A behind-the-headlines thriller digs into power, money, race, and politics in Atlanta.
Taylor (The January Girl, 2006, etc.), editor at large for the Daily Beast, brings her experiences as a political commentator, consultant, and journalist to this novel. It revolves around Victoria Dobbs, glamorous and ruthless mayor of Atlanta, and Hampton Bridges, an almost as ruthless political reporter barely hanging on to his career. The book begins with a bang, twice: first a suspicious car crash that almost kills Hampton, then a sniper attack at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s pastoral home, that leaves Victoria grazed but her mentor, U.S. Rep. Ezra Hawkins, dead. Despite her trauma, she immediately turns her considerable will toward running for Hawkins' congressional seat. She also grabs Hawkins' Bible and finds a tiny origami bird inside. Soon she'll find a second one, in the possession of another murder victim close to her. This does not scare her off; despite her upbringing among Atlanta's black elite, Victoria has a street fighter's instincts. She'll need them to go up against various power brokers in the city, black and white, on either side of the law. Hampton knows the murders are just part of the story, but he might not survive telling it. Taylor has the makings of a good political thriller, but she also deploys a huge amount of Atlanta history and political dish, so much that it can grind the novel's pace to a halt. She's good at status markers, like an inventory of Victoria's Birkin bags, but she can pile up so much descriptive detail it's distracting.
A potentially explosive plot peopled with deliciously wicked characters gets bogged down in exposition and description.