Thursday, June 30, 2016


Armed with a tempting and provocatively high concept plot, this new novel shot it's way to the top of my reading list for the year. This is a mystery novel that begs to be read, about an alternate present-day where the Civil War never happened, and slavery still exists in four Southern states, and about a freed black agent for the Federal Marshalls that infiltrates abolitionist cells to track down runaway slaves. I felt obligated to read it, to at least see where the concept goes from there. But it seems that this is what the author is banking on as well, because that great concept is really all there is. Beyond the cool premise is a book that moves like a stumbling drunk, awkward and tripping over itself.

The writing is clunky and the main character wooden,trying hard to be compelling but never really getting there. Winters also tries to put his cool idea to use, by dropping a few world-building alternate history nuggets throughout the story (like James Brown being a runaway slave that finds shelter in Europe and becomes a superstar there), but they ultimately feel inelegant and unearned due to the fact that the heart of the story never really engages. In fact, the whole novel feels like an early rough draft, with ideas and story points that never truly click. I give this a low score because if you take away the fancy premise, what are we really left with in this book?

I received an advanced copy of this book from Mulholland Books in exchange for an honest review.


1 comment:

  1. It was extremely hard to find a review of this book from a black pov, but I was determined and found yours and one other. Both restored my faith in common sense, because every white review was a rave for this totally flawed premise from the get. Someone who could write such a story must believe that we were easily enslaved and played no part in getting our freedom. Thank you for your review and having the stomach to read it.


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