A debut novel follows a man who endures personal loss and racial discrimination as a devoted parent, CIA agent, and university professor.
As a person of color growing up in 1950s America, David Walton is no stranger to racism. In high school, his paper on buffalo soldiers results in his teacher accusing him of plagiarism, merely due to her ignorance of the subject. But his intellect scores the teenager a job at an engineering firm. It’s also the reason he becomes an intelligence analyst in the Army as well as an analyst and field operative later for the CIA. In the meantime, David falls for Valerie Olephant, and they have two sons together. He’s a dedicated father, though his relationship with Valerie sadly doesn’t last. David’s CIA work, pairing him with mathematician Ken Carle, can be dangerous, like their assignment to thwart whoever is intercepting money and weapons shipments intended for Sudanese rebels. In subsequent years, David earns a doctorate in psychology and becomes a university professor. He also falls in love with Ann Hickman, a romance complicated by her husband, Philip, whose company, Tremont Pharmaceutical, is responsible for the antidepressant drug David believes killed a loved one. Grey skillfully builds a stable foundation for the characters, especially David, with an occasional focus on Ken and Philip as well. The smart, deliberately paced prose gradually molds David into a stalwart, likable hero. He suffers racism, but the story covers all aspects of his life, including playing baseball in high school and aiming to break a home run record. While David’s CIA mission involves an arms dealer and a potential mole, this espionage subplot showcases skilled operatives and, therefore, offers minimal suspense. Still, David unflinchingly faces myriad obstacles in the engrossing novel; his affair with Ann, rather than being titillating, becomes a troubling love story.
An engaging coming-of-age tale that meticulously examines its audacious protagonist. (author bio)