The fifth in the series, Grace: A Willie Black Mystery, opens early in December 2014 a few months after the preceding novel, The Bottom. Kids have been vanishing for years from Richmond’s East End. Nobody has been doing much about it because of racism, the fact that kids come from poor families, or for some other reason. The bottom line is that young black kids have been disappearing for years now and Artesian Cole is the latest young boy to vanish.

But, this time is different as they have the child’s body. Despite being bagged and weighed down with rocks, Artesian Cole surfaced in the waters of a lake over in Bryon Park. In the fifth grade, he also attended an afternoon tutoring program at the “Children of God.” Local legend Sam McNish has been running the program for many years despite some opposition in the neighborhood who would rather see the property put to a better use as they see it.


The death of Artesian Cole soon causes the arrest of Sam McNish by the local cops. Not only is he subsequently blamed for the murder of Artesian Cole, he is publicly blamed for the disappearances of other children as well. A fact that does not sit at all well with Willie Black.


Reporter Willie Black is well aware that the evidence against McNish is barely better than fence line gossip. Having worked the police beat for many years he is also aware that often the local cops have it all wrong. Both these two factors push him to start investigating and digging into the case. As usual, his digging causes issues with local law enforcement as well as his bosses at the paper who would prefer him to accept the official line.


Grace: A Willie Black Mystery by Howard Owen builds on the previous books in the series. Along with the occasional references to previous books in the series, characters in this read continue to evolve and change. While one could read this one as the starting point, one could also go jump off the roof if one wanted to do so. It would be far better to avoid roof jumping as well as to start this very good series from the beginning, Oregon Hill.


Grace: A Willie Black Mystery

Howard Owen

The Permanent Press

October 2016

ISBN# 978-1-57962-434-7

Hardback (also available in audio and digital formats)

245 Pages


My reading copy came from the Central Downtown Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.


Kevin R. Tipple ©2019








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