on Dec. 13, 2012
The place is Miami. The time: New Year's Eve, on the brink of the 1990s, and chaos is close. A Cuban cop shoots an unarmed black teenager. The streets erupt in race riots. Reporter Mike Baedecker, recently returned to his hometown, is there to cover it -- but complications abound. His Cuban girlfriend and a black colleague view the events quite differently.
Ad there's another outside influence: an audiotape left to Baedecker by his late father, who preceded him at the Miami Times and recalls, for his son, the arson fire in downtown Miami a dozen years earlier -- the story that compelled and haunted him as the shooting-and-riot story does the younger Baedecker.
In "The Tinderbox," author David Holmberg, a veteran newspaperman who knows Miami well, paints a picture of a city in turmoil, a cauldron in which race relations and courtroom drama simmer. Central to the action is the newsroom at a time before blogging and Tweeting began to masquerade as journalism. In the Miami of the late 1970s and '80s, the side-by-side stories of father and son recall the passion of newspapering, of finding and telling as true a story as can be told.
Holmberg's writing is crisp, clear and evocative, his story compelling.