Friday, October 15, 2021

Book Review: "When Ghosts Come Home" by Wiley Cash

Wiley Cash's new book, When Ghosts Come Home, is a brooding and evocative crime novel.

It’s late October 1984. The sound of a low-flying plane overhead awakens Sheriff Winston Barnes and his wife at around 4 am. Although he can see no fire or wreckage, he knows that something is not right, so he goes to the nearby airfield to investigate.

He’s correct: something isn’t right. He finds a large plane has crash-landed on the runway, but there is no sign of a pilot or any cargo. He does find the body of a local man who has been shot dead, and he later finds that the plane has been wiped clean of prints.

The investigation into this murder rocks the town, as the man was Black and racial tensions were already out of control. To make matters worse, Winston is up for re-election in less than a week and he faces a formidable and corrupt challenger. There’s no doubt that his every action on this case will determine his future—as if it hasn’t been determined already.

As his own past comes to light, he also has to deal with his wife’s terminal illness and the return of his adult daughter, who is struggling to deal with a difficult loss. It’s all weighing on him in ways he never expected.

This was a well-told story, one where you know things are going to happen but you don’t know what. The anticipation in this story was powerful and well-teased-out, and there definitely were surprises. It’s a slow pace at times but not noticeably so.

Thanks to William Morrow Books for the complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review!

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