On the run after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Private Investigator Smokey Dalton and Jimmy, the young boy he rescued, have settled under assumed names in Chicago. But history won’t leave him alone.
His job in security at the Chicago Hilton places him in the center of the protests at the 1968 Democratic Convention. Worse, a killer works his South Side neighborhood, killing children. The Chicago Police Department doesn’t solve crimes in the South Side.
Smokey can’t ignore the crimes, any more than he can ignore the tension building in the city that hot August. He has to take action, before he loses everything.
Chosen as one of the top ten mystery novels of the year by both Deadly Pleasures and Booklist, Smoke-Filled Rooms fulfills the promise of the award-winning A Dangerous Road, and makes Smokey Dalton into one of the mystery field’s most memorable detectives.
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Praise for Smoke-Filled Rooms
“A blistering rendition of the ’60s racial wars marks this series as a standout as early as its second entry. You don’t need to be a fan of private-eye novels to admire Smokey: You just need a conscience.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“Nelscott does a superb job of using a familiar historical moment to dramatize an intimate human drama, as Smokey and Jimmy struggle to avoid becoming anonymous casualties lost behind the headlines. This series has all the passion and precision of Walter Mosley’s early Easy Rawlins novels, but it is not derivative. In fact, Smokey just may be a more compelling character than the celebrated Easy.”
“This is mystery fiction at its highest, most gripping level.”
“So much real drama shook the country during the spring and summer 1968 (from [Martin Luther] King and Bobby Kennedy’s killings to the street horror of the Democratic National Convention) that it might seem foolhardy to try to add fiction to the mix. But Nelscott has the heart, courage and brains for the job: Her scenes of demonstrators confronting police in front of the Hilton Hotel on Michigan Avenue (where Smokey gets a job as a security guard) could have come from a documentary, and her fictional characters (including a perfectly drawn family of friends with whom Jimmy and Smokey take shelter) all breathe and perspire with reality.”
“[Kris Nelscott’s Smoke-Filled Rooms] is really about American racism and about the riotous 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago….Nelscott brings it all back, and it’s hair-raising.”
—Washington Post Book World
“Nelscott recalls the era with vivid accuracy, and Smokey remains sympathetically solid.”
—St Petersburg Times
This is a novel filled with details and danger, atmosphere and character, action and truth. Nelscott’s hand is so certain and sure that it is hard to believe this is only her second book.
Nelscott is interested in delineating the ordinary rather than the extraordinary: the novel’s plot is well-articulated and suspenseful, but even more rewarding are its glimpses into the social constraints and preconceptions that surround Smokey (whose rusted Impala and skin color combine to form “a neon sign advertising trouble”). This is a solid follow-up effort that should have fans looking forward to a third appearance.
—Amazon.com editorial review
“The latest Dalton historical mystery (1968 as historical just does not seem right) is an exciting tale that brings alive a period of major unrest. The story line is great as the summer of love is ancient history and the summer of boiling discontent has replaced it. The characters, especially Smokey and Jimmy are real people. Not only conspiracy buffs will realize that Kris Nelscott is doing more than just blowing smoke with this tale and the delightful A DANGEROUS ROAD.”
“Kris Nelscott’s debut mystery, A DANGEROUS ROAD, was so good that it received an Edgar nomination even though it wasn’t eligible for the “best first mystery” category since it was not Nelscott’s first published book. A DANGEROUS ROAD didn’t win the coveted ‘best mystery’ Edgar, but the nomination alone should tell you something. Now, Nelscott follows up with SMOKE-FILLED ROOMS, and it’s everything readers of ROAD could have hoped for, and more than we had any right to expect.”
“Nelscott’s characters, their interactions, and the spaces they inhabit are vivid enough to see, to hear, to smell. The basic storyline involving Smokey, Jimmy, and the persons in contact with this pair, is as compelling, heart-wrenching, and suspenseful as any you will find. As if all of this were not enough, Nelscott also manages to breathe life into the complex historical setting for the story she is telling. Atmospherically, emotionally, intellectually–it really doesn’t get much better than this. Kris Nelscott is a shining star. Read her books, and read them in order. I can’t imagine you’ll regret it.”
“Smoke-Filled Rooms cemented Nelscott’s name as one of the sharpest new voices in crime fiction.”