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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Spartanburg by Richard Fleming is a crime novel with strong hints of racial themes, set in the small town of Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1913 and against the backdrop of a society riddled by the Jim Crow laws. A black man is arrested for raping a white woman, and now there is an angry mob outside the jailhouse, determined to lynch him. Sheriff William James White needs to protect his prisoner, but the mayor and the state governor refuse to offer help. Can there be justice for a black man in a society where racism is rank and rife?
This is a tale of courage against the odds, a narrative that will appeal to fans of A Time to Kill by John Grisham. Spartanburg by Richard Fleming strongly showcases the nature of racial discrimination and sheds a lot of light on what it felt like, and perhaps still feels like, to be black in the South. The author opens the novel with the victim feeling preyed upon: '“A man is following me,” muttered Abigail Marie Potter aloud but to herself. “A Nigra man, I’m sure.” She glanced behind where she had been slowly walking, convinced that someone had slipped out of sight and among the trees.' The author also uses vivid descriptions of the weather or the natural elements to reflect the mood of the characters. Richard Fleming’s novel features well-developed characters and a courageous protagonist in Sheriff Jim. Spartanburg is a powerful indictment of the inequality of equal men and the viciousness of the Jim Crow Laws.