Between Black and White
McMurtrie & Drake #2
By: Robert Bailey
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: 3/15/2016
My Rating: 5 Stars
In 1966 in Pulaski, Tennessee, Bocephus Haynes watched in horror as his father was brutally murdered by ten local members of the Ku Klux Klan. As an African American lawyer practicing in the birthplace of the Klan years later, Bo has spent his life pursuing justice in his father’s name. But when Andy Walton, the man believed to have led the lynch mob forty-five years earlier, ends up murdered in the same spot as Bo’s father, Bo becomes the prime suspect.
Retired law professor Tom McMurtrie, Bo’s former teacher and friend, is a year removed from returning to the courtroom. Now McMurtrie and his headstrong partner, Rick Drake, must defend Bo on charges of capital murder while hunting for Andy Walton’s true killer. In a courtroom clash that will put their reputations and lives at stake, can McMurtrie and Drake release Bo from a lifetime of despair? Or will justice remain hidden somewhere between black and white?
A special thank you to Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Robert Bailey returns following debut and first in his new legal series: McMurtie and Drake, The Professor, with a strong follow-up; the highly anticipated #2 BETWEEN BLACK AND WHITE. With the return of some likable characters we met in book one—for a riveting fast-paced series of obsession, revenge, murder, and racial injustice. Interweaving family, crimes, lies, and secrets past and present in a mesmerizing thriller featuring Southern lawyer and former law Professor. A conspiracy of greed and murder, where no one is safe, whether black or white. From Tennessee Aug 18, 1966, we meet a young boy, Bo (Bocephus) only five years old, a gunshot, a cross, fire, men dressed in costumes (KKK) long white robes with hoods masking their faces. 20 members. His daddy, a field hand. They wanted his dad. A promise to his dad, to take care of his mother, and to one day make something of himself, and to not believe a word of what would be said. I love you. Don’t watch this. He witnessed his father’s brutal murder. Had he witnessed Andy Walton’s voice? Flash forward to Pulaski, Tennessee Aug 18, 2011. Bocephus Aurulius Haynes, now a 6 foot four inches-200 lbs. – a heavyweight- blowing out a knee playing football for Bear Bryant (The Man) at Alabama. He still carried the athletic frame of a middle linebacker. Pushing fifty years old, Bo was an intimidating sight. Bo started out as a black lawyer in the town in the mid-8-s and cut his teeth on criminal defense and worker’s comp cases, and then started the lucrative personal injury plaintiff cases by the mid-90s. At the tavern, Maggie (Andy’s wife) and Clete reminded him of the date. Forty-five years ago – the anniversary of his dad’s murder by the KKK. Even though Bo was a young boy, he knows Andy Walton (the leader) was behind it. He was going to make them pay for their sins- "an eye for eye." He had seen the Ku Klux Klan up close and personal through five-year-old eyes as they murdered his father. Historians could spin the past however they wished. He had spent a lifetime trying to put the men who did it, in jail. Andy had been a recluse for the last year and holed up at his farm. Of all nights to run into him. Bo had been waiting, since he had moved back to Pulaski after law school in 1985. Maggie Walton had approached him several times asking him to leave her family alone. He would never leave Andy Walton alone. She said he was dying—pancreatic cancer, stage IV. Bo’s wife, Jasmine (Jazz) had begged him to open his practice anywhere but here. However, she finally agreed after accepting a position as an art history professor at Martin Methodist College. He had never lied to her about his motives. He had to bring the men that killed his father to justice. Pulaski had enough bad publicity as the birthplace of the KKK and unless he could bring forward conclusive evidence, the town was content to let sleeping dogs lie. The only thing his investigation had done was bring danger to his family. His quest for vengeance may cost them their lives. He was not alone. He was afraid Andy was going to die before he could bring him to justice. Andy was now an old man, had made millions in the stock market, and he wanted the screams to stop. He wanted closure. He had done bad things. A shotgun. He was now dead. He only heard the screams of the boy from long ago. Now, Bo is being charged with murder. Who else had motive, except for Bo? Shot and hanged on the anniversary date of Bo’s father. Everything after he left the tavern was a blur. What happened last night? He is under arrest. For what? He does not remember. Four eye witnesses who overheard him threaten Any at the tavern earlier. The same spot where the lunching took place – The clearing. He goes there every year on the anniversary of his death. He was alone and no alibi. He had motive. He knows this will be a hardship on the Professor; however, he trusted no one with his life but Tom. Enter Tom McMurtrie, his mentor and professor in law school. Bo is the only African-American attorney in town and worked hard to make a name for himself. Drinking the previous night, a blackout, he does not recall murdering anyone, much less his enemy. Tom, comes out of retirement (gotta love the old guys who have the smarts). Of course one big trucking verdict in Alabama doesn’t mean he is ready for a capital murder trial in Tennessee. Tom McMurtie and Rick Drake take on the task of defending Bo, and try to get the case moved out of Paulaski. From the good ole boy Southerners to the evil enemies….Tom knows Bo is innocent and while working to defend him, they need to find the real killer. From learning the story of a young boy the horrible night, no child should have to witness, he had told his mom everything. Two weeks later he woke up and she was gone. He went to live with his aunt and uncle and never saw his mom again. Bo was the best student Tom every taught. He knew Bo wanted nothing more than to put Andy Walton and every one of the bastards that lynched his daddy in a prison cell. Plus Bo had to know the real reason they killed his father. Some people in town were a little nervous about McMurtrie, the former law professor who had spearheaded the big trail win in Henshaw, Alabama over Jack Willistone, whose trucks had routinely carried loads for many of Andy’s businesses in Giles County. From twists and turns, testimonies, and murder to the explosive ending of what really went down long ago. Dark family secrets and lies of the past are unraveled - revenge. A monster. Racial violence. Wow, this southern legal thriller hooks you from page one to the end. Southern legal fans of John Grisham and Greg Iles will enjoy the well -developed characters and the deliciously evil twisted plot. An ideal choice for the title --looking forward to more from this exciting new author. The showdown reminded me a little of David Baldacci's The Guilty. Review Links:
McMurtrie & Drake #1
About the Author
Robert Bailey’s bestselling debut novel, The Professor, won the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award for legal thriller of the year. His work in the legal fiction genre was praised—alongside Harper Lee’s and Michael Connelly’s—in the spring 2015 issue of Alabama Alumni Magazine. Between Black and White is the sequel to The Professor and is the second novel in the McMurtrie and Drake legal thriller series. For the past sixteen years, Bailey has been a civil defense trial lawyer in his hometown of Huntsville, Alabama, where he lives with his wife and three children. Read More