Bigotry, hate, avarice, murder: it’s all front-page news for a little weekly paper in Mississippi.
It takes just one phone call to involve Pelican Bay Crier publisher Nell McGraw in the sins of the past and present. Nell has barely been coping with the death of her husband, Thom, whose family founded the Crier and who was recently killed by a drunk driver. But when her friend Kate Ryan calls to say she's discovered some bones—they had been buried under a tree that was struck by lightning—Nell heads right out to what will become a crime scene. Neither Sheriff Hickson, who covers Tchula County, nor Acting Police Chief Brown of Pelican Bay shows much interest in this cold, cold case even though three bodies are unearthed, one chained and shot in the head. Nell’s already dealing with her daughter’s snarky teenage attitude and her mother-in-law’s disapproval. Only unexpected support from the team at the Crier keeps her going. The local mayoral election introduces her to two of the candidates, the white scion of a wealthy local family and a talented African-American man who once published a newspaper for the black community and is willing to share his memories when it’s revealed that at least two of the victims were black and murdered during Mississippi’s drive for voter registration. With the help of her staff, Nell starts digging out nefarious schemes that cheated black owners out of their land years ago. Every headline she publishes brings more pressure and more threats, which only make her more determined to uncover the truth.
Reid’s exciting debut, filled with action and philosophical musings about the enduring weight of the past, will make you both sad and mad.