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Echoes of a Distant Summer

Echoes of a Distant Summer

4.8 17
by Guy Johnson

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“You done lived a tough life, boy, and I know I’m part responsible for that. I ain’t askin’ you to excuse me or forgive me. Just know I did the best I knew to do. I was just tryin’ to make you tough enough to deal with the world. To stand tall among men, I knew you had to be strong and have yo’ own mind.”



“You done lived a tough life, boy, and I know I’m part responsible for that. I ain’t askin’ you to excuse me or forgive me. Just know I did the best I knew to do. I was just tryin’ to make you tough enough to deal with the world. To stand tall among men, I knew you had to be strong and have yo’ own mind.”

“You were preparing me for war, Grandfather.”

Guy Johnson, the author of the critically acclaimed debut Standing at the Scratch Line, continues the Tremain family saga.

Jackson St. Clair Tremain hasn’t spoken to his grandfather King in nearly twenty years. Disgusted by the violence and bloodlust that seemed to be his grandfather’s way of life, Jackson chose to distance himself from King and live a simpler life. But now King is gravely ill, and his impending death places Jackson’s life—as well as those of his family and friends—in jeopardy. Reluctantly, Jackson travels to Mexico to see King. But after a brief reconciliation, his grandfather is assassinated, and Jackson suspects that his grandmother Serena may have had a hand in it. Jackson takes control of King’s organization, and as he does, he reflects on the summers he spent in Mexico as a child and the lessons he learned there at the knee of his strong-willed, complex grandfather.

In Echoes of a Distant Summer, Guy Johnson introduces us to a new hero, Jackson St. Clair Tremain, who learns that, like his grandfather, he must be willing to protect those he loves—at all costs.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Standing at the Scratch Line

Standing at the Scratch Line is a big, good-hearted book, carried along all but effortlessly by the power of the images it has tapped into and by Guy Johnson’s remarkably adroit writing.” —The Washington Post

“[King] Tremain has the qualifications to be one of literature’s most versatile heroes: a sharp-shooting soldier (WWI), jazz-club impresario, gangster, bootlegger, smuggler, general-store owner, vigilante, lover and, finally, doting father and grandfather.” —The Wall Street Journal

“An exuberant novel about dreaming big dreams and honoring black heroes . . . Johnson creates a credible, powerful leader with a reputation built on dead bodies—both black and white—bruised egos, and lessons about prejudice and power. . . . A page turner full of pride, energy and passionate people.” —Black Issues Book Review

“Fast-paced, intelligent . . . [This] novel presents a brief history of twentieth-century black America in the guise of a testosterone-fueled adventure yarn.” —Library Journal

