Medearis’ moody debut is a sensitive portrait of gentrifying Brooklyn dressed up as a whodunit.
Reddick, an artist resigned to art-handling, meets a drunk girl in an alley in Bedford-Stuyvesant and then watches her suddenly disappear into a house. It could be nothing, but it isn’t: At work the next day, he learns that the fiancee of Buckley Seward—scion of one of the wealthiest art collecting families in New York—is missing. Reddick is hanging drawings at the Sewards' estate when he sees the picture: Buckley holding the hand of a thin blonde woman, who is exactly the same thin blonde woman he met in a Brooklyn alley the night before. That she was ever in an alley in still-gentrifying Brooklyn doesn’t make sense. That the family won’t enlist the help of the police doesn’t make sense, either. Nor does it make sense to Reddick that, while the Sewards seem to rebuff his help, a different wealthy family is willing to bankroll his rogue investigation, but he’ll take it. “I have to do something,” he tells his friends. But what opens as a maybe-murder mystery quickly spirals into something else: a novel as concerned with the politics of a changing neighborhood as with finding the missing girl—a girl who may or may not actually be missing. As he peels back the layers around Buckley Seward and his associates, Reddick finds himself entrenched in the world of Brooklyn real estate while grappling with his own position as an outsider, as he’s forced to examine his motivations. “It’s very…it’s just so white male,” a friend says of his renegade investigation. “Like you’re the neighborhood’s steward, and if you don’t look out for it, no one will.” (While noble in both concern and scope, the novel is not especially subtle.) Twisty and ambitious and pleasantly brooding, it’s a compelling read, if a somewhat convoluted one.
Socially conscious Brooklyn noir.