Ancestral honor and malfeasance collide for Bland’s Illinois cops (Whispers in the Dark, 2001, etc.).
The trouble with patriarchs is their determination to control the family fortune and reputation. Josiah Smith, for instance, has instructed his clan to be somewhat less than forthcoming when Marti MacAlister (black) and Vik Jessenovik (white) of the Lincoln Prairie PD come to investigate the death of an apprentice archaeologist who had been hired to excavate their property and insure that nothing onsite would quash the plans to sell off a major portion of it to a developer. Sadly for both Smith and the deceased, the diggers find not only the remains of a Potawatomi Indian settlement but slave tags indicating that old Idbash Smith (1789–1870) had some connections, perhaps not entirely helpful ones, to the Underground Railroad. Relying on extensive forensic help, Marti and Vik patch together the Smith family saga, but not before a groundskeeper dies, they are pummeled and shot at, a weeping ghost invades Josiah’s bedchamber, and the descendents of the slave Samuel trace their lineage and hook up with the Smiths.
Forget the ghost and the Smith relatives, cold as day-old toast. The points of interest here are the Potawatomi tribe, the child-size slave manacles, and Vik’s manful efforts to grapple with his wife’s deteriorating MS condition.