genre/noir, St. Martin’s Minotaur, 2011
Reviews for Devil’s Slew, St.Martin’s/Minotaur
“. . . Wimberley knows his weaponry, swamp terrain and small-town prejudices better than most. If hard-boiled is what you’re after, Raines qualifies as the black hero du jour.”–Kirkus Reviews
“Vivid descriptive prose and a keen ear for local dialect distinguish Wimberley’s explosive fifth mystery featuring African-American special agent Barrett Raines… Bear knows every inch and most of the diverse inhabitants of his seven-county northwestern Florida jurisdiction, including Quentin Hart, an Afghanistan War vet who takes his girlfriend hostage in his trailer in a swamp area known as Devil’s Slew…” Publishers’ Weekly
“. . . Wimberley captures the 3rd District with its slash pines, blacktop roads, abandoned double-wides, vine-tangled bogs and endemic poverty with compelling accuracy. . . Wimberley weaves a tight web of a story, with flashes of fear and churning violence, but he also takes the time to spool out the telling details of his characters. They range from the Harley-riding vet with her Bible and memories of grinding sugarcane, to the middle-aged kayaking game wardens who make a particularly grisly discovery hauling litter out of the Gulf. . .” P.G. Koch
“Darryl Wimberley’s fifth book, Devil’s Slew, is a true hard hitting mystery that kept me reading. FDLE agent, Bear Raines is forced to kill an old friend’s son. Is the death tied to a missing Treasury Department agent, a Mexican drug cartel, a rogue group of Marines, or a major counterfeiting operation? There were several twist to this fast moving plot that I did not expect. Wimberley knows the flora, fauna, and culture of the Panhandle well. He also has done his research with law enforcement operations which makes this a smooth read. This is a very well written and researched true mystery that takes the reader from their home, to the Panhandle of Florida. Probably the biggest mystery is; why haven’t I heard of Bear Raines before now?” M. Hammond, for Amazon.com
genre, The Toby Press, 2008
literary fiction, The Toby Press, 2007
Winner, The Willie Morris Award for Fiction, 2007
Wimberley revisits the rural north Florida featured in A Tinker’s Damn(2000) in this powerful portrayal of a segregated community at the height of the Civil Rights movement. In 1963 Cilla Handsom, a high school junior living in Laureate’s “Colored Town,” learns that her senior year will be spent at an integrated white school on the other end of town, where fear and racist fury permeate the halls. A brash charmer named Joe Billy King blows into town after robbing a church in Tallahassee and becomes Cilla’s first lover. He discovers Cilla’s gift for music and enlists the help of a teacher to secure Cilla access to music lessons and instruments. Cilla focuses on her music and her studies, but she and Joe Billy attract the attention of the Klan and are brutally assaulted. In the aftermath, Joe Billy sacrifices himself to protect Cilla. Though the tension lags after Cilla leaves Colored Town, Wimberley’s take on the prickly themes of racism and poverty is made memorable by a gripping story line, authentic voice and dead-on dialogue.
(Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
The Washington Post – Carolyn See
…Yes, this is America, and our responsibility, our obligation, is to succeed here to the very best of our ability. But this fascinating novel illustrates the often horrid results of that process. Joe Billy is the obvious victim here but Cilla, too, sustains dreadful physical and psychological wounds. Perhaps Little Richard said it best in his song about Adam being kicked out of Paradise: “He got what he wanted but he lost what he had.” What Cilla had, to begin with, was her unquestionable humanity as well as her talent. It may be that she has sacrificed the one to nourish the other.
Ann H. Fisher – Library Journal
Wimberley’s (Dead Man’s Bay) surprisingly affecting novel explores school integration in Florida in the 1960s through the eyes of tall, musically gifted Cilla Handsom, the black teenage daughter of an autistic mother who requires a lot of care. The section of Laureate, where she lives, is dubbed “Colored Town” and lacks running water and music, but for one well and radio. Cilla’s old life of toting water and helping her mother perform at church is interrupted by the arrival of charismatic Joe Billy King by train one day and by her teacher’s request that she join the marching band at the county’s formerly all-white school in exchange for music lessons. The drama includes some Southern gothic twists, but Cilla’s life reveals an authentic glimpse of a moment in history. Recommended.
