The Ragtime Fool

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What to expect

It’s 1951 in Sedalia, Missouri, and ragtime is making a comeback. When Brun Campbell, the old Ragtime Kid, learns of a journal kept by Scott Joplin, he hopes he can use it to convince Sedalia’s movers and shakers to set up a ragtime museum. But plenty of other people also want that journal, including a historian who wants to publish it, an old friend of Joplin’s who wants to suppress it, and two Klansmen who don’t care if they have to kill someone to get it. What’s one murder, compared to the Klansmen’s grand plan to blow up the high-school auditorium with its integrated audience during a ceremony honoring Joplin? In the middle of this imbroglio is Alan Chandler, a young pianist in love with ragtime. If Alan can stay alive, he may be able to prevent catastrophe and learn what it really means to be black in mid-twentieth-century America.

Critics Review

  • “American obsessions with race and glory dominate Karp’s lively conclusion, set in 1951, to his Ragtime trilogy…Karp handles the intricate plot well, but the best part of the book is its picture of people torn between what they want to forget and what they need to remember.”

    Publishers Weekly
  • “Willis’ pacing is fluid, and his tone is intense when needed and comfortably relaxed elsewhere.”

  • “As usual, Karp populates his book with nearly as many historical characters as fictional ones, many of whom will be familiar to readers who enjoyed the earlier books. Ragtime remains central to the series, both in terms of its ambience and its plots, making the trilogy a must recommendation to fans of jazz and American roots music.”

  • “Karp seamlessly weaves real people like Campbell into an interesting historical yarn with a whodunit kicker.”

    Kirkus Reviews

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