BOOK REVIEW: The Gone Dead by Chanelle Benz

Publication Date: March24, 2020
Format: paperback
Genre:  African-American Fiction 

Publisher: Ecco
304  pages
Buy:  Paperback | Audiobook 


Billie James' inheritance isn't much: a little money and a shack in the Mississippi Delta. The house once belonged to her father, a renowned black poet who died unexpectedly when Billie was four years old. Though Billie was there when the accident happened, she has no memory of that day—and she hasn't been back to the South since.

 Thirty years later, Billie returns but her father's home is unnervingly secluded: her only neighbors are the McGees, the family whose history has been entangled with hers since the days of slavery. As Billie encounters the locals, she hears a strange rumor: that she herself went missing on the day her father died. As the mystery intensifies, she finds out that this forgotten piece of her past could put her in danger.


Billie James father died when she was four under mysterious circumstances.  Now Billie James is an adult and has just inherited a small cottage in Mississippi from her grandmother.  Back in Mississippi for the first time since her fathers death Billie James is determined to discover what happened to him and why she was reported missing after he was found dead. Digging up dirt in Mississippi where Jim Crow is still alive and well is not easy and her inquiries are making the wrong people anxious.  

This debut book is well written and atmospheric.  I swear you needed a fan to keep the bugs at bay and get yourself a bit of cool air.  Benz creates great tension as the story slowly unfolds. Why was the renown poet killed, or was it an accident as some would like her to believe but Billie James knows something isn't right. Billie James wants justice, but what is justice and can a black person get justice in Mississippi? I guess that depends on what you expect.  

Very well done with great insight on racial injustice, petty grudges and small towns that like their secrets. 

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