Jahmal Mayfield discusses Smoke Kings

Author Jahmal Mayfield told Patrick Millikin from The Poisoned Pen that he wanted to talk about race with honesty. He said we don’t want to have honest conversations about race. Mayfield’s novel is Smoke Kings. It’s available through the Webstore. https://bit.ly/49fEVcg

Here’s the description of Smoke Kings.

“As everything goes up in flames, Mayfield leans all the way into the discomfort zone” – Sarah Weinman, The New York Times

“A fresh and fierce new voice to crime fiction...a stunning book that takes the reader on an intense and harrowing journey that is truly unforgettable. Consider me a big fan.”— Don Winslow, New York Times bestselling author of The Cartel, The Force and City on Fire

“Jahmal Mayfield roars to the top of the writer-to-watch list with this sizzling debut. Smoke Kings is straight fire. Every page simmers with an undercurrent of rage, each line a hard dose of smoldering truth. I can’t wait to see what Mayfield does next.” – Eli Cranor, Edgar Award Winning Novelist of Don’t Know Tough

In the vein of Get Out and Razorblade Tears, a feast of noir fiction and probing social commentary that asks us to consider what would happen if reparations were finally charged and exacted.

Nate Evers, a young black political activist, struggles with rage as his people are still being killed in the streets 62 years after Emmett Till. When his little cousin is murdered, Nate shuns the graffiti murals, candlelight vigils, and Twitter hashtags that are commonplace after these senseless deaths. Instead, he leads 3 grief-stricken friends on a mission of retribution, kidnapping the descendants of long-ago perpetrators of hate crimes, confronting the targets with their racist lineages, and forcing them to pay reparations to a community fund. For 3 of the group members, the results mean justice; for Nate – pure revenge.

Not all targets go quietly into the night, though, and Nate and his friends’ world spirals out of control when they confront the wrong man. Now the leader of a white supremacist group is hot on their tail as is a jaded lawman with some disturbingly racist views of his own.

As the 4 vigilantes fight to thwart their ruthless pursuers, they’re forced to accept an age-old truth: “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”

Smoke Kings is a powerful and propulsive novel with a diverse and unforgettable cast of characters. Like Steph Cha’s Your House Will Pay it explores decades of racial tensions through a fictional landscape where the line between justice and revenge is blurred.

Jahmal Mayfield  was born in Virginia but currently resides in New Jersey. In addition to writing crime fiction, he serves as the director of a nonprofit program that provides employment support to people with disabilities. SMOKE KINGS was inspired by Kimberly Jones’ passionate viral video, “How can we win?

Here’s the conversation with Jahmal Mayfield and Patrick Millikin.