Fate deals two African-American teens different hands in Northern Florida’s mean, segregated backcountry. Wimberley (Strawman’s Hammock, 2001, etc.) paints complex characters against a backdrop of brutally violent racial oppression. In the early 1960s, the black section of Laureate, Fla., doesn’t even have running water. Seventeen-year-old Cilla Handsom spends most of her time there taking care of her “simple” mother, who can nonetheless vividly play any melody she hears on the piano. Cilla has inherited her mother’s gift, along with perfect pitch; she teaches herself to read and play music. No one notices until a cavalier, independent teenager named Joe Billy King moves to town. He and Cilla quickly become an item, and he informs the sole educated, caring teacher at their black school about her unique talents. The town is on the verge of integrating its educational system, and the band director at the white school needs a French-horn player; he agrees to take on Cilla as a student if she will learn to play the instrument. School integration proceeds despite the objections of Laureate’s white residents, largely thanks to Sheriff Collard Jackson, the one man not intimidated by wealthy bully Garner Hewitt and his two nasty sons, Cody and J.T. Cilla tentatively thrives in this new environment, and Joe Billy seizes an opportunity that will change both their lives. While stealing money from the collection tray at a church, he witnesses several men fleeing in Cody Hewitt’s truck just before the church is burned to the ground. Sheriff Jackson gets Joe Billy off the hook in exchange for his testimony, but the incident sparks a racial war that ends in acts of horrendous violence against both JoeBilly and Cilla, who has just won a college scholarship to study music. When one of the pair kills a man in self-defense, they must decide together who will take the fall and who will rise above it. Truly heartfelt storytelling.
genre/noir, St. Martin’s/Minotaur, 2007
“Special agent Barrett “Bear” Raines has some slippery fish to fry in Wimberley’s cleverly constructed fourth procedural (after 2001’s Strawman’s Hammock), which hinges on the gruesome murder of Beth Ann Stanton, daughter of Florida senator Baxter Stanton. Raines, “a black cop in a white town”—that of Deacon Beach, just north of the Pepperfish Keys—is still smarting from his recent failure to tie the senator’s wealth to dirty money. Eddy DeLeon, Beth Ann’s boyfriend and a local criminal, becomes a key suspect after his tryst with Beth Ann on the day of the murder comes to light. When Sharon Fowler, an ambitious local TV reporter, offers to help Bear nail DeLeon, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent agrees despite his misgivings. The twisted killer—whose identity is a real shocker—challenges Bear to trust his gut instincts as well as standard investigative procedure. Wimberley is a top-notch writer with command of both his plot and the northwestern Florida coastal setting.” Publishers’ Weekly .
The investigation into Senator Baxter Stanton’s money laundering on behalf of local drug kingpin Eddy DeLeon ends badly for Florida state cop Barrett Raines, who becomes the Judas goat when a judge dismisses the case for lack of credible evidence. Then, when Beth Ann, the senator’s daughter, is murdered, Raines improbably catches the case and finds an unexpected ally in television reporter Sharon Fowler, Raines’ most virulent critic when he investigated the senator. The fourth “Bear” Raines case ranges from Florida to Los Angeles, and its melodious prose brings the same sense of paradise lost to northwest Florida that James Lee Burke evokes in his Louisiana-set Dave Robicheaux novels. Raines is indeed a bear, both in carriage and in ferocious determination. The senator is publicly grieving, but Raines senses an ambivalence about the senator’s desire to see the killer apprehended. It seems the senator’s alleged partner, Eddy DeLeon, is the most likely suspect, but if he’s apprehended, his motive would link him to the senator and would thereby reconstitute the money-laundering charges. If not now, then very soon, Raines should join Robicheaux, John Sanford’s Lucas Davenport, and Robert B. Parker’s Spenser at the hard-boiled-hero head table. Lukowsky, Wes Copyright © American Library Association.
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