Tuesday, June 25, 2013


The Philadelphia Quarry is Howard Owen's second Willie Black mystery.  I must go back and read the first one because I love Willie despite myself.  He chain smokes unfiltered cigarettes, drinks way too much, cusses like an old-time sailor, and other assorted sins, i.e. has neglected his only child until she is a grown woman and now he's trying to make it up to her.  And yet you just have to like this guy.  For all his faults, his heart is in the right place and he is (miracle of miracles) a true journalist, a man who actually tries as hard as he can to write the truth regardless of whose toes he steps on.

That last fact is what gets him in trouble in this story.  DNA has freed a black man, Richard Slade, who served 28 years for the rape of a teenage girl from a wealthy white family.  She had identified him, but he didn't do it.  Then a few days after his release, the woman who had been raped is murdered.  Of course everyone believes Slade killed her.  Who else had a better motive?  As Black investigates the story he first believes Slade did it, but comes to see that he might be innocent.

This novel has an excellent plot, some wonderful characters who are either endearing (like Black) or craven cowards, poor folks or snobbish rich people.  Love 'em all.  Willie Black's family will make you laugh.  His mother, for instance, is a pot smoker and alcoholic, but when Black starts to light a cigarette in her living room she makes him go outside to smoke.  Meanwhile, she and a guy who lives with them are sitting on the couch sharing an ashtray and a toke.  Scenes like this just made my day.

If you like offbeat characters, a good story, and a hero who thumbs his nose at pompous bosses, and gets away with it, you must read The Philadelphia Quarry.  

Source:  LibraryThing win.


  1. Sounds like a great book! Willie's mom sounds like a hoot!

  2. I love off beat, quirky characters -- sounds worth reading Barbara.