Wiley Cash has a way of making Southern readers feel right at home – a skill he repeats in his latest novel, When Ghosts Come Home. Our characters are complex, not to mention our settings, and in his latest work, Cash dives right in to race, family, politics and “progress” in the form of urban development. And while these themes are obviously nothing new, Cash applies a modern perspective.
Sheriff Winston Barnes and his wife are awakened one night by what sounds like an airplane crash. What Barnes finds when he goes to investigate is a plane far too large for the airport that serves their small Carolina coastal town, turned askew, empty of both cargo and passengers, and nearby, the dead body of local Black man. Rumors and speculation take hold immediately of a drug deal gone bad, and Barnes – who is up for re-election in less than a week – finds himself among a minority who won’t believe this man could be involved in drugs.
Barnes begins trying to solve the mystery of the murder and the plane but his political opponent is working to establish himself as the new law in town, in particular by giving the dead-man’s young nephew a hard time. A Black teenager who is new to town (his parents sent him to live with his sister after he got into a bit of trouble at home in Atlanta) is the perfect suspect or scapegoat to hone in on.
And if this weren’t enough, Barnes daughter has returned home unexpectedly. Mourning a late-term miscarriage, she’s seeking her own asylum in the familiarly of home.
If this sounds like a lot is going on, it is. But for those who love a steady narrative driven by characters who keep you guessing, this will be an entertaining and worthwhile read. And the ending will be one that you won’t soon forget.
I was provided an advanced reader copy of When Ghosts Come Home by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. To learn more, go to netgalley.com. When Ghosts Come Home will be available on August 31, 2021.
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