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Word Count: 292
A subtle 100 realistic look inside a middle-class African-American community The citizens of Lincoln Prairie a suburb of Chicago are bound together by church work and knowing everything about each other -- or so they think But when deacon Henry Hamilton is smothered in his own bed the entire community is forced to examine their memories and assumptions about the victim his family a wife who loathes him and three troubled adult daughters and his place in the social fabric of the town Detective Marti MacAlister fits right into the social network where this case is located and she becomes the facilitator in what amounts to a session of large-group therapy She knows exactly what elderly person is likely to remember old gossip that might be pertinent exactly how much deference to apply when questioning the minister exactly what kind of body language will make it clear that she is sympathetic yet still a police professional Shes the best argument Ive ever seen for community policing by a diverse police force but the author never has to preach or pontificate to get her message across Instead she develops believable characters and lets their thoughts and actions develop in a naturalistic manner The plot isnt very mysterious and I wasnt completely convinced by the psychological problems of one central character Blands prose style is unassuming and straightforward with one particularly strong point she makes superb use of details gestures and anecdotes to illuminate the lives of her characters Younger readers might find this books mise en scne somewhat old-fashioned phrases like loose morals are used for instance but mature readers will appreciate a depiction of Black America that features church community and self-improvement rather than slums automatic weapons and indiscriminate drug abuse
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