Buckhanon’s weaving of thriller elements into a literary novel works beautifully, especially early on, as the focus on how the investigation into Raven’s death impacts Tragedy, as one of the few Black residents, positions the story arc about Tragedy’s drinking as secondary, until it slowly takes center stage. Tragedy is a complex, relatable, and empathetic character, and though some of the cast can come across as stylized, this increases the impression of Tragedy’s self-centeredness—we know them through her perspective. The dramatic contrast between Victor’s daughter Joy, who is willing to use stereotypes of Black urban men to get what she wants, and the history that Tragedy imagines she shares with Raven, makes for resonant commentary on the interaction of class and race.
The pacing is literary-thoughtful, often giving the impression that information is being intentionally held back. Descriptions of the high-end rehab program “Clean Me” and descriptions of high-end Grayson are amusingly over the top, leavening the often dark material. Readers interested in the challenges Black women face in suburban America and in drinking narratives that are not overly redemptive will appreciate this polished, insightful novel.
Takeaway: A resonant novel about Blackness in a ritzy suburb—and a mystery.
Great for fans of: Lolá Ákínmádé Åkerström’s In Every Mirror She’s Black, Jean Rhys’s Good Morning, Midnight.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A