In 1881, Atlanta is preparing to celebrate the International Cotton Exposition. When wealthy black entrepreneurs are discovered brutally murdered, detective Thomas Canby is asked to return to Atlanta from Ringgold, Georgia to help solve the crimes. Canby left Atlanta several years earlier because of accusations concerning accepting bribes. Reluctantly he returns to Atlanta, not only to clear his name, but also to join his old friend Chief of Police Vernon Thompson, along with Atlanta’s first black detective, Cyrus Underwood. Faced with racism and Jim Crow laws in Atlanta and trying to regain his love affair with schoolteacher Julia Preston, he takes on the search for the serial killer. He soon learns that the power of Atlanta, known as the Ring, is in political control of the city.
The Old South comes alive in this novel – the prejudices against the black population, the segregation of its citizens, and the overwhelming desire to begin a New South through the Exposition, even inviting General Sherman to be a keynote speaker at the event.
Award-winning author Matthew Guinn has written an excellent sequel to the first novel (The Resurrectionist, 2013) in his series of mysteries set in the Reconstruction South. The author superbly portrays the evil that lurks along the streets of post-war Atlanta. His research of Atlanta after the war is impeccable, and the plot, with its twists and turns, is fast-paced, gripping, and compels the reader to turn each page. I highly recommend this mystery.