A big time reporter finds himself at a crossroads and buying the paper in a small Maryland town. Being an outsider, he isn’t privy to all the town secrets, but a discovery by three kids has him in the middle of one of the biggest and possibly most deadly secrets he could ever imagine.
The story then moves between the years though most of the flashbacks are not ‘live’ scenes but retellings by those involved. It all begins with a tragic fire thirty years earlier in a town tight with racial tension. When a black man is accused of setting the fire, the town becomes split in two with many relationships completely severed. Now they have to face what happened and each of their roles in the act including the thought of who is really guilty. Is the man accused it still alive and if so how did he live all those years in the swamp and why did he set the fire that killed two, sweet old women? Many questions wait to be answered, but most answers just give rise to more questions. This reporter has his work cut out for him if he survives his questions.
Reading the synopsis, I admit that I wasn’t too drawn to the story, but I hadn’t gotten far into it when not the story but the writing captivated me. The writing style was fluid and poetically descriptive. I’m not huge on description as so many writers go completely overboard. I don’t need three pages of what a dress or a room looks like, but I found the way the author wrote the at times lengthy descriptive passages kept me reading through them. The reason? Most of it was more than just for description. It played a major part in the story by pointing out how even the town divided itself with its buildings, how the marsh was exotic yet dangerous, and how lonely even a crowd could be. There wasn’t just description for descriptions sake. It was important and added so much to the story.
And I have to admit that I wasn’t a hundred percent sure what the mystery solution was though I was very close. The author kept a lot of twists and turns which then kept me guessing. I had to continue reading if nothing else to find the full story of that decades long crime and how it would impact the people of today.
Excellent story. If you like mysteries with a lot of human elements including relationships from years ago, family secrets, and society issues such as race discrimination, this is a book you just have to read. I’ll be looking for more of this author’s work.