A New Orleans cop jumps headlong at the chance to solve the 31-year-old murder of his cousin.
Southern Louisiana public defender Neil Gross calls homicide detective Jack Brenner with the unexpected news that Gross’s client Emmett Graves, a redneck career criminal, claims to have important information about the 1972 murder of Jack’s cousin David, a star athlete and civil rights worker gunned down along with an African-American colleague. Though he’s skeptical of Graves’s veracity, Jack, who idolized his cousin, travels far to meet him and gets rewarded with a solid lead on the potential murder weapon, buried on the property of ruthless local power broker Avery Hammond. But his confab with old flame Willow Ashe, now an ambitious local TV reporter assigned to investigate the allegations by Graves, backfires when she runs with the story. At the station house—already rippling with tension because Jack’s sidelined partner Arceneaux is so impatient to get back on the street—Jack gets chewed out for his independent investigation. The volatile Arceneaux has no idea that Jack is working well with his new partner Keisha Lundy. In fact, the chief plans to keep them together on the murder case of Steven Bowen, a high-school track star who broke David’s record in the mile shortly before being shot in a phone booth.
A procedural debut awash in genre conventions, but Nelson’s lean, forceful prose shows promise.