| | Barrett Raines
| || A Rock and a Hard Place (1999)|
From Publishers Weekly
Barrett Raines, the only black detective on an all-white police force in Deacon Beach, Fla., is forced to choose between his duty to society and his loyalty to his family in this unpolished yet promising debut. Barrett's brother Delton has always been a thorn in his side. Despite Barrett's stellar record, Delton's reputation for womanizing and drinking has kept his sibling from getting the respect he's long deserved in his racist hometown. Yet when Delton is accused of murdering a beautiful, popular white restaurant owner in a fit of passion, the only person between him and a lynching is Barrett. The cop arrests his brotherAthe evidence against Delton is powerful, if circumstantialAand then sets out to unravel the truth, though his digging is complicated by his mistrust of his self-serving sibling. Barrett soon discovers that the killing may be tied to arms dealers based in Deacon Beach. Wimberly's prose is spare and his dialogue catchy. The novel contains excess exposition that often interrupts momentum, however. In addition, a subplot involving Barrett's wife and two sons drags on the narrative, and some of the switches in point of view can be confusing. In short, the book reads like a novel in search of a final draft. Wimberly's launch may not be for readers looking for sophisticated intrigue and complex plotting, but its successful depiction of small-town corruption should appeal to those with a fondness for the pulpy side of the tracks. (July)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
| || Dead Mans Bay (2000)|
From Publishers Weekly
Barrett ("Bear") Raines is a singular presence in Florida law enforcement, one of the very few African-American detectives assigned to an elite FBI team that investigates white-collar and violent crime. But when his beautiful wife and twin sons leave him, Barrett flounders at work, alienating partner Cricket Bonet and infuriating Capt. Henry Altmiller, who confiscates Barrett's gun and banishes him to a desk. It seems that Barrett will languish in cop purgatory forever, until the mutilated body of fisherman Miles Beynon is discovered, and Altmiller needs someone to track down Brandon Ogilvie, Beynon's former partner in a drug-related armored-car heist. So Barrett and Bonet set off for Dead Man's Bay, "a Florida that doesn't have anything to do with Disney World," ruled by omniscient Irishwoman Esther Buchanan and her sexy mulatto daughter, Megan. Esther and the other rough-hewn island natives profess ignorance of Beynon and Ogilvie, until a disgruntled fisherman reveals that Beynon's regular visits coincided with the appearance of a suspicious big cruiser in Dead Man's Bay. Following Barrett's debut in A Rock and A Hard Place, Wimberley develops his hero into a notable character, by turns self-deluded and shrewd. But much of the stock supporting cast (a Bond-era Slavic assassin, an island girl parading in tank top and cutoffs, a bigoted white sheriff) behave predictably, in a steamy island setting that merely seems reheated. (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
| || Strawman's Hammock (2001)|
*Starred Review* Barrett Raines, a detective with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, stationed in the state's northern gulf region, is offered an opportunity to run for Lafayette County sheriff against Lou Sessions. Backing Raines is Linton Loyd, a powerful businessman in the county and Sessions' enemy. Then Loyd's son, Gary, becomes a suspect in the death of a Hispanic migrant female who was shackled and eaten by a mad dog in a swamp called Strawman's Hammock. The likelihood of Raines being the first black man to run for office in his county is diminished when he finds himself caught between the sheriff and the Loyd family. Wimberley combines a vividly realized setting and compelling procedural detail with a sensitive and thought-provoking treatment of racial and social issues (the latter focusing on mistreated migrant workers employed to rake straw). In addition, the pacing is sharp, and the suspense builds dramatically (the book races to minor climaxes that fool the reader into thinking the story has come to a premature end). This third entry in the Barrett Raines series deserves to be the breakthrough book for Wimberley. Highly recommended for all lovers of mainstream hard-boiled mysteries. Gary Niebuhr
| || Pepperfish Keys (2007)|
*Starred Review* The investigation into Senator Baxter Stanton's money laundering on behalf of local drug kingpin Eddy DeLeon ends badly for Florida state cop Barrett Raines, who becomes the Judas goat when a judge dismisses the case for lack of credible evidence. Then, when Beth Ann, the senator's daughter, is murdered, Raines improbably catches the case and finds an unexpected ally in television reporter Sharon Fowler, Raines' most virulent critic when he investigated the senator. The fourth "Bear" Raines case ranges from Florida to Los Angeles, and its melodious prose brings the same sense of paradise lost to northwest Florida that James Lee Burke evokes in his Louisiana-set Dave Robicheaux novels. Raines is indeed a bear, both in carriage and in ferocious determination. The senator is publicly grieving, but Raines senses an ambivalence about the senator's desire to see the killer apprehended. It seems the senator's alleged partner, Eddy DeLeon, is the most likely suspect, but if he's apprehended, his motive would link him to the senator and would thereby reconstitute the money-laundering charges. If not now, then very soon, Raines should join Robicheaux, John Sanford's Lucas Davenport, and Robert B. Parker's Spenser at the hard-boiled-hero head table. Lukowsky, Wes
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