Set in the 1970s, De'Shawn Charles Winslow's Decent People is in part a murder mystery, as well as an exposé of the racism and homophobia that divide and connect the residents of the small North Carolina town of West Mills. Winslow is a perceptive and empathetic writer who doesn't shy away from examining nuanced relationships, and Decent People is a thrilling and complex novel. Recommended By Adam P., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
From Center for Fiction First Novel Prize winning author De'Shawn Charles Winslow, a sweeping and unforgettable novel of a Black community reeling from a triple homicide, and the secrets the killings reveal.
In the still-segregated town of West Mills, North Carolina in 1976, Marian, Marva, and Lazarus Harmon-three enigmatic siblings-are found shot to death in their home. The people of West Mills-on both sides of the canal that serves as the town's color line-are in a frenzy of finger-pointing, gossip, and wonder. The crime is the first reported murder in the area in decades, but the white authorities don't seem to care and the sheriff quickly closes the case.
Fortunately, one person is determined to do more than talk. Ms. Jo Wright has just moved back to West Mills from New York City to retire and marry a childhood sweetheart, Olympus "Lymp" Seymore. When she discovers that the murder victims are Lymp's half-siblings, and that Lymp is one of West Mills' leading culprits, she sets out on a transformative manhunt to prove his innocence.
As Jo begins to investigate those who might know the most about the Harmons' deaths, she starts to discover darker secrets than she'd ever imagined, and a pattern of cover ups-of racial incidents, homophobia, and medical misuse-that could upend the reputations of many.
For readers of Bluebird, Bluebird and American Spy, Decent People is a powerful new novel about shame, race, money, and the reckoning required to heal a fractured community.