Publishers Weekly
Set in 1982, this marvelously entertaining sequel to Johnson's well-received first novel, Standing at the Scratch Line, continues the mythic saga of King Tremain, a knife- and gun-wielding Prohibition-era Robin Hood. Leaving a bloody trail of corpses from the bayous of Louisiana to New York and San Francisco, King's fight for survival against overwhelming odds offers a deeply affecting metaphor for black America's struggle for dignity and rights in the 20th century. The sequel picks up with San Francisco civil servant Jackson Tremain being summoned to the deathbed of his estranged grandfather, former mob-enforcer King, who has spent the past 28 years exiled deep in Mexico after being framed for the murder of white cops in San Francisco. Jackson flies to Mexico just in time to learn that he is the heir to a $50 million fortune. Returning to the Bay Area, Jackson learns that contracts are already out on his life from enemies determined to claim the fortune, and soon both he and his girlfriend are imperiled by King's old nemesis, bayou crime patriarch Pug DuMont, who's in cahoots with Bay Area mafiosi. Secret treasure, gang wars, voodoo, illegitimate heirs, damsels in distress in the hands of a lesser writer, this would be cheap pulp fiction, but the gifted Johnson gives sweep and emotional resonance to the action-packed hijinks. (Aug.) Forecast: Johnson's bio unabashedly reminds readers that the writer is the son of Maya Angelou, which shouldn't hurt sales but Johnson acquits himself well in his own right. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Jackson Tremain, a successful and respected urban professional in Oakland, CA, in the early 1980s, is dragged back into a violent world he thought he had left behind when his dying grandfather, the legendary African American mobster King Tremain, summons him to his hideout in Mexico for a final meeting. Jackson learns that control of his grandfather's enormous financial empire will pass to him, but only on the condition that he first settles the score in a family feud stretching back 30 years. Jackson initially resists, but when thugs capture his elegant girlfriend, Elizabeth, he quickly remembers the lethal skills his grandfather taught him years before and swings into action. Johnson's sprawling narrative jumps back and forth from the 1950s to the 1980s, providing a capsule history of postwar Oakland. Partly an African American version of The Godfather, with a similar body count, this sequel achieves the high standard of page-turning readability as the first volume in the saga, Standing at the Scratch Line. For all public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/02.] Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A carefully plotted mob thriller that will leave its readers faintly exhilarated, though also unable to remember who exactly was good and bad-yet not particularly disappointed by that fact. Jackson Tremain ably takes up where his grandfather and family patriarch King left off, incorporating perhaps a touch more ennui to the still burgeoning Tremain litany of blood, mayhem, and intrigue. Johnson's follow-up features the ailing hero, King, of his first novel (Standing at the Scratch Line, 1998) in a cameo role, albeit one that demonstrates a Wizard of Oz-like ability to predict his estranged grandson's awakening. Tremain, a young, African-American city manager, must find the guts to escape the emasculating perils of bureaucracy and summon up the wherewithal to protect his grandfather's legacy. He escapes the bonds of mediocrity, and, rest assured, battles nobly, facing off against a variety of colorful, immoral louts. The story is set mainly in the summer of 1982, with background information incorporated through a series of flashbacks from the '50s and the '60s that feature vignettes from Tremain's summers at his grandfather's side. The younger man is aided in his epic quest for personal and familial salvation by an astonishingly loyal group of friends and acquaintances, some having been steeped in Tremain family struggles for 50 years, others merely innocent by-standers roused into Rambo-like righteous indignation. It seems, in fact, that the entire law-abiding Oakland community will rise up and defend one of their own when threatened by such obviously malignant forces. With a panoply of bars, trendy restaurants, dusty Mexican towns and city streets, Johnson has created an intricate pageturner that lacks any pretense of moral or ethical complexity. There is good and there is evil. Jackson Tremain will identify one from the other, and right the wrong, stirring an expectant reader's heartbeat along the way.

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Random House Publishing Group
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5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.40(d)

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Chapter 1

The Awakening of Jackson St. Clair Tremain

Tuesday, June 8, 1982

There are ominous events that occur in the sea of life, that rise above all other activities and happenings like a shark's fin above the liquid surface of a rolling wave. And so it was for Jackson Tremain when he received a call from his grandmother informing him of the death of Sampson Davis. After the call he attempted to concentrate on his daily duties, keeping a measured stroke, swimming through the passing minutes, but the meaning and importance of the call began to circle in a tightening spiral around his consciousness. He could ill afford such diversions. He had the tasks and responsibilities of a deputy city manager. Other areas that needed his full attention. He had fallen increasingly out of favor with the city manager, not for quantity nor quality of work but for things far more serious, differences in philosophy and style. Thus he had other predators in sight, ones that ate more than simple flesh.

Perhaps his response to the call might have been different if his whole morning had not begun in an unpleasant manner. Jackson had just arrived in his office when the phone began to ring. He glanced at his watch. It was seven-thirty. He put down his coffee and his cinnamon roll and picked up the receiver. The mayor¹s voice came bawling out in a blistering tirade. As a deputy city manager, Jackson had listened quietly to many such tirades; it was part of his job. He held the telephone between chin and shoulder and continued to drink his coffee, eat his cinnamon roll, and take notes all while being absolutely attentive.

The mayor's angry voice growled into the phone, "We need a Community Police Review Commission resolution to adopt during tonight's city council meeting concerning this matter. Goddamn it, this is an election year!"

