Reverberations from a crime committed in their youth follow three grown men with the tenacity and inevitability of Greek tragedy in Haywood's beautifully crafted novel of unintended consequences. The gunning down in Los Angeles 26 years later of one of the three, R.J. Burrow, prompts Errol “Handy” White to return to L.A. from St. Paul, Minn., to say good-bye and to discover if R.J.'s death was related to their crime. Handy reconnects with O'Neal Holden, the third member of the trio, who's now mayor of nearby Bellwood. Haywood (All the Lucky Ones Are Dead) reaches new heights as he peels back the layers of a well-planned robbery to reveal its devastating ripple effects. These ripples spread like a hidden cancer that only reveals itself as Handy cautiously probes R.J.'s murder and the life that preceded it. Each of the three men feels the burden of guilt; each tries in some way to atone; but some wrongs can't be righted. (Feb.)
This gripping stand-alone thriller marks the long-awaited return of Gar Anthony Haywood, author of the critically acclaimed Aaron Gunner series (All the Lucky Ones Are Dead,2000). Errol "Handy" White is working as a handyman in the Twin Cities when he gets word that his old friend, R. J. Burrows, has been murdered in Los Angeles. Handy knows he must return to L.A. to attend the funeral, but he also knows that when he sets foot in L.A., where he, R. J., and another friend, O'Neal Holden, now a rising politician, came up together, a terrible secret is in danger of coming to light. As young men, the three friends dabbled in crime in South Central L.A. until a revenge heist at a drug dealer's home went tragically awry. Handy has been running ever since, from the crime and from himself, but now realizes that if he is to help R. J.'s daughter find her father's killer, his running days are over. Haywood melds an intricately plotted but highly suspenseful thriller to a moving story of belated coming-of-age, as the introspective, deeply troubled Handy forces himself to confront what has gone wrong with his life. As in the Gunner series, Haywood exhibits a remarkable eye for detail, both in describing the landscape of poverty ("the bathroom had a toilet that only flushed when it was willing") and in exposing the nuances of character. It's been too long between books for a writer who has always belonged in the upper echelon of American crime fiction. Starred Review
When old friend R.J. is murdered, Handy White returns to L.A. to find out who killed him and why. Perhaps this will absolve Handy of the guilt he has carried around for 26 years. VERDICT The author of the popular Aaron Gunner series has created a believable sleuth who tells his story in a clear voice and never makes excuses. Sure to appeal to fans of Robert Crais and Michael Connelly. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ 10/1/09.]
Twenty-six years after their search for revenge led to a criminal catastrophe that drove them apart, a corpse reunites a trio. Handy, O' and R.J. ran a few scams back in the day, minor stuff really, until Excel Rucker, a drug dealer, spread out a line of blow that killed Olivia Gardner, the girl Handy's brother Chancellor loved, and the guys decided to teach Excel a lesson. It all went horribly wrong, of course, winding up with homicide, arson and the wrongful imprisonment of Excel's cousin Paris McDonald. Now, so many years later, Paris has found religion and forgiven everybody, including the guilt-ridden R.J., who ventured into Pelican Bay Penitentiary to confess all to him just three days before he himself was found in an L.A. car trunk riddled with four bullets. Flying in from St. Paul for his former pal's funeral, Handy wonders who might have killed him and why. He halfway suspects O', now mayor of Bellwood, of engineering the murder. Nothing's that simple, however, and the more Handy looks, the more ugly secrets, lies and coverups are revealed, until nothing is left to do but head back to St. Paul and lay bare the other major untruth in his background, this one concerning his daughter Coral. Haywood, best known for his Aaron Gunner series (All the Lucky Ones are Dead, 2000, etc.), offers up rue, redemption and cataclysmic surprises with noir underpinnings.