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The Color of Justice
     

The Color of Justice

5.0 4
by Ace Collins
 

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Two racially charged cases. Two attorneys searching for the truth. But only one will stay alive long enough to find it.

1964

Justice, Mississippi, is a town divided. White and black. Rich and poor. Rule makers and rule breakers. Right or wrong, everyone assumes their place behind a fragile façade that is about to crumble. When attorney

Overview

Two racially charged cases. Two attorneys searching for the truth. But only one will stay alive long enough to find it.

1964

Justice, Mississippi, is a town divided. White and black. Rich and poor. Rule makers and rule breakers. Right or wrong, everyone assumes their place behind a fragile façade that is about to crumble. When attorney Coop Lindsay agrees to defend a black man accused of murdering a white teenager, the bribes and death threats don’t intimidate him. As he prepares for the case of a lifetime, the young lawyer knows it’s the verdict that poses the real threat—innocent or guilty, because of his stand Coop is no longer welcome in Justice. As he follows his conscience, he wonders just how far some people will go to make sure he doesn’t finish his job?

2014

To some, the result of the trial still feels like a fresh wound even fifty years later, when Coop’s grandson arrives in Justice seeking answers to the questions unresolved by the trial that changed his family’s legacy. When a new case is presented, again pitting white against black, this third generation Lindsay may have the opportunity he needs to right the wrongs of the past.

But hate destroys everything it touches, and the Lindsay family will not escape unscathed.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
★ 11/15/2014
Collins's (The Cutting Edge; Darkness Before Dawn) gripping legal thriller features two generations of Mississippi lawyers who dare to take racially charged cases. In 1964 Justice, MS, Coop Lindsay, a white attorney, is asked by an African American woman to help her grandson, who has been charged with rape and murder. The town is heavily divided over the issue, and, ultimately, Coop is killed and the defendant disappears. Fifty years later, Coop's grandson returns to the town to take on an eerily similar case. As he digs for the evidence, he finds clues to the identity of his grandfather's killer that will help him solve the current and past cases. VERDICT Collins has written a fast-paced, plot-driven tale of suspense that is reminiscent of Greg Iles's Natchez Burning. The graphic details of life in the deep South during the civil rights movement and today's civil unrest will resonate with readers.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781426770036
Publisher:
Abingdon Press
Publication date:
10/07/2014
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
533,538
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Color of Justice


By Ace Collins

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2014 Ace Collins
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4267-9612-8


CHAPTER 1

1964

1


Saturday, June 20, 1964

As her vision became accustomed to the dimness of the rural night, sixteen-year-old Wendy Adams gazed through the windshield, lifted her eyebrows, frowned, and then glared at Frank Baird. The Justice High School senior simply wouldn't give up. This was his big surprise! This is why he'd told her to keep her eyes closed for the past five minutes. Leaving the VFW dance early had all been a ploy to get her alone and to this spot.

As Frank inched closer, Wendy shook her head and apprehensively hissed, "You're pretty sure of yourself. Do you honestly believe getting me up here will somehow change the rules? This is beneath even you. Now, let's turn the car around and go home."

"Ah, come on, Babe," Frank begged, switching off the long, sleek, '63 Pontiac's motor and moving across the wide bench seat to where his lips were just inches from hers. "Just a few minutes out here in the moonlight will change your life forever! Besides, with your body, those blue eyes, those full lips, and your perfect chin, you're wasting what every other girl in school wishes she had. I mean you're as close to Sandra Dee as Mississippi has ever seen."

He was attractive. He did have a certain animal charm. So, as he dipped his head even lower, she was tempted to meet him halfway, to give in to his will and compromise her own, but the thought of sitting beside her mother at church the next morning caused her deeply ingrained moral fiber to once more wrestle control from her suddenly fluttering heart.

Pushing herself up against the passenger door, she hesitantly announced, "We're going home now."

"Not unless you're walking," he replied with a grin. "And it's a long way back to town. Just might wear those heels out before you get there."

