Time’s Undoing

Dutton. Feb. 2023. 384p. ISBN 9780593471821. $28. F
Head’s (Warn Me When It’s Time) latest is narrated by two protagonists and encompasses 100 years of racial unrest in Birmingham, AL. In 1929, Robert Lee Harrington is a Black carpenter relocating to Birmingham with his wife and young daughter. In 2019, Meghan McKenzie is a Black journalist working for the Detroit Free Press and researching her family’s history in her free time. She has grown up hearing the tragic account of her great-grandfather’s suspicious death. When the Black Lives Matter movement spurs Meghan to travel to Birmingham to conduct research, she thrills to the prospect of finally solving her family mystery as well. As the story jumps between Meghan’s attempts to coerce threads of information from uncooperative officials and Robert’s struggles to keep his family safe in Jim Crow–era Alabama, the narratives begin to intersect. As a Black man in the segregated South, Robert is is walking a precarious line, but Meghan’s ability to uncover deep secrets also puts her in danger. While Head’s novel deals with the grimmer side of human nature, it also depicts the power of friends and community.
VERDICT Head is the author of the “Charlie Mack Motown” mystery series featuring a Black, female, queer PI. Her new novel, based on true events, will please the author’s fans and readers who enjoy novels with strong women protagonists.
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