Simon & Schuster, Feb 2001, 25.00, 301 pp.
Jerusalem's Landing has a fascinating history when it comes to blacks and slavery starting before the Civil War began. Blacks remained on the property of their owners, but their children were set free at sixteen for girls and eighteen for boys. These free blacks worked on farms and as house servants. A shortage of white females led to many interracial marriages. The descendants of these unions are considered white or bleached.
By 1933, there remained only two families of purebred blacks and both resided on BEULAH HILL. When one of the town's white bad boys was found dead in the woods near Beaulah Hill, many residents believed that one of the Blacks killed the lad. Constable Samuel Bradley, a bleached white and a lifelong recipient of racism, accompanies his boss Sheriff French Le May as they look for a murderer and struggle to keep a vigilante mob from killing someone in the name of justice.
This work provides an appealing gaze at a small Vermont town during the Great depression and Prohibition. The undercurrent of bigotry is depressing, but an accurate depiction of the period. Though well done, the murder mystery stays in the rear as William Hefferman writes his best work to date, a historical novel that will bring him much acclaim to an already stellar career.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner