cover image The Philadelphia Quarry

The Philadelphia Quarry

Howard Owen. Permanent, $28 (224p) ISBN 978-1-57962-335-7

Richmond, Va., reporter Willie Black proves himself a dogged, flawed, and tarnished knight of the Fourth Estate in Owen’s strong if less accomplished sequel to 2012’s Oregon Hill, a Hammett Prize finalist. DNA evidence establishes the innocence of Richard Slade, who has served 27 years for the rape of Alicia Parker Simpson, who was just 16 at the time of the crime. Simpson, a member of a wealthy white family, identified Slade, a poor 17-year-old black, as her attacker. As Willie puts it, “When it came time to step up for Richard Slade, everybody stepped back.” Slade has a brief taste of freedom before he’s arrested for the shooting death of Simpson. Willie, hard-drinking, thrice divorced, and debt-ridden, has an unquenchable thirst for truth that drives him to prevent a second miscarriage of justice. Along the way, he uncovers a Greek tragedy’s worth of murky relationships. Owen has a knack for creating quirky but credible characters, from homeless “Awesome Dude” to Simpson’s aristocratic older sister, Lewis Witt. (July)