The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor Lavalle is a good time.
If I say that it’s just a good read, does that do it a disservice? Do you think I mean to say that it’s not really a great book with something to say? Is calling a book simply a good read marking it down a bit in your estimation?
I don’t mean to do that. I value a fun read. It’s not an easy thing to write, I’m sure.
The story in The Ballad of Black Tom is set in a magical 1920’s era Harlem. Not that magical, don’t worry, but magical.
The hero has to deliver an ancient book to a woman who lives far up-town, in a neighborhood a black man best not be caught in after dark. He realizes the book contains powerful magic, too powerful for any one person to have, so he tears out the final page to prevent disaster.
The woman, soon realizes what has happened and plots to get the missing page back.
In Mr. Lavalle’s New York City there are places you avoid based on your race and places you avoid based on your magic. Sometimes the police will protect you, sometimes you need someone more supernatural. Think of a foggy film noir with a bit of dark magic on the side.
And there is jazz.
It was fun. I had a good time, and if I see more by Victor Lavalle, I just may pick it up.