Even as she glared at him, he edged closer, never taking his eyes off hers as he reached over and switched on the radio. Suddenly, the strains of Lesley Gore's "It's My Party" filled the Pontiac's interior. A few moments later, his lips once more within inches of hers, Frank whispered, "And it's our party, too."

Ricky Nelson couldn't have charmed her using such a cheap line. It not only ruined the moment, it reset Wendy's moral radar. Reaching for the door handle, she yanked it, spun to the right, and stepped out into the warm summer night. Slamming the Pontiac's door behind her, she took a half-dozen steps down toward the creek before stopping to lean up against a century-old elm tree. As her blue eyes stared down into the barely moving water, she heard a car door open, close, and then footsteps in the grass behind her. She was hoping he was coming to apologize, but those hopes were quickly dashed.

"Wasted trip," Frank barked as he took a spot on the other side of the eighty-foot tree. "I guess I'm just not your type. In fact, I don't think you have a type. You shoot every guy down before the game even starts. Last fall, you were crowned the homecoming queen, and tonight you won the title of the ice princess."

She moved forward and glanced around the elm's large trunk at Frank. He was tall, a bit over six-foot, lean but toned, his shoulders wide and hips narrow. He had deep brown eyes and wavy black hair. He was not handsome in the way Hollywood defined it, but he did have rugged good looks that made him stand out in a crowd. Sadly, those gifts framed an attitude proving he believed himself to be God's gift to the world. It was his attitude that canceled out his myriad positive traits, as well as shaking all desire from her head and heart. And his smug brashness was the reason she found the strength to coldly declare, "You've accomplished nothing more than proving you're not a gentleman."

"Never claimed to be one," he shot back.

At least he was honest. She'd hand him that much. He didn't want to be the school's best citizen. He never claimed to walk the straight and narrow. He only wanted what was in front of him at the moment.

Tearing her eyes from his lustful gaze, Wendy tried to understand her own convoluted feelings. Why was his pull so strong? Why, when every boy in school dreamed of going out with her, did she say yes to Frank? Why did she have to be the good girl when she wanted something no good girl should want?

Pushing herself off the tree, Wendy took two steps forward and glanced around at the place the kids called Lovers Park. She had to admit, in a cheap sort of way it was romantic. The moonlight, the breeze rustling through the trees, and the gurgling of the slow-moving creek did create a natural setting for intimacy. Though there were some clouds, it was still clear enough that the stars did offer something to wish on as the solitude brought about a false sense of independence and maturity. Even nature seemed to be whispering, "Give in to your desires." While she was tempted, she couldn't listen—at least not tonight and surely not with Frank. But each second she was mute, as each moment went by with no words spoken, it likely convinced him that this trip had not been for naught. Even now, he probably thought she was reconsidering. So, she had to say something, no matter what it was, to prove she was in control.

"I don't know about wasted," she began, trying to be forceful and bold, "I mean, I've always wondered what this place looked like. I've heard whispers at school, you know, from those kind of girls, but all of my friends are a bit too proper to visit this spot."

"They're not that proper." Frank grinned. "They just don't admit they've been here."

She ignored both his insinuation and the fact that he'd once more closed the distance between them. As she felt his breath on her neck, she knew she had to restart the conversation or face fighting him off again.

"Isn't this where you had the hot dog cookout I heard about a month ago?"

"How did you hear about it?" He pulled back, seeming genuinely surprised. "And besides, it was more than two months back."

Wendy grinned; she'd gotten him to back off. "Well," she sang out, "Becky admitted to me she was here, and it wasn't really a cookout, but rather a make-out session."

"Yeah," he admitted, "and Becky was a willing participant."

"That's not the way she told it," Wendy shot back, fearing she had once more lost control.

Frank laughed. "We didn't roast hot dogs, but we were doing some cooking and we did have a fire. Want to see where it was?"

"I'm not sure I need to get any farther from the car," she replied apprehensively.

