A Strange and Bitter Crop

E. L. Wyrick, Author
E. L. Wyrick, Author St. Martin's Press $20.95 (260p) ISBN 978-0-312-11075-8
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When a poor, barely literate black teenager named James Cleveland is accused of murdering a white sociology professor and his wife, Tammi Randall, a lawyer with the Teal County, Ga., Legal Aid society, is called to act as his defense. The youth implicates Buddy Crowe, a man who had been involved in a smuggling scheme Tammi had helped uncover years before, suggesting to her that the murders might be more than a robbery gone awry. Surviving an attack by Crowe, Tammi learns that the professor's death is connected to a racial crime committed two decades earlier, one that involves local police and Tammi's new love interest, a wealthy businessman. First-novelist Wyrick picks on some easy targets, particularly Klan members and a gossipy churchgoer, but other characters, like an enormous ex-wrestler named Big Jack, stand out. Although the plot is slow to develop and lacks surprises, Wyrick captures his setting and proves he can write an action scene. (July)
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