Willie Black works the night cop beat at a Richmond Virginia newspaper, where technology and the economy's downturn combine to darken his prospects. He and his colleagues await the day when they’ll be told to clear out their desks, but surely there’s still a place for honest reporting and investigation; it’s just hard persuading those paying the bills that real news shouldn’t be silenced.
Howard Owen’s The Philadelphia Quarry is his second Willie Black novel. Favorite characters are back, but readers really don’t need to have met them before; the story stands alone as a fast-flowing, deeply evocative, character driven mystery, with just occasional enticing reminders of what has gone before.
A black man is released from jail after DNA evidence overturns his conviction for rape. But the victim’s family carries lots of weight in town and on the newspaper. When questions are asked about the past, the powers that be go to great lengths to silence them. Meanwhile Richard Slade is arrested again for another crime, and Willie finds himself teamed with his ex-wife, searching for evidence to support his growing belief in the other man’s innocence. The paper’s somewhat racist opinion columns make Willie’s welcome on the wrong side of town rather uneasy. But Willie Black has secrets and sources of his own.
A modern noir mystery with convincing characters, evocative locations, and a wonderful feel for the changing world of news, The Philadelphia Quarry offers a plot that’s neither overly complex nor too simple, while exploring the relationships of parents and children through families rich and poor, black and white, and in-between.
Disclosure: I received a free bound galley of this novel from the publisher with a request for an honest review.
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