Moving closer, he reached out to touch her left hand and, in a suddenly assuring tone, "You can trust me. I won't make you do anything you don't want to do."

She hesitated, took a deep breath, and shook her head just hard enough for her blonde ponytail to bounce. "Nobody makes me do anything I don't want to do."

"I kind of got that," he replied.

Wendy took his hand and allowed him to lead her down by the creek and deeper into the shade of a half-dozen sixty-foot trees. When, after only a dozen steps, he put his arm around her shoulder and draped his hand dangerously close to her chest, she wondered if this had been such a good idea.

"That's where the fire was," he said, using his right hand to point to a spot down by the water.

The moonlight was just bright enough to see where the rocks had circled the space. As her eyes grew accustomed to the shadows, she noted there were still a few charred logs piled in the center.

"It must have been a pretty big blaze," she observed.

"Big enough," he explained. "But not so big anyone came up here wondering what was going on. And your friend looked beautiful in the flickering light. I do remember that."

Trying to ignore what he was implying, Wendy observed empty bottles thrown down by the creek. She'd heard that some drinking had fueled the party, and she wondered if Becky, the president of her church youth group, had been a part of it, too.

As Wendy's eyes moved from the bottles up to the creek bank, she spotted a few large trees fallen at least a generation before. She imagined they'd offered places where couples used to sit, snuggle, and kiss. Her curiosity was about to completely overwhelm her principles, when her eyes caught something obviously out of place.

"What's that?" Wendy asked, pointing out the object to her date.

His eyes followed her fingers until he saw it, too. Dropping his arm from her shoulder, he jogged over to the spot, leaned closer, and picked up what she had spied. Pushing it back toward her, he proudly exclaimed, "Someone must not have gotten home with all her clothes. Wonder how she explained it to her parents, and wonder when she lost it."

Wendy quickly moved across the ground to where the smirking Frank stood holding the prize. "Let me see it." She held up the light blue blouse, moving it out of the shadows and into the moonlight. The monogrammed B immediately gave away the garment's owner. "It's Becky's," she sighed.

"I'd thought she was almost as icy as you are," he sniped. "I guess someone else may have found the defrost button."

"Not funny," Wendy protested, tossing the blouse back his way. "We don't really know what happened, and I need to talk to Becky before you breathe a word of it to any of your friends."

"My silence can easily be bought," he shot back. "And it doesn't take money. Come here and kiss me."

"You're disgusting." She sighed, even as he pulled her into his arms.

"You can't be sure until you kiss me," he bragged, bringing his lips to hers.

"Wait," Wendy whispered, pushing her hands against his chest to hold him back.

"What?" he groaned. "Wendy, it's 1964! You need to get with the times. Being a good girl died a generation ago."

She ignored his vocal jab and pointed out into the darkness. "What's on the other side of the log?"

"You're a bigger iceberg than the one that hit the Titanic," he complained. "No more stalling, kiss me."

"No," she said, jerking free of his clutch, "there's something over there."

Even in her pumps, she quickly covered the twenty feet to the log and peered into the dark shadows. There was something there. She'd seen it a few seconds before.

"Over here!" she almost screamed as she pushed her wind-blown ponytail back over her shoulder.

Frank slowly trudged through the grass to her side. "Boy, I've heard of excuses before, but this one tops it. I bring you to the most romantic spot in the area, a place where generations have come to make out, and you freeze up like ice cream. This is going to be our last date. If all the girls in town move away and you're the only one left, I will never take you out again."

He folded his arms and glared into Wendy's eyes before following her gaze into the darkness. He surveyed the scene for a few disgusted seconds, then noted, "I don't see anything, Wendy." Shaking his head, he added, "I know when to give up. I'm waving the white flag now. The money I spent on flowers, the dance, and gas has been wasted. So, Miss Adams, let's go on home."

"Wait," she pleaded, reaching out and putting her arm through his to hold him in place. "Just keep looking out there until the wind blows, the tree branches move, and the moonlight reveals what I spotted. I tell you, something is right over there. Just about twenty feet from the big oak tree."

