Book review: ‘Nothing More Dangerous’ by Allen Askens

By LARRY BALLWAHN | Wilton

Boady Sandron was working for one objective. As soon as he had earned enough money, he was going to get away from Jessop. Jessop Missouri had one main employer, Ryke Manufacturing, a maker of molded plastics, but Boady, age 15, didn’t work there. He worked for Wally Schenicker’s drywall company, as did his mother and as had his father before he fell to his death.

Boady had many moving parts in his life. There was Hoke Gardner, the neighbor who lived next door and served as Boady’s male sounding board even though he was reticent about sharing his own past. Hoke had only one good arm, the reason not clear, although the obvious burn scars on his body hinted the cause. He had lived nearby as long as Boady could remember and was a trusted confidant. 

There was the navigation that it took to be a freshman at St. Ignautis, the private school where he seemingly went unnoticed except after he tripped one of the Boob Brothers on his way to “accidentally” spill gravy on the only black girl in the school. It was then that Boady was rudely introduced to the CORPS (Crusaders of Racial Purity and Strength) and Jarvis Holcomb. Not that he didn’t know all about them that he cared to know. That meeting introduced another situation to maneuver. Rather than get the beating Boady had expected, Jarvis assigned him the task of spying on the new black neighbors who were moving across the road from him. Until Boady could think of something better, he implied agreement. 

The new neighbors turned out to be the Elgins, a black family transferred from the Twin Cities so that Charles Elgin could take over management of the Ryke Plant. Jarvis Holcomb’s father had been demoted; Elgin was to find out how $150,000 had been embezzled from the company. Since Lida Poe disappeared at about the same time the loss was discovered, it was commonly supposed that she was responsible. Since she was an employee in the purchasing department, it was certainly possible, but wouldn’t Holcomb have had some knowledge of the discrepancy? And what had become of Lida Poe?

The Elgins had a son the same age as Boady. Though their introductory meetings had been somewhat tenuous, a friendship developed. It was reinforced by the fact that their mothers quickly became close friends. But Jarvis Holcomb wasn’t to be ignored. He supplied a spray can of paint with the expectation that a rude greeting be sprayed on the Elgin’s new siding. Boady didn’t do the assigned job, but that wasn’t the last he would hear of such expectations.

Missing money, a missing woman, Holcomb demoted, a new black manager for Ryke in Jessop Missouri, the CORPS, and not to forget, Jarvis Holcomb and the Boob Brothers. That’s a lot to bring together by the end of the book.

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