Between the Lies

Written by Cynthia Graham
Review by Bryan Dumas

Hick Blackburn is back in this tense, well-written mystery, set in 1954, that finds him trying to prove the innocence of young black boy being held by a corrupt county sheriff for a murder he could never have committed. Sheriff Earl Brewster of Broken Creek has a history with Hick, sheriff of Cherokee Crossing, and none of it is any good. So, when Hick is called to help out in Broken Creek, he reluctantly agrees. But, the more he learns about the corruption, racism, and blackmail going on in the town, he can’t help but get drawn in and right a wrong. Helping Hick is Brewster’s deputy, Royal Adkins, who helps unravel long-held secrets in Broken Creek. Carol Quinn is a young, up-and-coming civil rights lawyer from New York City who believes that Hick is helping Blackburn cover up a crime and railroad a young black boy into years in jail and finds everyone in the South to be stupid hillbillies. However, while working with Hick, Carol slowly comes around to see him for the man he really is, and together, they are able to bring about justice.

Graham (Behind Every Door) keeps up a blistering pace and the twists turning. Her characters are well-developed; Brewster is more than a mere caricature of a backwoods, corrupt sheriff and Hick is deeply drawn. Carol’s change of heart and views are believable, and Royal is a fun, good-hearted young man. My one issue came with the ending, which I won’t reveal, but it felt abrupt, and Hick’s reaction to it didn’t have the emotional charge I wanted. In all, a fine homage to Southern Gothic themes and a mystery that will keep you guessing until the end.