someone like Estem. He is the core of the story and some of his misguided choices are not those of the traditional protagonist. But through it all, I found myself liking him in spite of his flaws and respecting his honest look at himself. As the plot got more and more intricate and the story moved toward King’s assassination, I couldn’t put the book down. That’s good writing, indeed.
Rashad Harrison writes beautifully. He takes us on a journey through a very troubled time in our nation’s history and, in the process, creates a riveting story. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
About the author: Rashad Harrison has been a contributor to MedicineAgency.com, an online journal of political and cultural commentary, and his writing has appeared in Reed Magazine. As a Jacob K. Javits Fellow, he earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from New York University. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.