William Cobb, Author . Crane Hill $26.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-57587-177-6

Set in the small town of Hammond, Ala., in 1965, this Southern drama—the sequel to Cobb's well-received A Walk Through Fire— portrays the intertwining lineages of two families as they struggle against the sins of the past and present. The Legrands are the town's most powerful family: old Dupree Legrand owns Rose Hill Plantation and his son Oscar is lieutenant governor of the state; Oscar's son Dooly is a priest with strange healing powers. Living alongside the Legrands for generations have been the Taylors—Rachel, who is possessed of mysterious powers, and her brother Carter are the grandchildren of Carrie Winfield, originally a slave to Dupree, now a ghost sometimes glimpsed around the plantation. At the bedside of their dying mother, Rachel and Carter learn a wrenching secret: Dupree carried on a clandestine affair with Carrie, who bore him a daughter—their mother. Furthermore, they discover that Oscar is the biological father of both Carter and Rachel. Meanwhile, racial tensions in the town mount when a march to the state capital in Montgomery (Oscar's current home) is planned to demand black suffrage. Cobb's most obvious gift is his ability to authentically imagine the different perspectives of the members of his ensemble cast—the racists, the voting rights workers and everyone in between— as they fight to realize their goals in the face of brutality and sin. Unfortunately, the story occasionally meanders and digresses, losing some of its power, and the climactic final scenes in Montgomery feel abrupt and formulaic, peripheral to the individual battles already played out. Still, with its rich blend of civil rights activism, down-home naturalism and backwoods mysticism, Cobb's passionate portrayal of a town on the brink of sweeping change does not disappoint. 12-city author tour. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/08/2001
Release date: 01/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
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