cover image White River Burning: A Dave Gurney Novel

White River Burning: A Dave Gurney Novel

John Verdon. Counterpoint, $27 (432p) ISBN 978-1-64009-063-7

In Verdon’s outstanding sixth outing for ex-NYPD homicide detective Dave Gurney (after 2016’s Wolf Lake), White River, N.Y., cop John Steele, who is white, is killed by a sniper on the first anniversary of the controversial shooting of Laxton Jones, a black motorist. Jones was shot by a white police officer, who later claimed self-defense and was cleared of wrongdoing by the authorities. Jones’s death prompted the creation of the Black Defense Alliance, which alleged that he was probing rampant corruption in the White River PD and was deliberately gunned down. Steele was shot while attempting to maintain order at a demonstration organized by the BDA, and the chief of police believes the shooting was payback for Jones’s. Brought in by the district attorney to consult on the case, Gurney has his doubts after Steele’s widow shares that shortly before her husband’s murder, he received a text message warning that he would be shot and the BDA would be blamed. The twisty plot builds up to a logical and satisfying reveal. Verdon expertly combines a baffling whodunit with thoughtfully drawn characters in this timely examination of racial tensions. Agent: Lucy Carson, Friedrich Agency. (July)