3 out of 4 stars
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Micky owns a small neighborhood newspaper in the community of Austin, Chicago. He also works as a legman for Jim Diamond, who is an investigative reporter. Mr. Diamond received a letter from Reverend Charles Moore, stating he believes there is a local realty company organizing a group of black men to harass and intimidate residents of the Austin area. This is to force them to leave, so their homes can be purchased at a lower cost. The realty company can then sell their homes to black people for a much higher price. Mr. Diamond wasn’t interested in the story, so Micky called Reverend Moore and set up an appointment after his church service to interview him for his paper.
However, someone doesn’t appreciate what Reverend Moore is doing and sets the building on fire during the church service. Reverend Moore is killed, and a little girl is critically injured. When Micky tries to help, he is accosted and beaten as everyone thinks he must have set the fire, being a white man in a burning black church. He is saved by the police and firefighters who arrive for the fire. Upon getting out of the hospital, Micky is determined to discover who is responsible as the policemen declare it wasn’t arson. They have no intention of pursuing the case. Soon afterward, the murderer strikes again, and the police can’t ignore this death.
The Legman by Mike Kerr fits into the genre of C/T/M/H. The author grew up in the Chicago neighborhood of Austin during the time this story took place (1969). Therefore, his first-hand experience brings an authenticity to the tale. The author’s writing is descriptive and easy to understand, and the dialogue is believable.
His book includes several interesting layers to it. First, the tale can be read as an intriguing story of a murder, the hunt for the perpetrator, and, hopefully, bringing him to justice before he kills again. Next, the history of Chicago during this time frame is described, with all the gangs, both white and black (including Chicago Outfit, Blackstone Rangers, C-Notes Gang, Black Panthers, and Irish Social and Athletic Club). Plus, the political climate is depicted with racial discrimination by the police and the men in power. As you can see, the novel can also fit into the category of historical fiction. Finally, the novel reminds the readers that our actions during our lives frequently have unexpected, longstanding consequences as there can be a domino effect.
Initially, I thought the author was including too many side stories that were taking away from the major plot. However, as the story progressed, I could see how all the pieces were being woven masterfully together, along with several twists, to make a terrific ending. This was my favorite part of the tale.
The first six pages were perfectly edited, and I would have been ecstatic if the remainder of the book was the same way, gladly awarding it 4 stars. Sadly, there were many flaws in the form of punctuation and grammatical errors throughout the rest of the book. Many of these were misplaced quotation and punctuation marks. An example is, “ ‘What do you mean by the necessary actions, the ones that you hope it doesn’t come to, Mr. Mayor, ‘asks Reverend Moore in a clear breech of protocol?” It should read, “. . . Mr. Mayor?” asks Reverend Moore in a clear breach of protocol. These were numerous and distracting and my least favorite aspect of the book. It could use a professional editor. Because of the errors, I am forced to take away a star from the rating. Subsequently, The Legman achieves a rating of 3 out of 4 stars.
Readers who enjoy crime dramas, thrillers, and historical fiction books would appreciate this story. Rape, murder, torture, and profanities are seen in the book. Therefore, readers sensitive to those things might want to look elsewhere. It is unsuitable for children.
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