Jackson listened quietly while Mayor Garrison Broadnax ranted on through the telephone receiver. He recognized that the mayor had every reason to be upset. The night before, two white police officers wearing masks while on duty in a patrol car had cruised the Chinese district of the city shouting words like gook, Chink, and slope to people on the street. The two patrolmen pulled a Chinese businessman from his truck and beat him after he cursed them for calling him racial epithets. They opened a five-inch gash in his forehead, locked him out of his truck, and left him lying in the street. They did not report the incident to police dispatch, but several scores of witnesses did. Jackson had received a call concerning the matter from one of his connections in the police department before he had come in to work that morning.

"What do you have to tell me, Tremain?" the mayor barked.

Jackson replied, "I may not have all the information. But as far as I know, the two officers in question have been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into the allegations. It's only fair to say that they are denying everything and claiming that the Police Officer¹s Bill of Rights has been violated by putting them on administrative leave. They have requested a closed hearing in front of the Civil Service Commission to challenge any disciplinary action that may be forthcoming."

"I don't give a damn what those assholes say," growled the mayor. "The Civil Service Commission will deny any claims they have."

"I hate to remind you, Mr. Mayor, but you haven't had a quorum on the commission in three months. Only five of the nine seats are filled. You still need to appoint four commissioners."

"Damn!" the mayor exclaimed, and then there were several seconds of silence. "All right, I'll appoint at least two Asians; that'll fix their butts! What¹s the ethnic breakdown of the commission now?"

"Let me check the file." Jackson got up and went over to his filing cabinet, pulled a manila folder, and returned to his desk. "Two blacks, two whites, and a Hispanic."

"Hmmm, I need to give the Hispanic community another appointment and I've got to give that white woman from the Oakland Hills area something too. . . . All right! All right! I'll announce the commission appointments tonight at the council meeting. I want that Police Review Commission resolution you're preparing on my desk by three-thirty this afternoon!"

Jackson exhaled slowly, gathered his thoughts, then spoke calmly into the phone, "Mr. Mayor, the city manager has assigned me the responsibility of preparing the agenda for the executive session for this afternoon at four. I can't possibly poll all the council members for their agenda items, prepare the revisions, if any, to the executive session agenda, attend the executive session, and prepare this resolution."

"Listen, Tremain, Bedrosian didn't want to hire you. As the first black mayor of this city, I pressed him into hiring you. He was going to hire that white girl who had come here as an administrative intern three years ago over you even though you had three times her experience.

"And one of the important reasons I supported your appointment was that I wanted to be sure I could get at least some of the inside information on the legislation that he prepares for council. You know he was here before me and he thinks he's going to be here after me. But he doesn't know me. I've been dealing with white boys like him all my life. I'm going to get this boy treed, then I'll be looking forward to seeing the back of him!"

"That's pretty strong, Mr. Mayor," Jackson chided, thinking he couldn't risk being openly disloyal to his immediate supervisor. After all, the mayor was a politician and everything was salable if the right issue arose. "I mean, some of your electorate is white."

"You know what I mean and don't waste my time with naive remarks. There's people who happen to be white and there's white people. Now get me my goddamned resolution before three-thirty! Remember who helped you get where you are."

"I understand, Mr. Mayor," Jackson replied with resignation. The mayor played this card whenever Jackson showed any reluctance to perform some extra chore for him, and whenever he played it, Jackson responded appropriately. He assured the mayor, "The resolution will be on your desk by three-thirty." No reason to make an enemy of his principal advocate.

"Jackson, my boy, I knew you'd find the time for something like this." The mayor's voice now took on a honeyed tone. "I knew you came in early to work, that's why I called before eight. This resolution doesn't have to be a three-page monster with twenty whereases either. Just something simple and to the point."

Knowing the answer, Jackson asked, "Shall I inform the city manager of this item at today's agenda luncheon?"

"Don't tell that fool Bedrosian a damn thing! All he'll do is find some pretext to delay. You know he's in bed with the police department on this matter. He and Chief Walker would love to see me defeated in this next election. Once I approve the resolution, I want you to send it directly over to the city clerk's office. She'll be waiting for it."

"You realize when you direct me to do something like this, it appears to my boss, Bedrosian, that I'm not following the chain of command. He'll know that I prepared this resolution, because I'll have to go to the agenda secretary for a number."

