A finalist the 2013 Hammett Prize, Oregon Hill's Willie Black has squandered a lot of things in his life - his liver, his lungs, a couple of former wives and a floundering daughter can all attest to his abuse. He's lucky to be employed, having managed to drink and smart-talk his way out of a nice, cushy job covering (and partying with) the politicians down at the capitol.
Now, he's back on the night corps beat, right where he started when he came to work for the Richmond paper almost 30 years ago. The thing Willie's always had going for him, though, all the way back to his hardscrabble days as a mixed-race kid on Oregon Hill, where white was the primary color and fighting was everyone's favorite leisure pastime, was grit. His mother, the drug-addled Peggy, gave him that if nothing else. He never backed down then, and he shows no signs of changing.
When a co-ed at the local university where Willie's daughter is a perpetual student is murdered, her headless body found along the South Anna River, the hapless alleged killer is arrested within days. Everyone but Willie seems to think: Case Closed. But Willie, against the orders and advice of his bosses at the paper, the police and just about everyone else, doesn't think the case is solved at all. He embarks on a one-man crusade to do what he's always done: get the story. On the way, Willie runs afoul of David Junior Shiflett, a nightmare from his youth who's now a city cop, and awakens another dark force, one everyone thought disappeared a long time ago. And a score born in the parking lot of an Oregon Hill beer joint 40 years ago will finally be settled.
The truth is out there. Willie Black's going to dig it out or die trying.
Knopf, creator of lawyer Jackie Swaitkowski (Ice Cap, etc.) and retired engineer Sam Acquillo (Black Swan, etc.), reaches a new imaginative peak with market researcher Arthur Cathcart in this outstanding revenge novel. One afternoon, Cathcart returns to his Stamford, Conn., home to find his wife, Florencia, sitting in the living room with a man holding a gun. After forcing Florencia to sign a document, the man shoots each of them in the head. Cathcart survives, but is in a coma for months. When he awakes, Cathcart succeeds, with the connivance of his physician sister, in having himself declared dead. As he begins the tortuous rehabilitation process and looks into establishing new identities, Cathcart realizes that it's almost impossible to go off the grid totally and still be able to function effectively, so he has to compromise in inventive ways. Cathcart ingeniously manages to penetrate the world of hired killers and major crime figures in his quest to discover both the who and the why behind the original hit.