The sixth Willie Black mystery got a starred review in Publishers Weekly, which makes me very happy.
At the start of Owen’s superior sixth outing for Richmond,
Va., reporter Willie Black (after 2016’s Grace), a twin-engine Beechcraft plane
crashes into the Dark Star bar, killing 22, injuring 29, and fueling wild
speculation about the cause of the crash. Was it a terrorist act, suicide, or
an accident? The pilot is identified as David Biggio, a former Richmond
resident who was once arrested for stalking his former wife; the plane belonged
to James “Chopper” Ware, who owns a hardware store in a tiny town on the
Chesapeake Bay. Black uses all his journalistic resources, including such
strong supporting characters as Peachy Love, the police media relations person,
and elderly Jumpin’ Jimmy Deacon, who gives him a lead to Biggio’s ex-wife. As
usual, Black finds himself at odds with police chief Larry Doby Jones and with
his newspaper’s publisher, Rita Dominick. An unexpected insurance policy, the
discovery of a murder victim, and a man’s hidden past keep Black digging.
Owen’s informed treatment of Richmond and its declining daily paper is perfect.
There's so much to do here, I don't know where to start. Yesterday, we went to the opening of the French Film Festival at the Byrd Theater, our fabulous 1920s era movie palace (it'll be even more fab when they replace the seats) to see Himalaya, a wonderful movie. Going back Sunday to catch another feature.
Tomorrow is the Monument Avenue 10K, with 30K runners. I'll just have time to shower afterwards before we go to the UR-UVA lacrosse match and tailgate picnic at the University of Richmond. After that, who knows?
Got the first review of The Devil's Triangle yesterday. Here's the kicker: ."Owen produces another grim, tightly woven, and resolutely
professional piece of work with a memorably nightmarish payoff."
I have heard a lot from gloating Donald Trump supporters since Nov. 8 about "sore losers." Bullshit. If you tiptoe around the enormity of Trump's election, afraid of being a poor sport, don't. This isn't a football game. It is way more than OK to oppose him. In fact, it is patriotic to be a sore loser when what you've just lost is the assurance that you won't be living in a Fascist state in the near future. They aren't handing sportsmanship trophies for graciously accepting the theft of the First Amendment (you know, the one that doesn't involve guns). Be a good sport when your favorite team loses the big game. This is not a game, and Miss and Mister Congeniality will wake up one day and discover, as Leo Durocher once said, that nice guys (and women) finish last.
Good sportsmanship is a laudable thing––in sports. In real life, it doesn't always work, especially if the winner can't even avoid being a poor winner. Do not engage in magical thinking and believe that the strutting, lying, bullying, racist, sexist, xenophobic, pussy-grabbing Donald Trump, the guy who thinks it's fun to make fun of the disabled, was just kidding, that he'll turn into a sensible and responsible president. Face facts. He is who he is, and he is a threat to every one of us, from the basis of individual rights to the ability to cause World War III.
Make America Great? Hell, we ARE great. Our unemployment is half what it was when Obama started dealing with it. Tens of millions have health care who did not have it before. We are less dependent on foreign oil than we have been in decades. Home prices are soaring. We have the largest, greatest military in the world. Our recovery from the Great Recession greatly outstrips that of Europe. The rest of the planet envies us.
This isn't Clinton vs. George H.W. Bush, or George W. vs. Gore, or Obama vs. McCain or Romney. This is new and dangerous ground.
Trump is the president, but he is not our emperor (yet). Oppose the tyranny he wants to impose. Work for justice.
I've just finished editing changes to The Devil's Triangle (June 2017, The Permanent Press) and am about to tweak one after that, Annie's Bones (2018). Then, it'll be on to another Willie Black project. Retirement has afford me more writing time than I ever had before, but I still only spend a couple of hours a day actually writing, if that. After 44 years of newspapering, I find that I have to have self-imposed deadlines--a certain time of day to write. Journalism might not teach you to write well, but it teaches you to write something, and do it in a timely fashion.
The Devil's Triangle is my 15th novel. This stuns me sometimes. When I sat down to try to write a novel in 1989 right before I turned 40, carving out an hour a day from my newspaper job, my dream was to write just one book worth publishing, eventually. Sometimes I sit back and think what my life would be like right now if I hadn't taken that step off the cliff almost 30 years ago and tried to do what I wasn't sure at all was possible.
As with our outgoing president, whom I would miss even if he weren't being succeeded by a demented joke, I am a big believer in hope.
Many thanks to the lovely and talented Jane Nardone for the poster of the first five Willie Black books, including Grace, which comes out in October. Number six should be out next year. Willie and I are working away.
Here's the Kirkus pre-publication review of Grace, which comes out in October. Feeling good about it: GRACE, by Howard Owen
Publisher: The Permanent Press $28.00, 246 page hardcover, pub date October 31
ISBN 978-1-57962-434-7 Category: Fiction Classification: Mystery
Proof positive that despite the title of police reporter Willie Black's fourth appearance (The
Bottom, 2015, etc.), things can indeed get worse for both the city of Richmond and its daily
newspaper. No wonder Belman "Shorty" Cole, the paper's own security guard, is angry enough
to come to work with a gun he uses to threaten Willie, temporary publisher Rita Dominick, and
whomever else is within shouting and shooting distance. Shorty's 10-year-old nephew, a good
kid named Artesian Cole, has gone missing; the police don't seem to care; and his uncle is sure
the boy's dead. Soon enough the discovery of Artesian's body proves Shorty to be right, and
Police Chief L.D. Jones rouses himself enough to arrest Sam McNish, who ran Children of God,
an after-school program that had given Artesian some hope of pulling himself out of the city's
East End. The evidence against McNish is pretty much limited to the fact that he was the last
person to see the boy alive, supplemented by a steady drip of insinuations about his inappropriate
behavior toward his charges dispensed by teacher's aide Stella Barnes, who turns out to be his
spiteful ex-girlfriend. Willie's inquiries suggesting that Artesian may be only the latest in a series
of disappearances of young black males stretching back 20 years are suddenly eclipsed by the
discovery of an even more recent victim, Pulitzer Prize-winning ex-city council member James
N. Alderman, whose distinguished career of mentorship for people like Sam McNish ends when
he's tortured to death. This second murder clarifies things for Willie, but in ways that don't sit at
all well with Rita Dominick, and the race is on between his attempts to gather new evidence and
her attempts to shut him down for good. Owen uses his reflective, self-destructive hero to
illuminate both the racial problems of his hometown and the ongoing death of the newspaper he
loves, even though it doesn't love him back.