Redlined: A Novel of Boston is set in 1974 and focuses on the Jamaica Plain section of town. This area has been redlined by banks, due to the housing market's crash, which sets the stage for racial steering and blockbusting, prompting the transition from a healthy neighborhood to a slum. Abandoned buildings to proliferate as crime rises.
When a building is burned and the body of a community activist is uncovered, fellow community organizer and Marine combat veteran Jedidiah Flynt and assistant Alexis Jordan become determined to stop the destruction of the neighborhood. They assume the role of amateur investigators who probe the arson and death with a focus and determination reflective of their abilities.
All too soon, however, adversity strikes even closer to home. Jedediah and Alexis face their own prejudices, pasts, and the initial discomfort of a forthright, sexual woman confronting a former Marine already uncomfortable with the power women have assumed in society and the workplace. These experiences capture the first phase in the blossoming women's movement that was to change many of these roles.
This interpersonal interplay of emotions sets the stage for a dual confrontation as the unlikely team forays into unfamiliar territory both personally and politically.
At first, Redlined reads with the setup and motivation of a murder mystery. Readers are in for a bigger treat, however, because Richard W. Wise incorporates real, contemporary social issues and tensions into this story, along with a special dynamic between the investigators, which elevates his read beyond a typical whodunit.
From Jedediah's ability to face Alex's charge that he is a "consummate opportunist' whose worldview affects his life choices and taints his perspective to their shared zeal and campaign, the politics which plays dirty tricks behind the scenes in Boston affairs, and gang members (a coalition of actors; real estate agents, developers, crime syndicate, who make money from the destruction of an urban neighborhood) who play a key part in community choices and makeup, Richard W. Wise tailors the kind of story that is steeped as much in Boston's unique cultural and social makeup as it is in community struggles to change it.
While investigative mystery readers will be the likely audience of Redlined, the story will especially appeal to women who like their characters strong and purposeful. Another audience will be readers familiar with Boston's cultural milieu, who will find Redlined an absorbing series of conundrums that lead ever deeper into the heart of a community's manipulations, politics, and social interactions. Highly recommended.
–D. Donovan, Sr. Reviewer, Midwest Book Review