Politics, race and class converge in this portrait of a black middle-class community in Houston, from the Civil Rights era to 1996. A set-piece trial is the climax to a tale of electoral corruption, systematic social inequalities, and murder investigations. Of particular relevance in the current USA election year – and as good a recommendation as any to read it now.
'Folks is scared, that's all, don't even know half of what they're scared of, it's just a feeling out there that the ground is unsteady, that Pleasantville, as most of us have known it, is in trouble …. And when folks get scared, they act out, make bad choices. We've made that mistake before, in our first fight with ProFerma. We'd been so stunned by the freeway coming through, our first big loss as a community, that when it looked like we couldn't keep ProFerma out, we just kind of gave in. Sam went in and negotiated a good number of jobs for the community, the best we thought we could do. But you see how that turned out in the end. Now folks is henny-pennying that the sky is falling, moving too fast out of fear. You still got plenty of clients,' she says assuredly, reaching out to pat his forearm to show her support. 'You'll do what you need to do with this trial, and then we'll finish up what we started on the other thing.'