"As long as I'm here, you don't have to worry about him. Get it to the city clerk, I'll get her to get a number, okay?"

"Whatever you say, Mr. Mayor," Jackson replied, shaking his head. Bedrosian would still know that he prepared the resolution. As a result, Jackson knew that another confrontation with the city manager loomed. At least he had a job until the next election.

After he got off the phone with the mayor, Jackson called his administrative analyst into his office for a quick closed-door session. Corazon Benin was a short, good-looking woman in her mid-thirties who wore her lush, dark hair rolled into an attractive bun.

Meet the Author

Guy Johnson is the author of the novel Standing at the Scratch Line and a book of poetry, In the Wild Shadows. After graduating from high school in Egypt, he com-pleted college in Ghana. Johnson managed a bar on Spain’s Costa del Sol, ran a photo safari service from London through Morocco and Algeria, and worked on oil rigs in Kuwait. Most recently he worked in the local government of Oakland, California, for more than ten years. He lives in Oakland with his wife and son. He is the son of Dr. Maya Angelou. To learn more about Guy Johnson and his work, visit his website at www.guyjohnsonbooks.com.

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Echoes of a Distant Summer 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Will there be another one? Better than the first!
JazCaz More than 1 year ago
Liked this book so much I read it twice. First with my book club (we all came out in a snow storm to discuss it) and second, after reading the prequel "Standing on the Scratch Line".

I give both books very high praise.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought that after standing at the scratch line that the sequel was not going to be as good. I was wrong. Cant wait for another. It is a real cliff hanger.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was one of the best novels I have ever read also I read his first book Standing at the scratch line the best books I have ever read I hope there is a sequal to Echoes of a Distant Summer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
if you enjoyed standing at the scracth line then you're going to love echoes of a distant summer. this book is even more of a page turner than the 1st book. this is better than the godfather.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The one exception I have to take with Guy Johnson is that there isn't a sequel to Echoes of a distant summer. Great read!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I very much enjoyed this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Johnson has made the Tremains'live through all the men in the family. I still have to say Serena is the queen of the Tremains' whether the men like it or not. They should really make this into a movie and it should be John Singleton, Spike Lee, and Jerry Bruckheimer all come together and put these two stories on screen.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guy Johnson's book 'Standing at the Scracth Line' has made my top 10 best reads. The rich language and poetic imagery of the author totally astonished me. I did not know there were such writers still left in the world. I know these characters, I relate to their hopes and dreams. Guy Johnson with his artistic vision has connected the dots for a time period that helps me understand my beloved grandfather who showed me what being a man was all about. I would LOVE to just have a 1 hour interview with Mr. Guy Johnson! Every Black male in America (world) should get BOTH of his books! Peace!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved 'Standing at the Scratch Line'. I kept hoping and wishing that Guy Johnson would write a sequel and he didn't disappoint me. I love action stories and there are so few of them featuring Black heroes or heroines. King Tremaine had to be as hard as the times he lived in to thrive and survive. His grandson, Jackson St. Clair, the hero of 'Echoes of a Distant Summer' has the problem of protecting his family from 'Kings' long-lived enemies and he will need his Grandfathers organization to do this. I would enjoy seeing a third novel which shows if he can keep the absolute power his organization gives him from corrupting him and how he trains those who will come after him. Keep it up Guy Johnson. Never has mayhem been more enjoyable.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i thought standing at the scratch line was as good as it could get,but after reading echoes of a distant summer,iknow that the literary world has found a force to be reckoned with in mr.guy johnson.
Guest More than 1 year ago
an excellent sequel. if a part three is not in the works i will be truly disappointed. i need more tremain in my life. down with the dumonts!! and the dimarcos!! and the vicentes!! we all need more tremain in our lives.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read "Standing at the Scratch Line" almost 5 years ago, and it was one of the best books I'd ever read. However, to my amazement I could have never imagine another well written book, not to mention a sequel. What a wonderful story line these two books have to offer. If you love reading and collecting good books these two are definitely a must to have. When talking about books, I try every chance I get to promote "Standing at the Scratch Line", now I have another one to go with that. Please, don't buy one without the other.