Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Book: Ticket to Ride, by Ed Gorman (2009)

I’ve read quite a few books by Ed Gorman, but somehow the Sam McCain series got by me. So naturally I’m starting with the newest entry, which is also possibly the last. Still, better late than never.

Sam is a lawyer/investigator in Black River Falls, Iowa. It’s 1965. The local minister is burning Beatles records and people are starting to pay attention to the conflict in Vietnam. Some, like Sam, are doing more. They’re organizing protests, incurring the wrath of more conservative friends and neighbors. Shortly after one such rally goes awry, there’s a murder. As far as the sheriff is concerned it’s tied to the demonstration, but Sam unearths connections to a death that rocked the town several years before.

It’s a Gorman novel, so you get a well-turned plot, deft pop culture references, and sharp observations on small town life. You also get characters who don’t conform to expectations. The golden boy activist railroaded into jail? He’s something of an operator. The die-hard patriot ready to tar and feather is also a grieving father. Then there’s Sam himself, aware of all these incongruities as he struggles to do the right thing.

Here’s Ed in conversation with Tom Piccirilli about Ticket to Ride, the earlier Sam McCain books, and other sundry matters.