BLACKBIRD by Tom Wright


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In Wright’s second novel (What Dies in Summer, 2012), Texarkana Police Detective Lt. Jim Bonham investigates the death of psychologist Deborah Gold, found mutilated and crucified.

Gold was an easy person to want dead, with an ugly reputation for hosting a kinky BDSM club, for "lying and cheating," for pirating patients from other psychologists, and for tailoring her court testimony for the highest bidder. Suspects are multiple: fellow psychologists, disgruntled sex-club partners, even anti-Semitic survivalists. "I can’t think of anyone who didn’t dislike her," Bonham is told. The case grows more complicated when another sex-club participant is killed. It doesn’t help that Bonham’s being harassed by the city manager, who wants him fired for crossing a line to keep a fellow detective from being charged with murder. Bonham is also frustrated and angry because his wife's moved out. She wants him to give up dangerous, demanding police work and take over the family ranch. In spite of relying on the hard-worn trope of the emotionally wounded, stoic, closed-off protagonist, Wright spins a solid what’s gonna happen next? narrative from Bonham’s point of view, with flashbacks to the detective's teen years and his then-girlfriend, who disappeared under suspicious circumstances. Wright’s gift for artful language lets those scenes glow with appreciation for unbreakable family bonds and Texas ranch life, but the author’s forte is characterization: Bonham’s chief, OZ, "silent, fearless, incorruptible"; Detective Jacquanda Mouncey, jive-talking but unflappable; and incarcerated Keets, Chaplain of the Army of the Sword of the Lord, "intelligent but not smart." Bonham seeks help from his cousin, LA, herself a psychologist, and things crack open when both LA and Bonham’s wife and daughters are attacked.

Noir crime with a distinct Southern accent.

Pub Date: June 16th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-60945-270-4
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Europa Editions
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2015


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FictionWHAT DIES IN SUMMER by Tom Wright
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