A prize-winning Southern master storyteller weaves a riveting tale of love, mystery and justice
When the Pulitzer Prize–winning cartoonist Doug Marlette last turned to fiction, Valerie Sayers rejoiced in The Washington Post Book World: "The Bridge [is] a great story—exuberant, proud, myth-challenging—and Marlette has a great, Dickensian time with the telling." Pat Conroy saluted The Bridge as the finest first novel to come out of North Carolina since Look Homeward, Angel. Studs Turkel called it "enthralling." Kaye Gibbons marveled at its "extraordinary grace [and] humor." And the Southeast Booksellers Association gave The Bridge the 2002 Book Award for Fiction.
Marlette's new novel, Magic Time, is a spellbinding stew of history, murder, courtroom drama, humor, love, betrayal, and justice. Moving between New York City and the New South of the early 1990s, with flashbacks to Mississippi's cataclysmic Freedom Summer of 1964, Magic Time tells the story of New York newspaper columnist Carter Ransom, a son of Mississippi, who had the great fortune and terrible luck of falling in love that summer of ‘64 with a New York–born civil rights worker who wound up being killed alongside three coworkers. Carter's father, the local judge, presided over the first trial of the murders. But now there's evidence that the original trial was flawed, even fraudulent. And the question, among many others, is whether the good judge was knowingly involved in a cover-up.
Magic Time is that rare thing: a page-turner whose driving plot line is matched by the depth of its moral vision.
When a terrorist group bombs a Manhattan museum, New York Examiner columnist Carter Ransom suffers an emotional breakdown and returns to his Mississippi hometown, Troy, to convalesce. Carter's father, Judge Ransom, has just retired after 40 years on the bench there; his most famous case was presiding over Troy's national disgrace: the Shiloh Church bombing, in which four civil rights activists died in 1965. At the time, Carter was a local rookie journalist who met and fell in love with Sarah Solomon, one of the volunteers who died. One man was convicted, but the instigator, Samuel Bohanon, the Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, went free. Now, as Carter begins to understand that he has never fully come to terms with Sarah's death, an ambitious young state attorney is reopening the Shiloh Church bombing case and she's going after Bohanon, along with anyone who stands in her way, including Carter's father, who, rumors say, threw the first trial to spare Sam. While this capacious second novel by Pulitzer Prize winning Kudzu cartoonist Marlette (The Bridge) doesn't travel any new turf (and despite the over-the-top climax), the author writes of the South with such affection that the novel becomes one of those stories a reader doesn't mind revisiting.