Wiley Cash’s newest novel tells the story of the humming underbelly of small-town racial tension, and the rippling effects it has on ignored crime, dirty politics, and decades of silence that can occur when we remain grappling with what remains unsaid in rural southern communities. While the novel takes place decades ago, the core themes of When Ghosts Come Home are a reminder that serves as a clarion call for us all to realize that things can remain festering well into the twenty-first century when good men do nothing.
The novel follows Sheriff Winston Barnes who is awoken to a bizarre murder tied to a small aircraft accident in his sleepy community. Barnes is barely holding on to his seat as county sheriff, facing down a violent, racist, narcissistic opponent who will stop at nothing to take Barnes down and lay claim to money and development rights that will secure his future as the manliest white man in town. When racial tensions begin to boil over connected to the motive and the circumstances surrounding the crime, and Barnes’ daughter returns home from Texas after a debilitating loss that has upended her life and her marriage, Barnes begins to make some of the hardest choices of his life to keep his family and community from spiraling apart – and as many of the community’s Korean and Vietnam veterans have suggested, stop what may turn into an all-out war at home.
Wiley Cash is a master storyteller. His characters and mastery over the structure and suspense of his stories is in full bloom in When Ghosts Come Home. This is a compelling read, with real world consequences that are unmistakably mirrored in our divisive modern political climate. Cash brings us into the fabric of his story with an atmosphere and engagement that is nothing less than electric, making it a fast read with heavy thematic resonance that affects us all. Simply put, Cash’s new book is a masterpiece of crime fiction and of immense heart.
When Ghosts Come Home comes out today from William Morrow.
Photo by By Jackel1984 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32380535