The very prolific Ace Collins brings us a completely spellbinding novel, in all probability one of the best he has written. It is divided into two parts; the first taking place in the mid 1960s and the second moving to the present time. The theme is race relations in both instances.
Cooper Lindsay was born in the Mississippi town of Justice, went out of the area to get his law degree and returned home with both his degree and a wife. He opens a practice after working away from the area for a few years in order to be able to help his cancer stricken mother The action in the novel begins with the murder of a white girl: Rebecca Booth, and almost immediately a young black man. Calvin Ross is arrested and charged with the murder.
Calvin’s aunt Hattie who used to work as a maid in church calls on Coop, as he is popularly termed, and begs him to defend her nephew. She says that she has no money to pay Calvin’s legal fees, Cooper is her only hope. Coop realizes that taking the case will probably alienate him from the town’s white population since Jim Crow is alive and well in this period and ultimately force him to move away from Justice. The factor influencing him to go ahead with the defense are his memories of his father who preached at church and taught Coop the meaning of responsibility and right and wrong.
The first section of the book deals with the trial and the problems encountered with mounting a defense for Calvin in the light of the prejudice that exists in Justice causing the town to be divided between black and white.
Part two is set in 2014. Coop’s grandson comes to Justice in order to investigate questions remaining from the trial and events in 1964. He is named after his grandfather and also called Coop. He finds himself immersed in another murder, but circumstances are very different. Justice has been fully integrated with whites and blacks each holding responsible and important positions. A black young man has been killed, and a white confesses to the crime. Coop is asked to help the lawyers working with the white boy since all they seem to want to do is have him make a deal with the prosecution. Coop goes ahead and a second and the definitive part of the novel takes place.
What has occurred in Justice influencing both periods and both trials is well thought out, and very well delineated. The book is guaranteed to keep the reader glued to it’s pages and fascinated by what is going on. Excellent book written by an author at the top of his game.
10/14 Paul Lane
THE COLOR OF JUSTICE by Ace Collins. Abingdon Press (October 7, 2014). ISBN 978-1426770036. 320p.