It's 1951, and ragtime is making a comeback. In Sedalia, Missouri, plans are underway for a ceremony to honor Scott Joplin. Brun Campbell, the old Ragtime Kid, is working to establish Joplin's legacy. Brun learns of a journal Joplin kept and wants to show it to Sedalia's movers and shakers, hoping to persuade them to set up a ragtime museum. Unfortunately for Brun, author/historian Rudi Blesh is deter - mined to publish the journal. But Joplin's old friend wants to suppress the material. Even worse, two Sedalia Klansmen are hot after the journal and don't care if they have to kill someone to get it. What's one murder, compared to the Klansmen's grand plan to blow up the high school auditorium with its integrated audience during the ceremony? In the middle of this imbroglio is Alan Chandler, a 17 - year - old pianist in love with ragtime. If Alan can stay alive, he may be able to prevent catastrophe and learn what it really means to be Black in 1950s America.