by: Michael Almond
July 5, 1900, Wilkes County, North Carolina: The beautiful young daughter of tannery owner Jakob Schumann is found dead on the north bank of the Yadkin River, brutally beaten, a skinning knife in her chest.
Who killed Rachel Schumann? And why? Ambitious Wilkes prosecutor Vincent Taliaferro has arrested Virgil Wade, a mixed-race boy, and is convinced the case is open and shut. But local lawyer Ben Waterman is not so sure. Ben’s investigation uncovers evidence that undermines the prosecutor’s case and points in an entirely different direction. But can he prove it? Can he convince an all-White, all-male jury of Virgil’s innocence?
The Tannery transports readers to the turbulent world of the post-Reconstruction South. Reflecting issues prominent in today’s headlines, themes of Black voter suppression and intimidation, the violence and depravity of vigilante “justice,” and the rise of Jim Crow drive the narrative to its dramatic and surprising conclusion.
Helen says: 🤓🤓🤓🤓 1/2
Our highbrow read of the month- I am rooting for this book to succeed. It was written by a family friend- Michael Almond- and it was really quite remarkable! Extremely well written, it starts off as a North Carolina history lesson and morphs into an enthralling crime story. Do yourself a favor and read this book!
Holly says: 🤓🤓🤓🤓 1/4
I loved this book! Part historical fiction, part crime story, part courtroom drama, part mystery, with wonderful character development – set in N.C. during a very volatile and violent time in the state’s political and social history. At first you may feel a little inundated with the number and names of characters, but stick with it, you will get it all soon enough. The cadence and style of writing is wonderful. Ben Waterman is more than a little reminiscent of Atticus Finch. You will be rooting for him! This tale has lots of twists and turns, pleasant surprises and disappointments, and some shocking revelations – I promise you will not be bored. I had not heard of this book prior to reading it – it was recommended by Helen – and I was so glad we chose to read it. My favorite of the month! Highly recommended.