Dying Ground: A Hip-Hop Noir Novel
(click to buy this title online now)
by Nichelle D. Tramble
Format: Paperback, 224pp.
Publisher: Random House, Incorporated
Pub. Date: January 2001
Edition: 1 ED
From the Publisher
Billy: dead. Felicia: missing.
None of the words made sense together, but the doom I'd expected announced itself. I felt iron in my mouth, like I'd gargled with pennies, a taste like blood, a bitter taste that always followed bad news.
The setting is Oakland, 1989; the crack epidemic is at its height and turf wars are brewing. Maceo Redfield, currently on hiatus from college, is walking a fine line between respectability and involvement in Oakland's drug underworld. As he waits in the neighborhood barbershop, one of his closest childhood friends, Holly Ford, brings him the news of the murder of Billy Crane, the third member of their childhood trio and a successful drug dealer. Felicia, Billy's girlfriend and Maceo's true love, is on the run and suspected of setting up the hit. As he searches for Felicia and the answer to the mystery of Billy's murder, Maceo is drawn deeper into a world in which dealers, players, and interlopers, obeying a code of honor all their own, engage in a deadly game to capture the heart of Oakland. When Maceo uncovers the truth about Billy, the story builds to a terrifying and painful climax.
AALBC.com Review by Thumper
While the debate will continue as to whether the major publishing houses have finally recognized the African-American reading audience or not, there can be no question as to the rise in the number of imprints that have been created to cater to a African-American reading audience. The Dying Ground, the debut novel for author Nichelle D. Tramble, is one of the first books to appear under The Strivers Row imprint from Random House. Although the success and longevity of Strivers Row imprint will ultimately be decided in the future, by publishing The Dying Ground, Strivers Row began with an excellent first book. The subtitle to The Dying Ground is A Hip-Hop Noir novel. I disagree. The Dying Ground is a look at love, relationships and how at times the two simply don�t mix. The atmosphere of the novel may be the realistic representation of life on the streets, the environment our children are growing up in. The center of the action, and overall feel is of a mystery/suspense novel. What impressed me the most is the genuine emotions of the characters, how they interacted with each other, and that I was left with the devastating effects of the relationships. The Dying Ground can not fit into any one category, with probably the possible exception of being categorized as a damn good book!
The Dying Ground is a story told by its main character Maceo Albert Bouchaund Redfield. Maceo is 23 year old and haven�t quite decided what he wants to do with his life. So, he’s peddlin� around. He lives with his grandparents, tends bar for his grandfather, and works on perfecting his nice guy image. The story takes place in Oakland, 1989, and Maceo is sitting on the fence by not committing to live the life that his friends are living or cutting his friends loose and finding his own way. In other words, eating off both tables. Maceo grew up with two friends; Billy Crane and Holly Ford, both are in the drug business. One day Billy is killed and his fianc�e Felicia, AKA Flea and Maceo’s ex-girlfriend, are on the run. Maceo vows to find Felicia, amidst threats to his life, his family and friends. Maceo can�t quit until he finds Felicia. Maceo soon understands the old adage, be careful what you wish for, you might get it.
I’m going to be honest with you all; after I finished reading, The Dying Ground, I was messed up. It wasn�t the mystery/suspense element of the story, which was excellent. Nor, was it the violence. I was devastated by the emotions and heartbreaks that were left in the wake of Maceo’s obsessive search for Felicia. Tramble did an excellent job, superb, establishing Maceo’s character and his environment and the people that make up his universe.
Tramble’s recreation of Oakland, 1989, is nothing short of encompassing. It’s funny how the mind, well at least mine, can play tricks on you. I’m in the middle of a more typical Indiana winter (cold, snow, wind that’s so bitter it hurts your feelings), yet; I was hot and on the verge of sweating reading of the Oakland summer of �89. That kind of ability is not to be taken lightly.
There are not too many AA writers that ’specialize� in the mystery/suspense format taking place in an urban setting, with the poverty, drugs, violence, the coating of hopelessness. I love hardedge mystery/suspense novels. I am glad to have Tramble join the ranks.
The Dying Ground is an excellent novel and I highly recommend it! If these are the kind of books that Strivers Row will bring us, get out of their way and let them do what they want to do. Tramble is a welcome addition to the mystery/suspense genre.