cover image Holy City

Holy City

Henry Wise. Atlantic Monthly, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-8021-6291-5

A heinous crime tests a freshly minted deputy sheriff’s allegiances in Wise’s stylish debut. When Will Seems’s mother died 13 years ago, he fled rural Euphoria County, Va., for the “holy city” of Richmond. Now, he’s returned to take a job with Euphoria County’s police department, and he finds that his old neighborhood remains mired in poverty and crime. Soon after Will dons his badge, his childhood friend, Tom Janders, is murdered in an arson. Zeke Hathom, father of another of Will’s boyhood friends, is spotted running from the burning building, and authorities swiftly place him in custody. Substantial evidence implicates Zeke in Tom’s death, and Will’s boss wants to send Zeke to prison. Will, however, owes a deep adolescent debt to Zeke’s son and sets out to prove the older man’s innocence. When Zeke’s friends and family hire PI Bennico Watts to help exonerate him, she and Will enter into an uneasy alliance and plunge together into Euphoria County’s underworld. Wise propels the plot forward with flashbacks to the violence of Will’s past and the shame that motivates his return. Bold characters and splendid prose further enhance the proceedings. Wise knocks it out of the park his first time up to bat. Agent: John Talbot, Talbot Fortune Agency. (June)