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Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
Publication date: 1/21/2014
My Rating: (5 Stars)
In the Secret of Magic, the history, facts and background of the tragic murder of a young man as it blends seamlessly, with the fiction with a woman’s determination to bring to light those responsible and justice for this wrongful death.
In 1946 a young African American serviceman, Joe Howard Wilson, was returning from fighting in the war to his home in Mississippi. He was beaten to death; however, the incident was ruled an accident.
Afterwards the NAACP was contacted and a lawyer, Regina to investigate the death and cover-up. Of course, she discovers small Deep South corruption, racism, hypocrisy, bigotry and secrets, and lies. Regina works for Thurgood Marshall, who received a letter asking the NAACP to investigate the murder of a returning black war hero. It is signed by M. P. Calhoun, the most reclusive author in the country.
As a child, Regina was captivated by Calhoun's “The Secret of Magic”, a novel in which white and black children played together in a magical forest.
Once down in Mississippi, Regina finds that nothing in the South is as it seems. She must navigate the muddy waters of racism, relationships, and her own tragic past. Hardly nothing was done to investigate the crime and so many people are keeping silent and as she keeps digging she discovers more than a murder.
I loved the character of Regina (as I am a fan of those who speak out to represent those who cannot and not afraid to risk everything, even with intimidation and threats). She was tenacious and courageous. Mary Pickett, a white woman was torn between doing the right thing, or looking the other way.
This is a bittersweet novel, thought provoking and sometimes heard to read. I enjoyed the story; however it was a little long and drawn out at times, as I listened to the audio version and wanted to fast forward to get to the good parts. However, the narrator (Peter Francsis James) had a soothing southern voice which related well with the characters and the writing was exceptional by Johnson.
Johnson offers a completely engaging southern gothic with unforgettable characters in this fictionalized account of a pivotal NAACP case from the 1940s. It is quite sad humans would actually go to such lengths to get their own way and she gives a true picture of the south during this era and desegregation. Looking forward to reading more from this author!