Up Jumped the Devil

Up Jumped the Devil

by Thomas Baum, Malcolm Jamal Warner
A reporter for the Baltimore Herald, Darryl Billups never wanted to be a hero. He's just a hardworking black journalist who's been passed up and looked down upon because he won't kiss butt and always speaks his mind. That doesn't change the fact that he's one of the best damn newspapermen on the East Coast and his editors know it. And soon the whole city will


A reporter for the Baltimore Herald, Darryl Billups never wanted to be a hero. He's just a hardworking black journalist who's been passed up and looked down upon because he won't kiss butt and always speaks his mind. That doesn't change the fact that he's one of the best damn newspapermen on the East Coast and his editors know it. And soon the whole city will too.

A lot of people are going to get hurt. . .I'm not playing games...I thought you might want to do something about it.

At first hew ignores the voice mail message warning him about an impending wave of white supremacist violence—just another crackpot with nothing better to do with his time than make crank phone calls. After all, Darryl has his own problems: a boss who's itching to fire him, a hot new lady love, Yolanda , who just moved in...along with her little boy, Jamal. But when bombs start to go off all over town and a noted liberal philanthropist is slain, Billups quickly becomes a believer.

The populace is in a panic. And the police don't have a clue. The devil has come to Baltimore spouting neo-Nazi garbage, and he's challenging a solitary black journalist to hunt him down.

Warned that the headquarters of the NAACP is the next target, Darryl is off and running—chasing a deadly urban nightmare to its rotting poisonous core.

But now, suddenly, the stakes are getting higher, deadlier and more personal, rocking Darryl's world in ways he never imagined possible. And with a city and his new family under siege, Darryl Billups is after justice. . .as well as the story of a lifetime. But it could cost him his life to get it.

Surprising, gritty, authentic and electrifying, UP JUMPED THE DEVILheralds the arrival of a major new voice in suspense fiction. Blair S. Walker—and Darryl Billups—are here to stay.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Walker introduces African American sleuth Darryl Billups in a debut marred by awkward writing and sloppy characterization. Billups, the police reporter for the Baltimore Herald, receives a series of anonymous telephone calls warning him that the Baltimore NAACP office will be bombed and that a prominent Baltimore philanthropist and NAACP supporter will be shot. Billups notifies the police and the newspaper but does nothing to investigate the calls. Meanwhile, alternating chapters follow the activities of fanatic Mark Dillard and his blundering four-man gang of neo-Nazis who would be laughable if they weren't so vicious: they manage to kill an undercover cop; they kill the philanthropist; and they bomb a sanitation department garage. The anonymous caller finally reveals more information about the bombing, forcing Billups to take some action to stop Dillard's group. Billups is a sorry excuse for a hero who spends his time ranting against his editor and romancing a young woman instead of investigating the case. While the third-person narrative that follows Dillard is merely plain, Billups's narration illustrates all the dangers of having a sleuth tell his own tale: cocky, self-centered and vain, he displays no wit or irony, no surprising soft spot or anything else that might make a reader want to indulge him.(Oct.)
Library Journal
In this debut mystery by the coauthor of Why Should All the White Guys Have All the Fun? (LJ 11/1/94), black reporter Darryl Billups covers the police beat for a white-owned Baltimore newspaper but has learned to handle his obnoxious boss. He begins receiving mysterious phone calls warning of murder and the impending bombing of the NAACP national headquarters by members of a neo-Nazi group. The narrative, meanwhile, traces the nefarious activities of one Mark Dillard, white supremacist. Despite Billups's own call to police, the murder occurs, galvanizing the reporterand policeinto action. Laconic prose and a scattershot approach to plot, though, may deter readers. For larger collections.
Kirkus Reviews
Mark Dillard has had it with affirmative action and the decline of old-fashioned American values. Together with his dim cohorts—a disgruntled trash collector, a handyman who's good with tools, and a hot-headed kid—he's ready to stick it to Baltimore's African-American community. First, this cadre of neo- Nazi wannabes plans to execute drugstore king/NAACP donor Sheldon Blumberg. Then they'll plant a pipe bomb in the sanitation department, and follow it up with a few trash-can specials, just to keep everybody guessing, before moving on to the main course: blowing up the NAACP headquarters. But somebody who knows Dillard's plans has been phoning black police reporter Darryl Billups at the Baltimore Herald with a series of anonymous tips. Will Darryl—who's already got his dance card full with a mugging (his own), a hot new love interest, and the smilingly unscrupulous colleagues who'd stop at nothing to steal his best stories—dismiss the androgynous tipster as a crank, or use the info to stop the killing before the NAACP building is toast?

What ought to be a foolproof nail-biter is sabotaged with so many subplots and scores to settle—the characters have as many unrelated stories to tell as the Herald's Metro section—that Dillard's crew of crazies is shrunk down to just one more nuisance in Darryl's life. But first-novelist Walker certainly has a big enough canvas for the promised series.

Product Details

Publishing Mills, Inc., The
Publication date:
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4.28(w) x 7.05(h) x 1.19(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

THE DUMBSTRUCK FACES OF THE BLACK MEN AND WOMEN trapped in the disintegrating NAACP building were what Mark Dillard recalled most vividly about the dream. That and the voluptuous woman in the tattered green dress whose breasts jiggled like Jell-O as she fell slow-motion to her death.

"Serves you right, stupid nigger bitch. Serves you right," Dillard muttered.

Groping under his bed for a smoke, he brushed his callused hand against a gritty work boot, a size 32B WonderBra and a rubber whose ninety seconds of glory had come and gone.


Dillard snapped the bedsheet off and sat upright in one athletic movement. His woman, under the influence of a marijuana/scotch sedative, never altered her light, rhythmic snoring.

A pastel Baltimore dawn gleamed faintly through the bedroom window as Dillard got down on all fours. Naked as a jaybird, straining to see in the semidarkness, he could barely make out the outline of a cigarette pack.

Last night marked the third time in a week the dream had rattled around inside Dillard's head. It never varied in detail, from the shock wave of superheated gases peeling away the front of the NAACP's national headquarters, to Dillard's dispassionate gawking.

Judging from his cool reaction, he knew he would be up to the task. D-Day was inexorably approaching, in fact, although not fast enough for Dillard.

It never occurred to him that the dream always unfolded silently, without the cataclysmic thunderclap of the bomb or the otherworldly groans of the wounded and dying.

All that mattered was that he was locked on the target.

Placing a Camel between his lips,Dillard struck a match and sat motionless, mesmerized by the quivering flame. Yellowish white at the top, indigo at the bottom, it danced a lively minuet dictated by the subtlest change in air currents. It amazed Dillard that something so small and seemingly benign could unleash such incredible destructive power.

Thank God for little miracles.

Meet the Author

The son of two Baltimore public school teachers, Blair S. Walker used to entertain himself in elementary school by writing short stories. The practice was frowned upon by instructors who wanted Walker to pay attention in class rather than secretly heed his muse. After serving in the Army as a Korean linguist, Walker attended the University of Maryland and worked as an intern reporter with the Baltimore Sun. Hired by the Orlando Sentinel after college, Walker was fired after six months by an editor who disparagingly noted that Walker’s writing ability was marginal at best! A former financial writer with USA Today, Walker has been an editor with New York Newsday and the Washington Post, and a newsman with the Associated Press. The author of three novels featuring investigative reporter Darryl Billups, Walker holds a University of Maryland J.D. degree and currently lives in South Florida, where he’s pursuing a lifelong dream of learning to fly helicopters.

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