Oregon Hill

Howard Owen. Permanent, $28 (240p) ISBN 978-1-57962-208-4
Police beat reporter Willie Mays Black, introduced in “The Thirteenth Floor” in the Akashic anthology Richmond Noir (2010), shows his mettle in this warm and witty crime novel from Owen (The Reckoning). Willie, the son of a drug-addled white mother and a light-skinned black saxophone player, tussles with ex-wives, bottom-line editors, and the suspicion that Martin Fell, the man arrested for killing and decapitating Virginia Commonwealth University co-ed Isabel Ducharme, may be innocent. Willie’s continued digging into Isabel’s murder, despite a questionable confession from Fell, incites the enmity of cop David Shiflett and raises the anxiety level of his editors. Off-beat characters such as peripatetic drifter Awesome Dude and Owen’s spot-on take on the slow death of a newspaper (shrinking pages, repeated staff cuts, on-line presence, blogging, etc.) add ballast. The deft and surprising plot builds to a satisfying ending. Readers will hope that Willie will soon return in a sequel. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/14/2012
Release date: 00/00/0000
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