The prologue reveals author Persia Walker as a great talent, through the craftsmanship of her nouns and verbs, spiced with qualifiers. The wind is Lilian’s enemy. We are convinced that we have gone to the brink of death with her. This is powerful writing that makes you say, “Wow.” Walker has a painterly command of the language. Then comes Chapter 1, which reverts to the expository style. It’s a good narrative, but it is not lyrical.
David McKay returns to Harlem to investigate his sister’s death. He suspects the new man in her life, Jameson Sweet. David is a flawed human being with a guilty secret. Themes of alienation, madness and suicide, rivalry and conflict keep the brew bubbling. Author Walker keeps the shell game going by revealing selective facts. She never gives you all the clues to solve the mystery, but rather makes you wonder.
Texture is in the details, which recreate the Harlem of the ’20s among the elite on Strivers’ Row. Complex characterization deepens the involvement. We learn a new concept: Negrotarian, a white person who majors in black culture. We learn what it is like to fight in the war for your country, only to confront a race war back home.
This is an important book, an instant classic.