Jennifer Erin Valent
Tyndale, Oct 1 2010, $12.99
By 1938 in Calloway, though only nineteen Jessilyn Lassiter has loved Luke Talley for years. Everyone even Luke called it puppy love, but no more as he is beginning to care for her.
A black doctor Tal Pritchett moves to Calloway to practice medicine and begins to court Jessilyn’s best friend, Gemma Teague. Many of the white locals are irate over a black behaving like a professional and a rock is tossed through his window, but they explode when elderly Miss Cleta becomes his first white patient. Soon afterward Noah Jarvis, a black friend of Jessilyn, is lynched by apparently the Klan who terrorizes the townsfolk regardless of race.
This is an interesting late Depression Era thriller that provides a deep look at a small town in the south in which the Klan, thought gone, has returned frightening blacks and somewhat surprisingly whites too. The cast is strong though Jessilyn is perhaps too outspoken with her beliefs when the Klan has just about everyone else panicking in abject terror not to cross (no pun intended) them. Still this is a refreshing look at the destructiveness of institutional loathing and individual hatred on a person and ultimately a community.