Quick Overview :
Hammett Prize Winner, 2012
Willie Black is a newspaper reporter who has squandered a lot of things in this life - his liver, his lungs, a couple of former wives and a floundering daughter can all attest to his abuse. He's lucky to be employed, having managed to drink and smart-talk his way out of a nice, cushy job covering (and partying with) the politicians down at the capitol.
Now, he's back on the night cops' beat, right where he started when he first came to work at the Richmond paper almost thirty years ago. The thing Willie's always had going for him, though, all the way back to his hardscrabble days as a mixed-race kid on Oregon Hill, where white was the primary color and fighting was everyone's favorite leisure pastime, was grit. His mother, the drug-addled Peggy, gave him that if nothing else. He never backed down then, and he shows no signs of changing.
When a co-ed at the local university where Willi'es daughter is a perpetual student is murdered, her headless body founf alongside the South Anna River, the hapless killer is arrested within days. Everyone but Willie seems to think: case closed. But Willie, against the orders and advice of his boses at the paper, the police and just about everyone else, doesn't think the case is solved at all. He embarks on a one-man crusade to do what he's always done: Get the story.
On the way, Willie runs afoul of David Junior Shiflett, a nightmare from his youth who's now a city cop, and awakens another dark force who everyone thought had disappeared a long time ago. As a result, a score born in the parking lot of an Oregon Hill beer joint forty years before will finally be settled.
The truth is out there. Willie Black's going to dig it out or die trying.
Howard Owen is a novelist and journalist living in Richmond, Va. His 16th novel, "Annie's Bones," came out in April of 2018. His 10th novel, "Oregon Hill," won the Dashiell Hammett Prize for best crime literature in the United States and Canada, given by the International Association of Crime Writers. Owen's last six novels have been mysteries, starring night police reporter Willie Black. Struck by either an epiphany or a midlife crisis, Owen wrote his first novel, "Littlejohn," in 1990. The first draft took him about 100 days. When it was published, Owen was sports editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He also has been deputy managing editor of the Times-Dispatch and editorial pages editor of the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va. He is now writing full-time. When he was a journalist, he never took a sabbatical, adhering instead to a schedule that included about an hour a day for writing or revising. He has found that it is possible to do great things with an hour a day, every day. He is married to Karen Van Neste Owen, book doctor, former Viewpoints editor of the Free Lance-Star and his sweetheart of since they were kids. He grew up near Fayetteville, N.C., on the edge of his grandfather's farm. He likes Paris, the Washington Redskins, snowy days, steamed crabs, Smithfield ham, North Carolina barbecue, bourbon and water, cold long-neck Miller High-Lifes on a hot summer day, other people covering Dylan songs, movies that surprise him and the company of good friends.