From Publishers Weekly
A Depression-era land battle in the Florida panhandle forms the gritty backdrop for Wimberly's evocative coming-of-age novel. At its outset, in 1929, an African-American worker named Saint McGrue dies in a lumber-clearing accident. McGrue's son, Spence, is the best friend of youthful (white) narrator Carter Buchanan, whose father, Tink, owns the mill where Saint worked. Tink has been trying to acquire the land of his arch rival Dave Ogilvie, a tobacco grower who is also the preacher in their small rural town. The rivalry turns acrimonious when Tink plots to take control of Ogilvie's mortgage, and the situation worsens when adolescent Carter takes a romantic interest in Ogilvie's daughter, Julia, who leaves town to pursue a teaching career. Wimberly's previous novels (A Rock and a Hard Place; Dead Man's Bay) are mysteries starring detective Barrett Raines. His auspicious foray into more literary territory also turns on secrets that are gradually revealed. Young Carter is suspended within a web of conflicting loyalties to Tink, to Ogilvie and to Spence. Violence in the community and revelations about Saint McGrue's death add complications and increase suspense. The racial politics of the era take on greater importance, highlighted by local elections and a murder. Wimberly's grasp of storytelling is admirable, as Carter faces a series of moral conflicts, eventually comes to understand the tragic secret his father holds and accepts his own part in the painful past. Agent, Andrew Pope. (Oct.)
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