Holy City

A book by Henry Wise

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 Holy City  Release Date: June 4, 2024

Holy City

“ Holy City is an amazing piece of work. A Southern novel that examines the pathos and ethos of small-town life and the weight of both grief and hatred. Love it.”—S.A. Cosby

No one innocent. No one free. Nothing sacred. Holy City is the captivating debut from Henry Wise about a deputy sheriff who must work alongside an unpredictable private detective after he finds himself on the outs from his police department over his unwillingness to look the other way when an innocent man is arrested for murder.

After a decade of exile precipitated by the tragic death of his mother, Will Seems returns home from Richmond to rural Southern Virginia, taking a job as deputy sheriff in a landscape given way to crime and defeat. Impoverished and abandoned, this remote land of tobacco plantations, razed forests, and boarded-up homes seems stuck in the past in a state that is trying to forget its complex history and move on.

Will’s efforts to go about his life are wrecked when a mysterious, brutal homicide claims the life of an old friend, Tom Janders, forcing Will to face the true impetus for his not to honor his mother’s memory, but to pay a debt to a Black friend who, in an act of selfless courage years ago, protected Will and suffered permanent disfigurement for it.

Meanwhile, a man Will knows to be innocent is arrested for Tom’s murder, and despite Will’s pleas, his boss seems all too content wrap up the case and move on. Will must weigh his personal guilt against his public duty when the local Black community hires Bennico Watts, an unpredictable private detective from Richmond, to help him find the real killer. It would seem an ideal pairing—she has experience, along with plenty of sand, and Will is privy to the details of the case—but it doesn’t take long for either to realize they much prefer to operate alone.

Bennico and Will clash as they each defend their untraditional ways on a wild ride that wends deep into the Snakefoot, an underworld wilderness that for hundreds of years has functioned as a hideout for outcasts—the forgotten and neglected and abused—leaving us enmeshed in the tangled history of a region and its people that leaves no one innocent, no one free, nothing sacred.

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