Blood on the Leaves
Title: Blood on the Leaves
Author: Jeff Stetson
Charismatic African-American professor Martin Matheson polarizes students and the larger Jackson, Miss., community with his incendiary lectures about lynching and other atrocities inflicted by local whites upon local blacks at the height of the struggle for civil rights. Blood evidence links Matheson to the killing of unrepentant racist Earvin Cooper and being tried not for inciting murder (as seems likely) but for the murder itself.
Combining the suspense of John Grisham’s A Time to Kill with the moral complexity of Richard Wright’s Native Son, this debut novel asks the question: How far can a man go to balance the scales of justice? In the 1960s, racism was rampant in Jackson, Mississippi, and it was common for white mencaught in the act of killing blacks to be acquitted by allwhite juries. But 40 years later, someone is seeking justice; those same men are turning up dead-in the identical manner in which they killed their victims. Now, James Reynolds, who has overcome the odds-and his own personal demons-to become the only black prosecutor in Jackson, will face the toughest case of his life: He’ll have to prosecute prime suspect Martin Matheson, a brilliant professor, the son of a venerated Civil Rights leader, and the newly appointed folk hero for thousands of African Americans hungry for retribution. Stigmatized by the community as an Uncle Tom, Reynolds must break through the media blitz and mounting racial tensions to find the truth-and search his soul to determine where justice ends and vengeance begins.