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A Rock and a Hard Place
     

A Rock and a Hard Place

by Darryl Wimberley
 

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Barrett Raines is a black detective on an isolated police force in Deacon Beach, a sweltering enclave on the Gulf Coast of northwestern Florida. Barrett's worked all his career to live up to the faith Romana Walker, Deacon Beach's eternal Homecoming Queen, showed in him when she pushed Barrett onto the all-white force in the face of local and bigoted opposition.

Overview

Barrett Raines is a black detective on an isolated police force in Deacon Beach, a sweltering enclave on the Gulf Coast of northwestern Florida. Barrett's worked all his career to live up to the faith Romana Walker, Deacon Beach's eternal Homecoming Queen, showed in him when she pushed Barrett onto the all-white force in the face of local and bigoted opposition. Seven years later, Raines has made a place for himself and his schoolteacher wife in the hard-bitten community--to all appearances they are accepted.

But affections can be fickle, as Barrett discovers when his despised elder brother, Delton Raines, becomes the chief suspect in the investigation of the brutal rape and murder of Ramona Walker. It's a no-win for Barrett. If he cannot find the much-loved Ramona's killer, locals will say he's shielding his brother. But if Barrett nails Delton for the crime, the detective's neighbors will say that he has used his badge to hang a brother he hates.

There's a lynch mob brewing on The Beach, and the only way to calm the ugly waters is for Barrett to bring Ramona's killer to justice.

There are a lot of things Barrett hates about this case. But what he hates most is that the only lead he has in the investigation comes form a prevaricating, hell-raising brother whom he has to trust.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Barrett Raines, the only black detective on an all-white police force in Deacon Beach, Fla., is forced to choose between his duty to society and his loyalty to his family in this unpolished yet promising debut. Barrett's brother Delton has always been a thorn in his side. Despite Barrett's stellar record, Delton's reputation for womanizing and drinking has kept his sibling from getting the respect he's long deserved in his racist hometown. Yet when Delton is accused of murdering a beautiful, popular white restaurant owner in a fit of passion, the only person between him and a lynching is Barrett. The cop arrests his brother--the evidence against Delton is powerful, if circumstantial--and then sets out to unravel the truth, though his digging is complicated by his mistrust of his self-serving sibling. Barrett soon discovers that the killing may be tied to arms dealers based in Deacon Beach. Wimberly's prose is spare and his dialogue catchy. The novel contains excess exposition that often interrupts momentum, however. In addition, a subplot involving Barrett's wife and two sons drags on the narrative, and some of the switches in point of view can be confusing. In short, the book reads like a novel in search of a final draft. Wimberly's launch may not be for readers looking for sophisticated intrigue and complex plotting, but its successful depiction of small-town corruption should appeal to those with a fondness for the pulpy side of the tracks. (July) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Detective Barrett Raines overcomes racial prejudice to become the first black detective on the Deacon Beach, FL, police force. When his ne'er-do-well older brother stands accused of murdering a popular white woman, however, local prejudices reemerge. Can Barrett maintain the equilibrium necessary to investigate the case and fend off the unwanted stress? He can, and he follows a tiny clue that leads from purported blackmail to money laundering and gun smuggling. Glittering nuggets of detail, energized prose, and an admirable detective make this first mystery most worthwhile. Strongly recommended. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Everybody in Deacon Beach goes to Ramona's. It's not for the food or the service or the North Florida breezes, though all of those are fine, but for Ramona herself, an effortlessly flirtatious cat of a woman who's got half the men in town on a string. Then one night the string snaps, and Ramona's found raped and murdered. The prime suspect is explosive Delton Raines, whom Ramona had just fired. But Delton's brother Barrett, senior detective on Deacon Beach's police force, can't believe Delton would do such a thing; instead, he believes Delton's story that Ramona had been involved in money-laundering and gunrunning, even though Delton admits that he'd been blackmailing Ramona and had left her bed minutes before she was killed. It's the old conflict between love and duty, or it would be if there were any love lost between decent Barrett and his troublemaking brother. Rather than a lot of mystery-mongering, first-novelist Wimberley, a screenwriter, provides snapshots of the gunrunners, who evidently spend all their time playing poker, and hints of racial discord in Barrett's past. But that's all over now; despite a few ugly epithets, most of the white citizens of Deacon Beach are as nice as pie to Barrett•including, presumably, Ramona's killer. Long on Gulf Coast atmosphere, short on twists and tension. Barrett's got real problems, all right; you just can't help feeling that they'll work out.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781466836877
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
07/02/1999
Series:
Detective Barrett Raines Mysteries , #1
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
1,191,783
File size:
308 KB

Meet the Author

Darryl Wimberley is a native Floridian living with his family in Austin, Texas. Rock and a Hard Place is the first in a Florida based narrative series featuring homicide investigator Barrett Raines.


Darryl Wimberley is a winner of the Willie Morris Prize for Southern Fiction. His books include A Rock and a Hard Place and Dead Man's Bay. A native of northern Florida, he now lives in Austin, Texas.

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