After a summer of serious reads it was fun to sit down and enjoy a good noir mystery, this one taking place in a small town in Virginia. It checks all the noir boxes: a woman with a checkered present, shady accomplices, dive bars, crime bosses and church ladies.
Nathan returned to Virginia after a couple of tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, he also used to work for the sheriff’s office. He now works for his cousin who is a mortician, Nathan transports the bodies. In this de facto segregated town, there is a black mortician for the blacks, and a white mortician for the whites. Nathan used to work for the sheriff’s department. Nathan is a compelling protagonist, flawed and violent, in a society that is also flawed and violent. Nathan’s parents were a biracial couple, but despite his white father, Nathan is a black man in a community controlled by white men. His violence can and does easily get him into trouble. His parents were killed by vehicular homicide. He left the sheriff’s office because they covered up the evidence of the crime, attributing the deaths to a car accident. Since leaving the sheriff’s office Nathan has helped others find answers and some justice through other means.
The story begins with the death of the Reverend Esau Watkins, who was found with a bullet wound in his home. The official line is that he committed suicide, but two parishioners come to Nathan because they believe he may have been murdered. Nothing is as easy as Nathan assumed, the plot twists and turns with get rich schemes, a corrupt preacher and his mysterious wife, a crime family, compromised police officers, the list goes on. Going into detail would just spoil the fun.
This was Cosby’s debut novel. His dialogue is snappy and often funny. The book was hard to put down. I look forward to reading more.