#Book Review: Redlined

Click on image to purchase from Amazon.

Richard W. Wise’s Redlined: A Novel of Boston is a suspenseful, well-structured mystery thriller by a writer well-versed in the genre. I was surprised at how quickly I read it: I just had to keep turning to the next page to find out what happened next! 

In the opening scene, a young woman, Sandy Morgan, keeps watch over a building in a declining urban neighborhood that has been experiencing a rash of arson fires. She has been given this seemingly routine assignment by Jedediah Flynt, a local community organizer determined to save the neighborhood for the sake of the people living there. This scene depicting the grunt-work of community organizing then quickly shifts to the risks associated with it. 

Sandy’s fate provides the driving force for Jedediah to uncover the source of the arsons and to what end they are being carried out. As the events in the novel unfold, the conspiracy is revealed to be Byzantine and the ends nefarious.

Redlined was inspired by the redlining of the Jamaica Plain neighborhood in Boston in the mid-1970s. Prior to picking up the book, I had never heard of the “redlining” of a declining urban neighborhood by banking institutions. The book incorporates the details of that particular business practice and the devastating effect it had on the lives of ordinary working people. Outside of its role in the plot, I found this historical information interesting in its own right and enjoyed learning about it. 

Wise’s experience as a community organizer in Massachusetts and Rhode Island in the 1970s is very much in evidence and lends the novel authenticity. (There’s a great conversation between the Jedediah and the recent Harvard graduate he hired as a researcher about the difference between strategies and tactics to accomplish social change–Byzantine in their own right!) 

I also appreciated how well the settings are drawn, both exterior descriptions of Boston streets and buildings, as well as interior descriptions. I know that wainscoting and worn linoleum. 

The highlight of Redlined for me was the role that the Roman Catholic Church plays in the novel. It suits the Boston setting, as well as the nature of the conspiracy at the center of the arsons, with echos of scandalous headlines and shades of characters from The Canterbury Tales. Monsignor Benedetti is a prelate who bears watching.

I’d highly recommend Redlined to aficionados of the mystery thriller genre, as well as readers with an interest in the history of Boston. A very entertaining read!

Jamaica Plain Triple Deckers
Doyle’s Bar in Jamaica Plain, Featured in Redlined

29 thoughts on “#Book Review: Redlined

  1. You have a marvelous way of reviewing book, Liz. And you find treasures! This books sounds like it provides the drama as well as a historical perspective. I’ve already found it on Kindle. Thank you so much for the intro.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A mystery thriller with a social conscience and attention to accuracy—right up my alley. Thanks for putting us onto it, Liz; I plan to buy it with the Christmas gift card I’m sure to receive (right, family?). Happy Holidays, and I look forward to more of your great posts in 2020.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What an excellent description of the book, Liz. I had no idea Jamaica Plain had been redlined in the 70’s. For a Boston history buff and lover of thriller novels, this sounds like the perfect book. Thank you for this review. I love the photos, especially the triple deckers.

    Liked by 1 person

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