Mysterious Book Report No. 430
by John Dwaine McKenna
Although this novel was released in late 2020, it’s still as timely as tonight’s news. That’s because it’s about racism and how it’s felt from both black and white perspectives.
Old Anger, (Brash Books, PB, $18.99, 277 pages, ISBN 978-1-7343480-7-1) by Phillip Thompson, takes place in present day rural Mississippi and features a white, small town sheriff named Colt Harper. He’s a local man who grew up on the area; joined the US Marine Corps. after high school; served in the war in Iraq and returned to his hometown, where he eventually became the County Sheriff. He knows everyone in the area—and along with his friend and main deputy, John Carver, a black man and fellow marine who saw combat with Harper in the Middle East—Colt assumes that he knows all that’s happening in the county where he was born and raised. But the truth is . . . he doesn’t.
The novel begins when the body of a black man named Lucius Wallace is discovered in a gravel pit. He’s been murdered, and his death sets off a chain of events that are reminiscent of the vicious kind of racial episodes which took place in the south during the 1950s and earlier . . . turning Sheriff Colt Harper’s world upside down and shattering his belief in harmony between the blacks and whites who live in the community.
When the first arrest in the case turns out to be a well-respected black minister and local leader with motive, means and opportunity, the black community goes into mass demonstrations and protests, accusing the beleaguered sheriff of racism, and causing him to examine his long-held beliefs. After new and further evidence exonerates the man . . . the white community believes Harper has let a murderer loose in their midst. But when two other murders of black men take place in quick succession, the seething racial resentment is near the boiling point. Sheriff Harper and Deputy Carver battle to keep the peace, catch the killer, and bring justice to both races, while outside forces try to start a race war and burn it all down in this thought provoking and easy reading whodunit whose pages are smoking with drama and oozing with irony!
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