Welcome to Oregon Hill, a hardscrabble neighborhood in Richmond, Virginia, where people may move away but they never really leave. Willie Black, a 49-year-old crime reporter with the only major newspaper in town, is such a one.
Willie is an old-time journalist, maybe a relic, who watches the decline of the traditional press with many a rueful sigh and stubbed-out cigarette. He’s seen a lot in his years, but the gruesome murder of a pretty, young girl found by the South Anna River does manage to unnerve him and kindles within a fire to find out the truth—a truth that doubles back and leads home to Oregon Hill.
Still handsome enough to attract the ladies and the sympathy of two of his three ex-wives, Willie Black’s intriguing personal life fills out the pages, adding to the complexity of what could have been a cut-and-dried crime story. Also, Richmond, Virginia, is on display here, its neighborhoods and social classes pushing against the lines drawn between them. But when crime enters the picture, both the tattered, working-class streets and the exclusive enclaves of the wealthy become a killer’s hunting grounds.
Howard Owen has written an outstanding modern noir complete with grim humor, memorable characters, and a tireless devotion to justice, that most elusive of fugitives.
About the author:
Struck by either an epiphany or a midlife crisis, Howard Owen wrote his first novel, Littlejohn, at the age of 40. The first draft took him about 100 days. At the time, Owen was sports editor of a daily newspaper. He is now editorial page editor of The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Virginia. He has never taken a sabbatical, adhering instead to a schedule that includes about an hour a day for writing or revising. He finds that it is possible to do great things with an hour a day, every day. Owen's tenth novel, Oregon Hill, published in 2012, won the Hammett Prize for best crime literature in the U.S. and Canada, given by the International Association of Crime Writers. The sequel, The Philadelphia Quarry, came out in July of 2013. The third Willie Black mystery, "Parker Field," will be published in June of 2014. Read more at HowardOwenBooks.com.