By Ben H. Winters
Mulholland Books/Little Brown and Company, 2016. 327 pgs. Fiction
Underground Airline is a terribly original work of speculative fiction. It takes place in a world just like our own except that the American Civil War never happened and slavery is still legal in four states.
The protagonist is Victor, a resourceful black man who works for the U.S. Marshall Service. He uses his impressive skills to track down escaped slaves and return them to their rightful owners in exchange for his own continued freedom. The current case takes Victor to Indianapolis where he quickly perceives he doesn’t have the whole story and much more is on the line than the life of this one run-away slave.
I am not sure exactly what I was expecting with this book but it is definitely not what I found. Think a gripping Dirk Pitt adventure mixed with the social commentary of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ recent Between the World and Me. I honestly couldn’t put it down while I was reading it and doubt I’ll ever be able to let go of its influence on how I view our world and country.