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Blood on the leaves
Jeff Stetson
Adult Fiction STETSON

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Stetson's first novel gets off to a provocative start: in contemporary Mississippi, charismatic African-American professor Martin Matheson polarizes students and the larger Jackson, Miss., community with his incendiary lectures about lynchings and other atrocities inflicted by local whites upon local blacks at the height of the struggle for civil rights. The inclusion of graphic photos in the lectures, as well as the names and addresses of the unpunished perpetrators, sparks controversy and a spate of revenge killings of the identified men. On this riveting premise, Stetson builds a thriller cum social commentary cum character study, anchored in a courtroom drama. In this, the book resembles nothing so much as a (very good) episode of Law & Order, with a controversial issue depicted in broad, compelling strokes and examined from a number of vantage points. Because blood evidence links Matheson to the killing of unrepentant racist Earvin Cooper, he's tried not for inciting murder (as seems likely) but for murder itself. Prosecuting Matheson is a meticulous and well-respected black deputy district attorney, James Reynolds, who, caught in the middle of the larger ethical debate, becomes the novel's moral center. Todd Miller, venerable white liberal past his courtroom prime, defends Matheson, who takes the strategic lead in his defense. Miller and Reynolds have often faced each other before, but never in a case like this. Reynolds has a rough time in court, and a rougher one outside, under siege for the first time in his life by members of the black community. Stetson's sharp storytelling pushes buttons as skillfully as Matheson's lectures in this promising debut. (July 7) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

In his first novel, African American playwright Stetson (The Meeting) offers a gripping study of the consequences of racism in the United States. Martin Matheson, a professor at a Southern college, teaches a course that identifies victims of racial hate crimes in the 1960s and the possible perpetrators who escaped criminal conviction. Matheson comes under immediate suspicion when a killing spree targets the suspected white perpetrators who were the subject of his class. James Reynolds, a black prosecutor, is assigned the case when the professor is arrested for the murders. During the trial, the story evolves from a murder mystery to an examination of the continuing question of justice versus revenge. In the end, the identity of the killer becomes less important than the ongoing psychological problems facing Reynolds, Matheson, and their families and acquaintances, as well as the social issues brought out by the class and the subsequent murders. Stetson does a superb job of transcending the basic story to create a thought-provoking book. Recommended.--Joel W. Tscherne, Cleveland P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

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more titles about

main characters Martin Matheson
African American
History professor; controversial.

James Reynolds
African American
Deputy district attorney; prosecuting attorney.

Todd Miller
Veteran defense attorney.

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