The Ghost of Daniel Morris
by Aundrel Scarborough

"These were dark secrets that had to be exposed. And regardless of its antiquity, she felt it was the right thing to do."

Scarborough's novel is not exactly a ghost story, but it is about ghosts—long-buried secrets unearthed to harsh light. It's also an eerily relevant and timely tale for today's audience. The setting is 1993 in Alabama, where Valencia Robinson, daughter Zoria, and brilliant granddaughter MyAngel witness Daniel Morris's trial. The trial is a big deal, and the trio feels compelled to understand the reasons for these brutal murders for which Morris is convicted and executed. They scrutinize Morris's past and the violent history of Lanis County (whose acronym stands for something quite shocking). As they delve into the enigmatic crimes, Zoria begins to have vivid, haunting dreams as key facts bring them closer to uncomfortable truths.

The narrative then jumps to 2004 and the more compelling half of the novel. MyAngel is now twenty-three and a doctor in a blooming relationship with Atalanta. The pair come to Valencia's aid as she wrestles with the town over a lucrative land deal. This also happens to be the site of a former black township and is connected to Daniel Morris. They come together to further unravel the puzzle of Morris's life and crimes. Yet, unforeseen dangers threaten them, and MyAngel races to keep her family safe against shadowy and increasingly desperate Klansmen.

On the surface, Scarborough's narrative is primarily a social commentary of the nation's dark, unresolved issues with race relations. Some supernatural elements are thrown in, but surprisingly it's just your run-of-the-mill mystery. Nevertheless, Scarborough crafts a readable whodunit while unflinchingly addressing serious topics of societal ills. The ending does feel somewhat unfinished, but perhaps Scarborough is at work on a follow-up, which could be a welcome return featuring her strongest and best character, MyAngel. For now, this lean thriller introduces a new, genuine writer to the genre.

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