Finished October 5
The Ragtime Fool by Larry Karp
This book is the third in a series featuring ragtime piano player Brun Campbell. Karp mixes real life characters with invented ones, to create a story of a man who claimed to be the only white pupil of Scott Joplin, and a man who wanted Joplin to get the fame that he deserved. Campbell was a real man, and much of his story here is based on fact, but the mystery here is an invented one.
Here, there are several people interested in Scott Joplin's journal, a book which has recently come to light. They include a man who has already written a well-received book on the history of ragtime, Brun, a woman who claims to be Joplin's daughter, and a New Jersey boy who only wants to keep playing the music that he has come to love.
This book has racial issues, social issues, romance, murder, and intrigue. The action centers on the town of Sedalia, Missouri, where Joplin was from, on the occasion of a ceremony in 1951 to honor the composer and musician. As the characters come from the east and west coasts to converge on the small town, they bring with them their own dreams, not realizing the town has its own issues.
A nice mix of history and fiction, the characters grew on me as the book progressed, and by the end I was eagerly turning the pages.