Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.Martin Luther King, Jr.
Nothing More Dangerous is the second Allen Eskens book I have read. The first was The Life We Bury in which Boady Sanden, a law professor, is a minor character. In Nothing More Dangerous, Boady is a 15-year-old boy who has no intention of going to college. His only goal is to save enough money from working at a local drywall business so that he can run away when he is 16 from the small town of Jessup, Missouri. The life-changing events that occur to Boady from the end of his Freshman year of high school and through that summer of 1976 help explain why he changed his trajectory and studied law.
Boady Sanden lives with his lonely, widowed mother in a small house on Frog Hollow Road, out in the country. His father died when Boady was only 5 years old. His mother also works for the drywall company, where the owner is hiding a secret of his own. After his father’s death, a man named Hoke Gardner, who has an injured arm and a scar on his face, moves in next door. Hoke is always kind to Boady, but his past life is a mystery.
Just before the end of the school year, Boady learns about the disappearance of a woman named Lida Poe, an African-American woman who worked at the local plastics factory, Ryke Manufacturing. After her disappearance, it was discovered that a good deal of money had been stolen from the factory. The mystery of Hoke Gardner becomes a much greater curiosity after Boady overhears the sheriff questioning Hoke about his past relationship with Lida Poe.
The corporate office of Ryke Manufacturing, located in Minneapolis, sends down Mr. Elgin, also an African-American, to take over the factory. Mr. Elgin, his wife, and his son Thomas move into the large vacant house across the street from Boady and his mother. Mr. Elgin suspects that a male employee to be involved, but Sheriff Vaughan happens to related to him, and the investigation into the embezzlement stalls. When Boady and Thomas stumble across evidence relating to Lida Poe, the Sheriff shows his ineptitude in preserving the crime scene.
In one of their many talks, Hoke explains to Boady, there are many people who have a “Us” against “Them” mentality. As Boady’s friendship grows with Thomas Elgin, he is also hounded by the members of a white supremacist group known The Corps to make amends for an incident that happened at school. Boady learns first-hand about discrimination and cronyism in this well-written coming of age story.
Rating and Book Club Recommendation:
I give this book 4-Stars. It was a little slow in some places. I listened to the Audible version and had to turn the speed up to 1.25% since the narrator spoke so slowly. This book is appropriate for Young Adults and would make a good book club discussion.