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By  Howard Owen

ISBN 978-1-57962-567-2

A familiar name piques Willie Black’s interest on a slow news day: Scuffletown Park. He and the first of his four wives lived next to the pocket park when they were young and still on speaking terms.

Now, Scuffletown is the site of a crime scene, one that doesn’t fit the usual modus operandi for Richmond. For one thing, there’s plenty of blood but no body. Also, it seems that a knife was involved, a rarity Willie’s gun-happy city. And, Scuffletown is in the heart of the Fan, where violence is a blessedly rare occurrence.

Before long there is a body. There also is a neighbor who caught the deed on his iPhone camera.  When his old friend and current police flack Peachy Love gives Willie a sneak peek at the remarkably clear photograph, he starts wishing he’d never seen Scuffletown Park again. How is it possible that Abe Custalow is standing over what appears to be a very dead body?

Abe has been sharing Willie Black’s condo since Willie found his childhood pal living homeless in Monroe Park. Even now, with Willie married to the lovely Cindy Peroni Black, Abe remains ensconced there. OK, he did kill a guy once, but the guy deserved killing, and Abe’s been Mr. Clean ever since.

With his condo-mate in jail, Willie does what a good reporter does best: He starts digging, with no assistance from Custalow, who insists that Willie “just leave it alone.”

That would go against every instinct in Willie Black’s nosy-ass body, but when he finally gets within hailing distance of the truth, he understands why Abe wanted him to back off. Before Scuffletown reaches its conclusion, Willie knows he will have to risk his oldest friendship in order to save his oldest friend from a life behind bars.

This is Howard Owen’s 17th novel and the seventh in the Willie Black mystery series. Owen was a longtime newspaperman, working at everything from reporter to sports editor to editorial pages editor. He has been writing fiction since 1989. He and his wife, Karen, live in Richmond. Among his earlier novels are the best-selling Littlejohn and the Willie Black mystery, Oregon Hill, which won the Dashiell Hammett prize for best crime literature in the United States and Canada.

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