In the summer of 1959, two black teens hoping to sneak a beer in the South Carolina woods chance on a lynching led by the local judge. One bolts. The other, Ike Washington, freezes and winds up with a choice: join the man about to die, or begin hustling black support the judge needs to advance in politics. In return, he will enjoy a life of power and comfort. In a year of heightened political sensitivities, Bootlicker goes where C-SPAN is never invited – to back rooms where deals are cut, futures are plotted, and where right and wrong are not so easily defined. Bootlicker is for women intrigued by powerful men, men intrigued by the path to power, and all who thought they understood politics.
This was a fast-paced, action-filled book that was truly tough to put down once I started it. It catches the reader’s attention from the beginning and doesn’t let go.
The characters are multi-layered, which, in a thriller of this kind, is not always the case. Their dialogues are used in a way that reveal the character, more than just take up room on the page and their interactions are dynamic, engrossing the reader. The only thing that bothered me was that the Southern accent was written into the book, which got frustrating sometimes.
Since the author has, from his personal background, a clear understanding of how journalism and politics go together, this book rings true. We don’t feel any of it is contrived in the way that some other thrillers can be.
This was a fun book to read, with lots of action to keep us entertained, and a simple way of writing that allows the story to shine through. I do recommend it.