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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of When Ghosts Come Home by Wiley Cash

I loved Cash's Eastern North Carolina setting, the character of Sherriff Winston Barnes, and the pulsing racial, class-based, and family conflicts explored in When Ghosts Come Home.

In his newest book, Wiley Cash offers a mystery and police procedural set in a small Southern town. When Ghosts Come Home centers around racial tensions, political angles, and the testing of longstanding allegiances in mid-1980s Eastern North Carolina.

Sheriff Winston Barnes knows he probably won't be reelected. He does things by the book and isn't flashy, while his aggressive opponent seems to amass more wealth and (dubious sources of) support each passing day. Meanwhile, Winston's wife is in cancer treatment and his daughter has just experienced a devastating loss and is drifting, unmoored. He's got a lot on his plate.

But when a body and an abandoned airplane are found in his quiet, coastal North Carolina town, Winston must try to unravel the mystery of the events at hand.

Rumors, long-simmering conflicts, clashing loyalties, and Barnes's personal tragedy all complicate the discovery of the truth. I was all in for the shocking events that occurred late in the book.

The very end of the story brought to light a sudden burst of twisty complications and cemented the course of events, but these goings-on occurred off the page and were summarized for the reader. I found that deeply unsatisfying. But I really like Cash's character-driven mystery writing, and I'm definitely in for reading his future books.

I received a prepublication digital edition of this book courtesy of NetGalley and William Morrow.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Wiley Cash is also the author of A Land More Kind than Home, The Last Ballad, and This Dark Road to Mercy. He's the writer-in-residence at University of North Carolina-Asheville.

Stay tuned for my upcoming ICYMI (In Case You Missed It) review of The Last Ballad.

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