Neither of them had to wait long. A few seconds later, the wind was strong enough to not just move the branches but to almost push the two teens sideways.

"Storm coming," Frank noted with urgency. "We really ought to get home. Dad will be steamed if I get mud on his car."

"There it is!" Wendy exclaimed.

Dropping her arm from his, she rushed to and climbed over a log, then raced through the grass into the darkness and shadows. She finally stopped when she was sure she was near what she had seen. Suddenly, clouds covered the moon, the night was plunged into pitch blackness, and a large raindrop struck her cheek. She could now smell the rain and even hear it peppering the leaves above her. As the moments passed, she stared out into the darkness as the falling water soaked through to her skin. Curiosity, not common sense, held her in place.

"Come on, Wendy," Frank called out. "We've got to get back to the car and get out of here."

"Just a second," she yelled back.

"Wendy!" He moaned.

With the strong, wet breeze blowing her hair and pleated skirt, the most beautiful girl in Justice stubbornly fixed her gaze on the dark ground. Her concentration was rewarded when a bolt of lightning lit up the night. Frozen in place, her eyes locked onto a sight too ghastly to fully comprehend. As the image flooded into the deepest recesses of her mind, she tried to catch her breath, but it refused to come. Fear paralyzed her throat and threatened to possess her body, too. Even though the night was still warm, she was chilled to the bone. Suddenly there was no wind, rain, or storm. Reality had somehow turned a dream date into a nightmare, and whatever romance or temptation had lured her heart—to places she had once feared to tread—had now evaporated. Terrified, Wendy raised her hands to her mouth and tried to scream, but nothing came out. Lightning struck a tree less than a hundred yards away. The noise was deafening, the ground shook like an earthquake, and the smell of burnt wood filled her senses, but she still couldn't move.

Every fiber in her lithe form screamed at Wendy to turn away. If you don't see it, it doesn't exist! Don't look and it will fade away; dissipate like a nightmare! Yet she couldn't follow the demands of her heart or mind. Again, she had to view the ghastly scene just a few feet in front of her. And a five-second jolt of electricity snaking from one horizon to the other gave her the chance.

Becky Booth's body was bloody and pale, grotesquely twisted, her lips blue, her eyes open but seeing nothing. Around her, where she was lying but not really resting, were a saddle oxford shoe, her favorite red scarf, and a purse. The grass flattened into a path, and a trail of blood could be seen on the ground, ending at the place where Becky's twisted form had been dumped. This was it, there was nothing more to see, but so much to forget.

Not waiting for another burst of lighting to reveal what she now wished she'd never viewed, Wendy glanced back toward the still-confused Frank. It was obvious from his frustrated expression he hadn't seen anything. If he only knew how lucky he was. Willing strength into her weakened limbs, she raced with purpose over the distance separating her from the boy. Hurdling the log as if she was an Olympic sprinter, she hurried to his side and pushed herself deeply into his chest as if he would or could keep her safe from the monster who brutalized her best friend. As his arms wrapped around her, she sobbed.

"What is it?" he asked, a sense of urgency now even apparent in his tone.

What she had seen was too horrible to think, much less speak, but she had no choice. She had to share the horror with someone, even if saying it made it real. "It's Becky," she sobbed. She could force no more from her lips as the unrelenting rain pelted down from the now angry skies.

Not wanting to, but somehow unable to stop, Wendy pulled from Frank's grasp and turned back toward the spot. When lightning once more lit the dark sky, when for a few seconds night became day, she once more saw her friend's dead body, bloody and broken, lying in the grass.

Though she hadn't even kissed Frank Baird at Lovers Park, Wendy had nevertheless lost an innocence never again to be found.

CHAPTER 2

2


Monday, June 22, 1964

A troubled Cooper Lindsay walked from his desk to the window of his second-floor law office. Death was a numbing occurrence, but when it happened brutally to a young person whose whole life lay ahead of her, it moved from numbing to gut-wrenching. And yet, in spite of this tragedy the world kept turning, and in so many ways, it was just another sunny Monday morning around the Justice, Mississippi, town square.

