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* After by Marita Golden Doubleday, May 2006 $23.95, ISBN 0-385-51222-8

What happens behind the scenes after a black policeman mistakenly shoots a young black man? What happens with his private life, with his family and his friends? What happens to his conscience, his shame and his moral beliefs?

Only Golden--no stranger to tackling tough issues in fiction--can dissect the essential questions of what transforms a man of power and arrogance into one plagued by bottomless shame and self-pity. Employing her skill at characterization and depiction of circumstances, she portrays Carson Blake, an experienced cop who pulls over a young man from a wealthy family for a minor traffic offense--a situation that escalates into an argument that leaves the youth dead from a police bullet. The disgraced officer replays that horrible night repeatedly and his life slowly unravels.

The author skillfully zeroes in on every member of Blake's family, especially his beloved wife, Bunny, and his sexually conflicted son, Juwan. Blake tells his wife near the book's conclusion, "That's not a choice, Bunny. It's in my life; it's in our life. Do you think I ever forget I killed a man? I was sentenced that night. The grand jury, the internal investigation--that was all legalities. My punishment started in that mall parking lot."

Ultimately, this highly entertaining novel, After, is about revelation, redemption and renewal. Golden still believes in the strength of marital love, parental love and forgiveness, a gift that comes with complications. It's always a pleasure to read such complex material when handled by a seasoned pro who doesn't crudely manipulate the plot or characters but rather just lets the story tell itself.

--Reviewed by Robert Fleming Robert Fleming, a contributing editor of BIBR, is the author of Havoc After Dark: Tales of Terror (Dafina Books, 2004) and Fever in the Blood (Kensington Publishing Corp., May 2006).
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Author:Fleming, Robert
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Jul 1, 2006
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