Wednesday 14 February 2024



"A fresh and fierce new voice to crime fiction...a stunning book that takes the reader on an intense and harrowing journey that is truly unforgettable. Consider me a big fan."— Don Winslow, New York Times bestselling author of The Cartel, The Force and City on Fire

In the vein of GET OUT and RAZORBLADE TEARS, a powerful and propulsive noir thriller - with an unforgettable cast of characters - asks us to consider what would happen if reparations for African Americans were finally charged and exacted..... by force?

Nate Evers, a young black political activist, struggles with rage as his people are still being killed in the streets 62 years after Emmett Till. When his little cousin is murdered, Nate shuns the graffiti murals, candlelight vigils, and Twitter hashtags that are commonplace after these senseless deaths. Instead, he leads 3 grief-stricken friends on a mission of retribution, kidnapping the descendants of long-ago perpetrators of hate crimes, confronting the targets with their racist lineages, and forcing them to pay reparations to a community fund. For 3 of the group members, the results mean justice; for Nate – pure revenge.

Not all targets go quietly into the night, though, and Nate and his friends' world spirals out of control when they confront the wrong man. Now the leader of a white supremacist group is hot on their tail as is a jaded lawman with some disturbingly racist views of his own.

As the 4 vigilantes fight to thwart their ruthless pursuers, they’re forced to accept an age-old truth: "Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves."

Early days in 2024 and I've probably just read one of the best books I'll encounter all year.

Powerful, topical, exciting, thought provoking, angry, and - as we track the last hours of young, love struck Darius - upsetting.

Smoke Kings was an addictive read. I didn't want to put it down. From the get go I was drawn in to the tale and got slightly irritated when life interfered with me discovering what was going to happen next.

This tale had a bit of everything.... love, loyalty, secrets, trust, tension, ignorance, anger, history, violence and at its core; ugly, brutal, incomprehensible racism.

Great characters, fantastic writing, a compelling story, decent pace, and a fantastic outcome. It's a book that I want to press into the hands of other keen readers. Highly recommended.

Kind of hard to believe this is a debut novel from author, Jahmal Mayfield. I'll definitely be looking out for his next book. 

5 stars from 5! 

Read - February, 2024

Published - 2024

Page count - 402

Source - review copy from publisher, Melville House

Format - Paperback ARC


  1. Wow, this does sound potent, Col. And really timely, too, as these sorts of ugly things really do happen. And it's a powerful way to explore the topic of racism and race relations.

    1. Well worth a look, Margot if you find the time!

  2. I reviewed Smoke Kings for Mystery Scene and I agree. It is a bombshell.

    1. Ben, I agree completely. It's a cracker!

  3. I love the way you can summarize a book. I wish I had your talent for reviewing. I am glad to see you have reviewed three books this month.

    1. Tracy thanks for stopping by. It's a bit of a struggle to summon up enough enthusiasm to post. I'm kind of enjoying reading and moving on!