Tom Miller was sweeping the sidewalk in front of his Western Auto Store, Virginia Rankin was rearranging the display in her flower shop, and just like they had on almost every weekday for twenty years, Mayor Johnson Goodly was visiting with Walter Green in front of the city offices. Just beyond them, a half-dozen folks were tromping up the marble steps and filing into the red-brick courthouse, and about the same number were making their way into the Sunshine Café on the square's far corner. Not far from a Civil War memorial statue, Jacob McBride and Aaron Carver were sitting at a table studying a checkerboard. Coop, as his friends and family called him, wondered how many games those two old men, the grandsons of slaves, had played and who was actually ahead. Yep, it was another day just like any other and would likely be repeated tomorrow, the day after, and the day after until time itself stopped. Except in this case, tragedy tempered the normal routine. The cloud of despair created by Becky Booth's murder would likely hover over Justice for days, if not weeks, and Coop was sure it would haunt him, the father of three, for years.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Color of Justice by Ace Collins. Copyright © 2014 Ace Collins. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Ace Collins defines himself as a storyteller. He has authored more than sixty books that have sold more than 2.5 million copies. His catalog includes novels, biographies, children’s works as well as books on history, culture and faith. He has also been the featured speaker at the National Archives Distinguished Lecture Series, hosted a network television special and does college basketball play-by-play. Ace lives in Arkansas. Learn more about him by visiting AceCollins.com.

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The Color of Justice 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
quaintinns More than 1 year ago
A special thank you to Abingdon Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. THE COLOR OF JUSTICE by Ace Collins is a riveting, page-turner, and complex story of racial injustice and a small southern town full of dark secrets. Set in 1964, in Justice, Mississippi, where black and whites live separately, and the lines are seldom crossed. Coop is an attorney with his own small firm, taking over from his dad’s practice, where he now resides with his wife Judy, and children. Three months of living with his wife Judy and children, in the sleepy community where five generations of his family had called home had proven two things to the lanky, dark-haired man. The first was something he liked: Justice was the same quaint town he remember from his youth and also the thing he hated with their narrow minds and thinking. Since he opened his office not one black person had knocked on his door, until Hattie Ross walks in. She was a former maid for Coop’s dad and family and asks him to defend her grandson, Calvin, accused of murdering Becky (a white girl from a powerful family). When Coop takes the case, his entire world changes and his wife, and family are threatened and all their lives are at risk. Someone has set up Calvin, and Coop takes it upon himself to find the answers, and the real killer, no matter what. When he finally wins the case; however, they both go missing, after the trial, never to be found again. I was immediately hooked from page one, as Ace Collins grabs the reader and never let’s go until the ending. The lovable characters were so warm and realistic and I would have been satisfied with the book ending when the trial ended in 1964, as I was so rooting for Coop and Calvin. (I loved this part, as was so engrossed, had forgotten there was a second part, and wanted to cry, as loved these two characters). After the trial, the book advances to 2014, where Coop’s grandson returns to the small town, also an attorney, and this time the roles are reversed. Almost 50 years later, he opens his own practice, at the same office. His first case is just as controversial as the one that ended his grandfather’s life. With twists and turns you will not see coming for an engrossing and satisfying suspense thriller, THE COLOR OF JUSTICE is a story you will not soon forget, and characters which will live on making you smile long after the book ends. Am so delighted with this book and author, cannot wait to dive into his previous books. Don’t you love discovering a new-found author? We can only hope for a sequel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'll make this short & sweet! This is one of best books I have read all year. Loved the story and people involved! This a must read for all who like mystery/suspense!!!!! FANTASTIC!!!!!
Anonymous 6 days ago
Great Book! The first part had me staying up late to read it. The second part seemed so much more rushed in the story line and relationships. Still a great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago