"John Verdon writes grown–up detective novels, by which I mean stories with intelligent plots, well–developed characters and crimes that have social consequences. White River Burning, featuring the author's brainy gumshoe–for–hire, Dave Gurney, checks all these boxes." —The New York Times Book Review
Tensions have been running high in White River as it approaches the anniversary of a fatal shooting of a black motorist by a local police officer. The polarized city is on edge, confronted with angry demonstrations, arson, and looting. In the midst of the turmoil, a White River police officer is shot dead by an unknown sniper. As the town spirals out of control, local authorities approach Dave Gurney to conduct an independent investigation of the shooting. White River Burning is the most provocative and timely book yet by the author hailed by The New York Times as "masterly."
In Verdon's outstanding sixth outing for ex-NYPD homicide detective Dave Gurney (after 2016's Wolf Lake), White River, N.Y., cop John Steele, who is white, is killed by a sniper on the first anniversary of the controversial shooting of Laxton Jones, a black motorist. Jones was shot by a white police officer, who later claimed self-defense and was cleared of wrongdoing by the authorities. Jones's death prompted the creation of the Black Defense Alliance, which alleged that he was probing rampant corruption in the White River PD and was deliberately gunned down. Steele was shot while attempting to maintain order at a demonstration organized by the BDA, and the chief of police believes the shooting was payback for Jones's. Brought in by the district attorney to consult on the case, Gurney has his doubts after Steele's widow shares that shortly before her husband's murder, he received a text message warning that he would be shot and the BDA would be blamed. The twisty plot builds up to a logical and satisfying reveal. Verdon expertly combines a baffling whodunit with thoughtfully drawn characters in this timely examination of racial tensions.
Great use of characters and some expected people in a great story. It is hitting home on problem happening now and hopefully not so much in the future.