Nichelle D. Tramble. The Dying Ground (2001) 323 pp. [tpo]
In Oakland, in the fall of 1989, the drug turf wars are intensifying on the streets. Maceo Redfield, a talented baseball player who has lost his scholarship from Cal, is trying to keep from being drawn into Oakland’s drug underworld. That world reaches out and drags him in, however, when he learns of the murder of one of his closest childhood friends, Billy Crane, now a successful drug dealer. He is drawn in even further as he searches for Billy’s girlfriend, Felicia (“Flea”)—Maceo’s true love. Flea was in the car when Billy was shot and is suspected by his crew of setting him up. Maceo is torn between his desires for Flea, his need to learn the truth about Billy’s death, and his family’s attempts to keep him out trouble—they want him to return to the family home in Louisiana until things cool off. The search for Flea takes Maceo around the drug centers of the Bay Area, down to southern California, Fresno, and back to Oakland, where Flea’s family secrets threaten to change his world forever.