1958 Edgar Award Winner. First appearance of Toussaint Moore, a black private investigator from New York, framed in his own city for a white man's murder. Moore ends up in a small Ohio town, close to the Kentucky border, trying to prove his own innocence and dealing the attitudes of the time. Fascinating novel, written by Lacy (Len Zinberg), a politically active author from the '30s whose knowledge of the culture is derived from his marriage to an African-American woman. Toussaint "Touie" Moore is considered the first credible black detective.
Show Less An interesting read from Lacy, more from his portrayal of race and how casually blacks were discriminated against, than for the mystery element of the book and the solving of the crime, though the plot was believable. Lacy also managed to touch on another taboo of the time, by introducing a lesbian couple into the mix.
The author was obviously ahead of his time in his willingness to question societal norms in regard to racism and homosexuality, possibly the adoption of his pseudonym was an effort to protect himself from the fall-out of McCarthyism in the 50’s, who knows?
Moore a part-time investigator cum security guard lands on his feet when hired to keep tabs on Robert Thomas, a small-town hood from Ohio now esconsed in New York. At $50 a day plus expenses, he’s making plans for his own detective agency. Cue disaster - Thomas gets murdered and Moore’s set-up to take the fall. Discovered by the police, with the corpse minutes after the crime is committed, he panickes, slugs a cop and goes on the run.Fleeing south to Ohio, Moore starts on a search for the real killer and the reasons he’s been put in the frame. A few days in Ohio, encountering more black/white disharmony as well as some small acts of kindness, in particular from Frances, the daughter of his temporary landlord, Moore with few answers heads back to New York to continue his hunt.
At the end of the book, with the crime solved, Moore tired of the detective game and tired of his whingeing girlfriend’s vision of their future together and her greater regard for possessions than love heads south again to re-connect with Frances, to hopefully live happily ever after?Lacy resurrected Toussaint Moore once more in the 1964 novel – Moment Of Untruth. (Not something that’s on my TBR Pile.)
3 plus from 5, so we'll go to a 4!This copy was a Blackmask pdf file that was emailed to me some years ago, by a fellow crime fiction fan in the US