cover image The Bottom: A Willie Black Mystery

The Bottom: A Willie Black Mystery

Howard Owen. Permanent, $28 (208p) ISBN 978-1-57962-392-0

Willie Black has the tenacity of a bulldog when chasing a story or a bad guy, as shown in Owen’s satisfying fourth mystery featuring the Richmond, Va., newspaper reporter (after 2014’s Parker Field). A serial killer dubbed Tweety Bird has just claimed his fourth victim, a 14-year-old girl, probably a runaway, found in Richmond’s rundown Main Street train station. On her ankle is the killer’s signature tattoo of a cartoon bird. After the police arrest sleazy photographer Ronnie Sax for the crime, Willie starts receiving threatening handwritten letters with information only the killer could know. Meanwhile, a former state senator is pushing an ambitious development plan for the Richmond neighborhood known as the Bottom, much to its residents’ dismay. Willie carries a lot of personal baggage, including a fractured (but not broken) family, three divorces, a couple of rocky romances, and a drinking problem sort of under control, but readers can count on him to deliver in the end. (Aug.)