Headlong: noirish novel about news, protest, and a long hot summer

Ron MacLean's Headlong is a gripping, timely novel about a middle-aged, washed-up Boston newspaperman who returns to his childhood home from a wasted existence in LA to care for his father after a bad stroke. Nick, the protagonist, was once an idealistic muck-raker, but a failed business and a failed marriage have left him adrift and purposeless.

But his return to Boston coincides with a citywide uprising centered around a janitor's strike. Young anarchists, anti-poverty church activists, and a mass of disaffected and unhappy people take to the streets, and a long, hot summer of street-fighting, vandalism, dirty tricks and pitched battles kicks off. As Nick's father lingers in his unpaid-for hospital bed, Nick finds himself drawn back into the fray, as a journalist, a mentor to a young activist, and as an old friend to some of the key players.

Headlong is a claustrophobic, noirish novel about the news business, labor politics, protest, and murder, and it's beautifully told and smartly concluded. It has the grace to be empathetic with all sides of a hard fight where no one has perfectly clean hands, and ultimately presents a tale of redemption and hope arising from even the most impossible circumstances.