'Jackson Park' a Cook County (Illinois) Mystery by Charlotte Carter
Another black author suggested by ShugaHonBun's list of black mystery authors.
First off, I haven't the faintest idea why the book's title is "Jackson Park." Jackson Park is a city park in Chicago in President Obama's old
neighborhood, Hyde Park. Although Hyde Park is mentioned, not only does none of the action take place in Jackson Park, there's no mention of it in
the book.... at all.
**sigh** I googled a list of Charlotte Clay's books. I was/AM surprised to see it is her 30th book. Surprised because while I was reading this
very unsophisticated novel, I assumed it was her "first" book. Or maybe, her 2nd. As in other professions, lines of work, authors grow, become
better writers with experience. While a "decent" novel, as a mystery (by someone who had 29 books under belt when she wrote it) I give it a "C."
It's mediocre at best.
Were I so inclined, I prolly could have read the 213 page paperback in one sitting. It's a fast read - no "big" words, no complicated characters
(which makes them "flat" so less interesting, IMO), very little emotion, no great passages that make you want to "linger" over them, certainly
nothing in the book worth "savoring." The "mystery" was too tightly summed up. I mean, darn near everybody in the heroine's life - from her uncle
and aunt to the people in the neighborhood she grew up in and left 10 years previous, to the kids she goes to college with at the time of the story -
was in some way, part and parcel of the mystery.
I got no real feel for the heroine, a black woman who came of age during the 1970's, the black nationalist/post-Civil Rights Movement era.... a time
that I came of age. For one, it was a superficial rendering of the players of that era (if you weren't there, however, it was half-way decently told
- half-way because the author OBVIOUSLY was not an activist, i.e., she was a bystander to history). The reason I got no real feel for the heroine was
because her only description was that she had a limp (which, btw, didn't figure AT ALL in the story). I don't think she was pretty..... I
can't describe her at all except that she existed OUTSIDE the era she lived in. This is MY knowledge; the author felt she was part and parcel of her
era because she wore flowered shirts and bell bottom pants. However, the novel starts out with her being disaffected, having a wry attitude toward
life and the world. Which is why I say balderdash! The 60's/70's were a time of great men and great ideas, and for the average BLACK
person, especially, it was a time of GREAT EXPECTATIONS for our lives and futures. Few to no black college students of that era held her attitude,
thought about life the way she did and seemingly, had no expectations of a bright future.
The heroines' aunt and uncle were throw-backs to the 1950's. Older black people did not act the way they did in the 1970's (people in the 70's
carried guns, not straight razors)....
It's a chore to review "mediocrity." And the ONLY reason I pan the book is because the author has 31 books in print! I mean, NO descriptions of her
characters (except, pretty much, their race)? As a black person reading about black people and between the lines, I got a fuzzy picture of the aunt
and uncle and a couple of people back in "da hood", but no "she was a tall, thick, striking woman with soft, almond-shaped eyes that made men
melt...." Now that I think of it, she only described one person, a minor character, with any kind of clarity - a white professor who had (I think)
"chestnut hair and limpid eyes."
The best thing I can say about the book is that the mystery was resolved satisfactorily by the book's end. The WAY it was solved, however, was
ridiculous, i.e., the aunt and uncle and our heroine "interviewed" PROFESSIONAL people about their whereabouts, etc., etc., etc. without anyone
calling the cops and having them arrested for trespassing. Indeed, they answered the strangers' questions, even the principal of a ghetto
elementary school who had never seen this black man and his black niece, neither with official standing, before in her life, to the point of
requisitioning OFFICIAL school records and reading other people's ( ) files to them.
Like I said: it's a fast read. If you know little to nothing about Chicago or the 1970's, and don't care what the characters look like - to
themselves OR to others - you might enjoy this book. The best thing is that you will the characters as black people, so that's a plus.
Out of Love, you can speak with straight fury
Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it
Choose your hypnotist well.....
Ergo, the blue pill (illusion), or the red pill (reality)