The Philadelphia Quarry

The Philadelphia Quarry

By Howard Owen

The Permanent Press, Paperback, 9781579623357

Publication Date: July 21, 2013

Black is back. Willie Black was last seen, in Oregon Hill, risking the final tattered remnants of his checkered careeer - and his life - to free a man almost everyone else believed was guilty. Willie's still covering the night police beat with its DDGBs and dirt naps, still avoiding the hawk that periodically swopps down to pluck away a few more of his colleagues in a floundering business. He still drinks too much, smokes too much. The only thing that keeps him employed: He's a damn fine reporter. Even his beleaguered bosses would concede that.

Willie finds himself neck-deep in a part of Richmond that a boy growing up in Oregon Hill could only experience through illicit midnight stories at the city's most exclusive swimming hole. The Quarry was where Alicia Parker Simpson identified Richard Slade as her rapist, 28 years ago. Then, five days after DNA evidence freed Slade from the prison system in which he had spent his adult life, Alicia Simpson is shot to death.

Hardly anyone doubts that Richard Slade did it. Who could blame him? But Willie has his doubts. When the full weight of the city's old money falls on him, trying to crush the story, he only becomes more determined to chase the things that always seems to get him in trouble - the truth. The fact that Richard Slade is his cousin, a link to his long-dead African-American father, only makes Willie more tenacious.

In the end, Willie will be drawn back to the Philadelphia Quarry, where it all started so long ago and in whose murky waters the truth lies.

About the Author
Howard Owen is a novelist and journalist living in Fredericksburg, Va. His 10th novel, "Oregon Hill," was published in July of 2012. Publishers Weekly, in the pre-publication review, calls it "a warm and witty crime novel," adding "the deft and surprising plot builds to a satisfying ending. Readers will hope that Willie will soon return in a sequel."

Struck by either an epiphany or a midlife crisis, Owen wrote his first novel, "Littlejohn," in 1990. The first draft took him about 100 days. At the time, Owen was sports editor of a daily newspaper. He is now business editor of The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg. He has never taken a sabbatical, adhering instead to a schedule that includes about an hour a day for writing or revising. He finds that it is possible to do great things with an hour a day, every day.

He is married to Karen Van Neste Owen, Viewpoints editor of the Free Lance-Star and his sweetheart of 42 years. He grew up near Fayetteville, N.C., on the edge of his grandfather's farm. He likes Paris, the Washington Redskins, snowy days when he doesn't have to drive to work, steamed crabs, Smithfield ham, North Carolina barbecue, bourbon and water, cold long-neck Miller High-Lifes on a hot summer day, other people covering Dylan songs, movies that surprise him and the company of good friends.

Praise For The Philadelphia Quarry
"A well-plotted mystery elevated above the norm by Owen’s mastery of character development and his creation of a compelling hero." - Booklist

"Owen is particularly good at character development and takes a familiar race and class struggle plot to a new level. His second entry featuring crime reporter Willie Black (after the Hammett Prize finalist Oregon Hill) is a stellar mystery deserving of a wide readership." --Library Journal, Starred Review

"Against a backdrop of advertising-suppressed investigative print journalism, Owen uses race and class, coupled with a Faulkner-ian family tragedy, to provide a powerful narrative engine. While the complex noir drama keeps the pages turning, the murderer and motivation complete the storyline perfectly. A quick-flowing crime drama that will have fans eager for Willie Black to right another injustice." --Kirkus

"A modern noir mystery with convincing characters, evocative locations, and a wonderful feel for the changing world of news, ,The Philadelphia Quarry offers a plot that's neither overly complex nor too simple, while exploring the relationships of parents and children through families rich and poor, black and white, and in-between." --Café Libre