by Matthew Guinn
W.W. Norton, 2015. 292 pgs. Mystery
Post Civil War Atlanta is trying to rise above the ashes and establish itself as a world-class trade hub by hosting an International Cotton Exhibition where all are welcome from home and abroad (even General Sherman is invited). But the success of the exhibition is threatened by a serial killer whose barbarously murdered victims (faint of heart and stomach should exit here) are successful black men and women who are making a name for themselves. Each victim so far has had a letter carved into his or her forehead: M - A - L . . . so far. Vernon Thompson, Atlanta chief of police, is worried someone in his squad might be involved so he asks a former detective, Thomas Canby to come back into the city to help out. Canby and his partner, Cyrus Underwood, the first black policeman on Atlanta's force, race through an authentic post-bellum Atlanta to try to stop the killings but seem always one step behind an intelligent, taunting murderer. A fine period piece which is also a a suspenseful, even frightening thriller, The Scribe is hopefully not the last of Thomas Canby and Cyrus Underwood's adventures.