Justyn Jones, an aide to Governor Marston of South Carolina, and Thomas Levity, a handsome black teacher from California, are seatmates on a plane to the town of Green Hills, where Justyn lives with realtor husband Frank. Thirty years ago, Levity's father was lynched, and now the son who'd never known him wants to explore the old tragedy before getting on with his upcoming marriage and his life. Justyn's father, a suicide when she was 12, had prosecuted the lynch mob--all of whom went free, some of them still living in Green Hills. Her mother Ouida, of the very social Balantynes, is a still-beautiful alcoholic about to move into the old Balantyne mansion, now occupied solely by her bachelor brother Eddie. From the moment Levity starts asking questions and Justyn expresses an interest in the case, ominous things happen. Before the long-hidden truth is uncovered, they've run the gamut from attempted murder to killing, rape, and suicide. There are too many coincidences, too many footsteps in the dark, and the prose is too purplish at times, but Sinclair tells a convincing story of the cruel realities behind the magnolias. An accomplished debut.