cover image The Ragtime Kid

The Ragtime Kid

Larry Karp, . . Poisoned Pen, $24.95 (353pp) ISBN 978-1-59058-326-5

Ragtime suffuses the very air of 1899 Sedalia, Mo., in Karp's sweet-natured historical featuring Scott Joplin and the fictional 16-year-old white boy Brun Campbell, who ignores the racial divide in his determination to play piano Joplin-style. Brun runs away from home in Oklahoma and stumbles on the body of a young woman just hours after arriving in Sedalia. He carelessly grabs a locket and a money clip off the corpse, but soon learns that the objects will incriminate Joplin. To protect his idol, Brun decides to find out who the real murderer is. Karp (First, Do No Harm ) does a wonderful job of depicting a town steeped in music history and in portraying Joplin, but the mystery plot pivots on a point that most readers will find hard to swallow, and the identity of the killer comes as little surprise. (Nov.)