cover image Grace: A Willie Black Mystery

Grace: A Willie Black Mystery

Howard Owen. Permanent, $28 (246p) ISBN 978-1-57962-434-7

The disappearance of 10-year-old Artesian Cole from a poor Richmond, Va., neighborhood propels Owen’s middling fifth Willie Black mystery (after 2015’s The Bottom). Willie, the police reporter for a floundering Richmond daily, gets involved when Artesian’s gun-toting uncle, Shorty Cole, threatens to shoot publisher Rita Dominick over the newspaper’s lack of concern for his missing nephew. Thanks to an anonymous tip received by police chief Larry Jones, the prime suspect is preacher Sam McNish, whose church runs the tutoring program Artesian attended. When Willie talks to Laquinta Cole, Artesian’s mother, he hears about other boys who have gone missing and a boogie man called Frosty. Laquinta’s boyfriend, tough guy Big Boy Sunday, puts pressure on Willie to discover the truth, as does Dominick when he turns his attention to a former city councilman’s murder. Willie walks a tightrope keeping Sunday, Jones, and Dominick at bay while trying to find justice for the missing boys in a story that offers familiar characters and situations but breaks no new ground. (Oct.)