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The King of Ragtime
A Ragtime Mystery, Book #2

by Larry Karp

      If you have read The Ragtime Kid (also reviewed on this site) then you will have read the first part of this trilogy of Ragtime mysteries.† Some of the same people are in this, including music producer John Stark and the "King of Ragtime" Scott Joplin.† But is he the king still, or has the crown passed over to Irving Berlin?† Scott is dying of syphilis, and wants to be sure of his place in the roll call of musical giants.† Urged on by his keen young piano student Martin Niederhoffer, he gives his musical drama score "If" to Irving Berlin to look at.† But hasnít Berlin already purloined one of his tunes for "Alexanderís Ragtime Band?"† The day after, Martin comes upon his mentor bending over a bleeding body, and the pair flee the building.† Now they have to try and convince people that Scott isnít guilty of murder, and find out who is.

As with the first of this trilogy and First, Do No Harm (also reviewed on this site) this could be called a class act.† It is one of those too-rare books that plunges the reader into the era, not only the way it looked but also the way people thought and the trends of the time.† It is not hard to guess whodunit, and if you are a fan of the classic puzzle murder mystery then you might well be left feeling short changed.†† This is really first and foremost a book about the ragtime scene in 1916, and some knowledge of and a lot of interest in this is essential for full enjoyment.† Other characters of the time are here too, including many ragtime performers and writers and even "Ragtime" Jimmy Durante. Read this one for its mesmerizing evocation of a vanished age and the music that got people excited, and still does.

The Book

Poisoned Pen Press
October 10, 2008
1590585267 / 9781590585269
Historical Mystery / 1916, New York
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2008
© 2008