“Draws the reader in like metal shavings to a magnet.” —New York Journal of Books
“An entertaining work of historical fiction with a touch of the noir; readers who enjoyed Don Delilo’s Libra will appreciate.” —LIBRARY JOURNAL, REVIEW (9/23)
“The dark conclusion descends into powerful moral ambivalence about love, loyalty and family.” — KIRKUS REVIEWS, REVIEW (10/15)
“Harrison’s debut mystery offers a fascinating setting for his intriguing mix of fact and fiction.”— BOOKLIST, REVIEW (10/1)
“Absolutely great. I truly enjoyed every bit of it. The plot, the boldness of the intent, and the wonderful, wonderful writing. The characters were so true and real and new to the page. I’ll never forget any of them. I’m a big fan of this book and of this writer!”— Pearl Cleage, author of Just Wanna Testify
"Our Man in the Dark is smart, snappy and fascinating. As the child of civil rights activists, I applaud Rashad Harrison's wonderfully written debut and his examination of how an ordinary man ended up on the wrong side of history." Tananarive Due, author of My Soul to Take and Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights
"Our Man in the Dark is an amazing story, amazingly told. Intrigue and sadness, race and Government, Dr. King and the FBI, foibles and loyalties this is an ambitious novel that wraps its powerful arms around what it means to be an American. Bold, rhapsodic, and daring, Rashad Harrison has written a morally-engaged masterpiece."
–Darin Strauss author of Chang & Eng, The Real McCoy, and the National Book Critics Circle Award winning memoir Half a Life
“Rashad Harrison is one of the finest young writers I’ve come across. Our Man in the Dark, is gripping, filled with historical detail that puts the reader smack in the middle of the dark days of the fight for civil rights in the ’60s. His memorable characters, most of them morally challenged, pop off the page and his tale of intrigue and betrayal will keep you reading, always wanting more.”
— Charles Salzberg, New York Times Book Review and Esquire contributor, and author of Swann’s Last Song
“What a great voice [Rashad Harrison] is employing here…utterly assured, smart, witty, and incisive…the writing is strong and clear and dead on. What an invention John Estem is as a character….Most impressive is Estem’s deadpan, quietly understated narrative voice throughout…a cool, low tone that is extremely compelling…. He unfurls one revelation after another—about himself, King, the SCLC—as if his store of them is boundless, each more outrageous (and natural sounding) than the last. What an amazing story…and what an incredible amount of inventive energy [Harrison] is displaying. It’s brave and brilliant to bring Dr. King into the story as both icon and man—especially the latter—and to do it with such verve and ease.”
— Nicholas Christopher, author of The Bestiary, Veronica, and Somewhere in the Night
"[Harrison] is an excellent writer. His prose is...strong and assured and elegant and also quite beautiful when it needs to be. His stories are mysterious and powerful."
–Jonathan Ames, author of The Extra Man, and creator of the HBO series Bored to Death
John Estem has stolen $10,000 from Martin Luther King Jr. It is 1964, and Estem has been hired by a Southern Christian Leadership Conference executive named Aaron Gant to audit the organization's books. The reactionary establishment wants to hang tax-evasion charges on King. Now Estem has uncovered an odd contribution and decided to pocket the money: "I took it because I could, and no one would ever suspect I was capable of it." An invisible man among high-powered personalities like Andrew Young, Ralph Abernathy and Gant, Estem wanted to impress Candice, a lounge singer in a dive called "Count's." Candy is also Count's girl. With money, Estem bought stylish clothes and a late-model Cadillac. A bundle of contrasts, Estem is arrogant and superior but self-conscious because of a leg brace; he's lonely for a woman's companionship but resentful because he feels patronized; and he's self-pitying and weak-willed but also intelligent and manipulative. And naive. The FBI monitors the SCLC closely, and Strobe and Mathis, agents working to fulfill Hoover's ambition of uncovering Communist influence in the group, catch Estem and extort him into spying. As with novels incorporating historical figures, readers might stumble over the contrast between public persona and fictional presentation. King's humanity is amplified by imagined conversations with Estem wherein King admits his sexual appetites, but King is also beautifully drawn as a questioning, vulnerable, lonely man consumed with his cause. Plot-reliant rather than literary, the narrative gains urgency through use of a present-tense, first-person point of view. The dark conclusion descends into powerful moral ambivalence about love, loyalty and family. Harrison's debut novel contemplates a nightmare inside a dream.