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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
“I would love to hear readers’ comments concerning this book, both positive and negative. It was my first attempt...” So writes John W Long, author of Red Blood on White Cotton at the end of this incredible novel, and right off the bat I’d like to tell him that I could only wish my first book had been half as good as this one! Not only is the plot superbly developed, but the characters and what happens to them are unforgettable. Long has chosen to move back and forth between the present and the past to tell this story. In the hands of a less skilled writer, this can be a quick way to lose readers. But in Red Blood on White Cotton, it is necessary, since what happened to the protagonist, John Reynolds, as a child has everything to do with who he is when we meet him at his father’s funeral: Calvin Reynolds, a wealthy plantation owner, was one cruel father.
It is finding out why John grew up hating his father that is the most memorable part of this story, even more engaging perhaps than the investigation on which John embarks in the present. This investigation is to solve the mystery of his beloved brother’s death 30 years earlier. What he finally uncovers about what was going on in his father’s life when John was just a youngster would have ruined his family’s standing in the community. It exposes corruption and criminal activities at all levels of society and politics and makes for exciting reading as we wait for the crooks to get caught.
Red Blood on White Cotton is rich in historic detail about the hardships endured by farming families and their workers. Long’s descriptions are eye-opening, graphic, never boring and definitely unforgettable. Dialogue is realistic and expertly handled, and thankfully, the author knows the value of more showing and less telling, allowing readers to draw their own conclusions about all the characters and their motivations. This is great writing. I am really looking forward to what John W Long has in store for us next. Red Blood on White Cotton might be a tough act to follow!