Debut author Washington’s suspense novel, with strong street-lit overtones.
Bullied from childhood to adulthood by his urban neighbors, easygoing Wilson Bell seemingly finally snaps and murders one of his tormenters. Bell’s later disappearance, coupled with the discovery of large quantities of blood matching his DNA in his house, leads authorities to conclude that his victim’s friends have exacted revenge. Years after he is declared legally dead, schoolteacher ShaRon purchases his lovingly maintained home, unaware of her personal ties to the house and its violent past. She soon senses a presence, and after learning of Bell’s presumed murder, suspects his ghost has returned. Just as she is frightened into abandoning her dream house, ShaRon discovers the truth behind its haunting. Savvy readers will beat ShaRon to the punch, but that won’t lessen their enjoyment of the book. The novel traces the development of an inner-city neighborhood over a 60-year period: from tax-evading speakeasies in 1960, to crackhouses in 1980, to gentrification in 2000. Washington also offers an evocatively bleak portrayal of drug and alcohol addicts, and of individuals who fall prey simply to their lack of ambition. A few inconsistencies mar the story, such as the continued insistence that Wilson is not â€œslow”–despite the fact that his actions imply just that–and the implausibility of neighborhood thugs torturing Wilson for decades purely due to a speech impediment. A multitude of inadequately fleshed-out secondary characters with similar names causes unnecessary confusion. Further, the author’s blunt descriptions–which occasionally teeter on the edge of crudeness without having any clear purpose in advancing the plot–also detract from the novel’s many good qualities.
A thrilling read for fans of gritty fiction.