Valerie Wilson Wesley, Dying in the Dark Review

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Harriet Klausner's review of Valerie Wilson Wesley, Dying in the Dark


“Dying in the Dark ”

Written on: 04/09/2004 by Harriet Klausner (18637 reviews written)

Dying in the Dark

Valerie Wilson Wesley

Ballantine, Oct 2004, $22.95, 240 pp.

ISBN: 0345468066

Tired of the sexism and racism of the Newark Police Department, Tamara Hayle quits the force and opens up Hayle Investigative Service. Years later she might not have much money, but she relishes her independence and self-reliance, which leaves her very contented.

One day, a gangster-looking male introduces himself as Cecil Jones, the son of Tamara's "used to be best friend" Celia. He wants to hire her to find out who killed his mother because he believes that the mostly white police force is not going to bother to learn who murdered a promiscuous black woman. Tamara wants nothing to do with the case, but agrees because of the plea she sees in Cecil's eyes. He gives Tamara his mother's notebook and several other items that might prove useful and places four hundred dollars in cash on her desk before walking away. A week later, Tamara learns that someone murdered her client, but she continues her inquiries as she is determined to find out who killed Cecil and his mother. Tamara interviews people who knew Celia and realizes that she broke many hearts with one person enacting vengeance.

The protagonist refuses to allow any negative isms to stop her from living life her way, especially doing her job; readers will admire her spunk. Cecilia grew up in poverty as an unwanted child with low esteem, seeking someone to truly love her, but failed and eventually ended up in the wrong place. Readers see this sad picture through Tamara's flashbacks and muses about their childhood as best "sisters" and through her inquiries. Valerie Wilson Wesley provides a fabulous private investigative tale with a deep social and psychological underpinning.

Harriet Klausner

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