As The Bottom: A Willie Black Mystery by Howard Owen begins, it is the middle of September 2013 and more than a year since Les Hacker was murdered. Peggy, Willie Black’s mom, is still devastated and deep in grief and so she is barely functioning. At least Peggy knows what happened and that the killer was caught and is receiving some sort of justice in a prison hospital.

For the family and friends of others justice in the form of catching the killer of their loved ones can be a very elusive thing. Such is the case for the families and friends of four young female victims and counting as a serial killer or killers are working the streets of Richmond. Every six months another young and homeless teen is brutalized, killed, and dumped to be found by the authorities. Each body founds has the same strange tattoo which has caused some in the media to refer to the “Tweety Bird Killer.”


The fact that there is a small thin connection to the latest victim and his own daughter, Andi, makes Willie Black more than a little concerned. The connection is innocent and Andi did nothing wrong, but it does mean the police are going to be interested in her and therefore in Willie. They are not the only ones interested in the actions of Willlie.


A former state senator, Wat Chenault, is leading a development project that promises jobs, an increased tax base, and all the other usual amenities that make those in power grant tax incentives and other goodies. The fact that much of what is promised can just as easily go away the way the contract is written for the developer is a troubling issue, but one that is being ignored by the proponents. The fact that the development project will make traffic on the surrounding freeway system way worse as well as the fact that the project would be constructed on the graves of slaves is being ignored in the rush for the all mighty dollar.


Then there is the history of the lead proponent. Walt Chenault has a bad history and some of that has come back to light thanks to Willie Black’s reporting on the new development. Litigation is being threatened against the paper as well as Willie Black. He knows the stories were accurate. He also knows that with corporate vultures circling the carcass of his slow decaying paper yet again, those in charge are the paper are not going to do much to support and defend him or his work.


This latest installment, The Bottom is another very good read in the Willie Black Mystery Series. Rich in scene setting details, numerous twists and turns, and the occasional sarcastic commentary power along the latest mystery. As the series progresses overall, characters are not stagnant and continue to evolve as does Willie Black’s attempts to be relatively sober and have a relationship. The read works on all levels. The Bottom: A Willie Black Mystery by Howard Owen, like the previous reads in this excellent series, is

highly recommended.



The Bottom: A Willie Black Mystery

Howard Owen

The Permanent Press

August 2015

ISBN# 978-1-57962-392-0

Hardback (also available in audio, digital, and paper formats)

210 Pages


My reading copy came from the North Oak Cliff Branch of the Dallas Public Library System.


Kevin R. Tipple ©2019

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