I usually tell people who ask what I do for a living that I am a recovering journalist; I worked at daily newspapers for 18 years before jumping ship and finding a new career path. Nothing that has happened in the media business in general or newspapers in particular has changed my mind about the wisdom of my mid-career change, even as I mourn the ideals with which I entered the business back in the 1980s.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this novel, featuring a nearly washed-up journalist in Richmond, Virginia, who has to battle his past as well as his bosses to find the truth behind a series of murders in his Oregon Hill neighborhood. Willie Black was an extremely appealing narrator and protagonist. I was rooting for him all the way through, and found his ambivalence about facing his less-than-privileged past quite realistic. The newspaper bits also had a ring of truth about them, only a little bit idealized — but then as my colleagues and I always proclaimed, you could never write a true novel about newspapers because nobody outside of the business would ever believe it. This novel was believable as well as enjoyable. I’d like to read more about Willie and his cohorts.