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Willie Black Books In Order

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Publication Order of Willie Black Books

Willie Black by Howard Owen
Author Howard Owen writes the “Willie Black” series of mystery novels. The series began publication in the year 2012 when “Oregon Hill” was released.

“Oregon Hill” won a Hammett Prize for best Crime Literature in the United States and Canada in the year 2012. “Grace” was a finalist for Nashville’s Silver Falchion Award for Best Fiction Adult Mystery in the US.

Willie Black works as a newspaper reporter. He has been married multiple times and has a daughter. Willie does not like to be told what he should or should not do, or what he is supposed to write about.

“Oregon Hill” is the first novel in the “Willie Black” series, which was released in the year 2012. Willie Black has squandered quite a bit of things in his life: his lungs and liver, a couple of ex-wives and a struggling daughter are all able to attest for his abuse. He is lucky just to be employed at all, managing to smart-talk and drink himself out of a cushy and nice job covering (as well as party with) politicians down at the capitol.

He is back working the night cops’ beat, where he started when he first worked at the Richmond paper close to thirty years back. Willie has always had grit going for him. Even going back to his hardscrabble days as a mixed race youth on Oregon Hill, a place where white is the primary color and fighting is the favorite pastime. His drug addled mom, Peggy, gave that to him, if nothing else. He refused to back down then, and shows zero signs of changing now.

A co-ed at the local university where Willie’s daughter perpetually attends is killed, and her headless corpse is found near the South Anna River. The killer is arrested in just a few days. Everybody but Willie believes the case is close. Willie goes against orders and advice of his bosses at the newspaper, the cops, and everybody else, and doesn’t believe the case is at all solved. He sets off on a one-man crusade to do what he has been doing: Get the story.

Along the way, Willie runs into some difficulty with a nightmare from his past, named David Junior Shiflett, who is now a city cop. Willie awakens a dark force that everybody believed had vanished long ago. The result is that a score that began in an Oregon Hill joint’s parking lot will be settled forty years later.

The truth is out there somewhere. Willie Black will dig it out or he will die trying.

Howard Owen nails the setting in this one. The dialogue and his ability to capture the dirty work the cops and news reporters gives the narrative much more authenticity. Owen pens an excellent book with a surprising and deft plot that builds up to a satisfying conclusion. It makes readers hope there are more sequels with Willie in them.

“The Philadelphia Quarry” is the second novel in the “Willie Black” series, which was released in the year 2013. Willie continues to cover the night police beat with the dirt naps and DDGBs. He manages to avoid the hawk that swoops down occasionally to pluck away some more colleagues in a struggling business. His disobeys too much and drinks far too much. He is a fine reporter, which is all that keeps him employed. Even his troubled bosses have to admit that.

Willie is neck-deep in a section of Richmond that a kid growing up in Oregon Hill is only able to experience through illicit sorties at midnight at the most exclusive swimming hole in the city. The Quarry is the place where Alicia Parker Simpson identified her rapist as Richard Slade 28 years ago. DNA evidence later freed Slade from the prison system where he had spent all of his adult life. Five days later, Alicia Simpson gets shot to death.

There are few that doubt Richard Slade did it. And who could blame him? Willie doubts it. The city’s old money pushes him to crush the story, and Willie is only more determined to find out the truth. Willie is made more tenacious due to the fact that Richard Slade is one of his cousins, as well as a link to his long-deceased black dad.

By the end, Willie is going to be pulled back to the Philadelphia Quarry, where everything all started way back when. In those murky waters where the truth lies in wait.

The book has a stellar plot, some incredible characters that are all likable. The dialogue is clever and the mystery has been well thought out.

“Parker Field” is the third novel in the “Willie Black” series, which was released in the year 2014. Les Hacker seems to have no enemies in the entire world, other than the person that tried to murder him with a high-powered rifle while he sat on a park bench located six floors under Willie’s living room window. Les has been the closest Willie has had to a father figure in his checkered life of journalism, drinking, and divorces. His qualifications are much better than any of the other men that Willie’s mom took in over the years. That only makes him a tall midget, as Willie would say.

With Les hanging on to life by just a thread, Willie takes a short break to do a story on his surrogate father and the final minor league baseball team Les played for. The Richmond Virginians in 1964.

There is just one issue. Willie tries to get a hold of the other team members, he finds that most of them are dead. Most before they got their ten years and three-score. The police already have the guy that shot Les locked up, a homeless man that hangs out in the park. He fired from his coat pocket. Case closed. Willie’s publisher and the cops want him to quit wasting both their time and his own and get back on the beat. Willie gets an idea that someone is murdering the whole starting lineup of that old long-forgotten baseball team, against all logic and reason.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Willie Black

One Response to “Willie Black”

  1. Mary Lou: 10 months ago

    HI, I love these books. I have lived in Richmond most of my life and did not know much of the information in these books. Hope Willie Black has another book after “Monument”.


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