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Richard W. Wise. Adelaide, $23.25 (338p) ISBN 978-1-9512-1468-5
Wise (The French Blue) highlights a predatory housing practice—redlining—in this taut thriller set in 1974 Boston. Sandy Morgan, a neighborhood organizer working for the Jamaica Plain Social Action Committee, was helping to investigate a series of suspicious fires in abandoned properties in the area, until she was killed in an explosion caused by an arsonist in yet another vacant building. Morgan’s death leads her boss, Jedediah Flynt, who’s wracked with guilt, to redouble his efforts to find the people behind the arsons. Flynt is convinced that powerful people, who consider the neighborhood “too risky to do business with,” have redlined it, choking off mortgages and insurance money. That policy “sets the stage for slumlords buying cheap for cash, racial steering and housing abandonment.” Influential forces in the city oppose Flynt’s idealistic crusade, and Morgan’s successor, attractive Harvard student Alex Jordan, also winds up in jeopardy. Wise combines an accessible explanation of the nature and impact of redlining with a page-turning narrative. Fans of suspense fiction with a social conscience will be pleased. (Self-published)

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on 07/10/2020

Release date 10/01/2019