Book Review: “The Gone Dead” by Chanelle Benz

gone deadAfter the passing of her grandmother, Billie James leaves her comfortable life in Philadelphia to look into the small house she has inherited in the Mississippi Delta. The last time she had been in the house she was 4 years old and her father, a renowned black poet, was found dead in the swamp outside. She was allegedly the only other person present the night of his death, but has no memory of what occurred. Upon her return, she meets up with family members and townspeople she hasn’t spoken to in decades, and tries to finally piece together what exactly happened. She finds most people, particularly those who knew her father well, unwilling to tell her much, and as she persists in her search for answers, she finds herself potentially in danger with those who want to keep the past buried. Written in a plain but propulsive style, the story moves along at a brisk pace. Billie is well-drawn as a person and the central mystery is well-plotted, but most other characters seem to be there solely to serve the purposes of the story and the ultimate resolution feels a little abrupt. The real point of this book however is to examine the wounds that racism have left on the American South, and the very real ways that it persists to this day, and to that end it excels. ★★★★ – Sean Farrell

NOTE: This book is the first title selected for our new online book club. This new program, which launches on March 2, will allow you to join us to discuss selected books from the comfort of your own home on a quarterly basis. To learn more and to sign up, click here:

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★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor

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