One Must Wait

Penny Mickelbury, Author
Penny Mickelbury, Author Simon & Schuster $22 (256p) ISBN 978-0-684-83741-3
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
It takes Mickelbury (Night Songs) a while to set up this story about a grieving widow's determination to find her husband's murderer. Once she does, however, an initially discursive tale turns into an exceptionally intricate and mysterious thriller. Carole Ann Gibson is a brilliant, hard-edged black defense lawyer who habitually defends white-collar criminals for a top Washington, D.C., firm; her husband, Alain, is a corporate attorney expert at helping his high-powered firm's greedy clients subvert environmental laws. Just as they decide to change their lives and cleanse their consciences, Alain is killed in a mugging. When police detective Jake Graham discovers that Alain was murdered under different circumstances, a key witness vanishes and Jake himself is paralyzed by a bullet. Suspicious of Alain's boss, Larry Devereaux, and their shady client, Parish Petroleum of Louisiana, Carole Ann decides to investigate. Once she arrives in New Orleans, the novel seethes with hidden ghost towns, murky rivers and vivid, original characters: civil rights activists Warren Forchette, Lillian Gailliard, Eldon Warmsely; secretive Sadie Cord; the violent Devereaux clan. Carole Ann finds some answers in the typically Louisianan racial relationship that binds the Devereaux and Warmsley families. Mickelbury's depiction of ecological destruction and the relationship between environmental politics and racism informs her novel with a depth and anger that parallels Carol Ann's search for Alain's murderer. (Jan.)
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