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WiseGuy: The Author's Blog

Berkshire Eagle review of Redlined, A Novel of Boston

"Redlined" by Richard W. Wise, is a gripping suspense thriller that approaches its subject on the many levels of city politics, big money power brokers, banks, cultural institutions such as the Catholic Church in an old Boston neighborhood, and most importantly, what happens at the human level of family, friends and neighbors trying to protect their dreams. As an Alinsky-trained community organizer, the author is well-suited to tell this tale based on true events and well-researched details that make this novel exciting to read.
When "redlining," the betrayal of a community of homeowners and small business enterprises to make way for high-end development, threatens to overwhelm Boston's Jamaica Plain in 1974, community organizer and Marine combat veteran Jedediah Flynt steps in to turn the tide in favor of the people who live there; people who have been increasingly discouraged about their investments in a place they know of as home.
As the neighborhood housing market crashes and the quality of life deteriorates in Jamaica Plain, abandoned buildings are mysteriously being burned down as though in some systematic plan. Flynt, and his dedicated young organizer, Sandy Morgan, set up a watch on nearby empty buildings in an attempt to stop the destruction, or at least to determine what nefarious plot is afoot. But the investigation turns tragic when Sandy, in the midst of an arson in progress, is killed in the building fire. The incident mobilizes Flynt to swear he will find those responsible and avenge Morgan's death. It is with the inspired aid of another young woman, Alex Jordan, newly hired for research, that Flynt goes deep into a true-life conspiracy to ruin the lives of those who live in Jamaica Plain. The conspirators involved will stop at nothing, including murder, and Flynt will also need to rely on ex-Marine buddies to get the job done.
"Redlined" creates a wonderful look at the history of community organizing in all its early development. Much of the suspense in the first chapters of the novel outline the strategies and tactics meant to preserve the rights and lifetime investments of homeowners and businesses. They are all unwittingly pit against an elaborate web of corruption involving the greed, ambition and indifference of politicians, bureaucrats, elitist bankers, high ranking Catholic clergy, well-heeled grifters and the Chinese Triad. But Flynt and other lead organizers use the law, the solidarity of the people to act together, and the news media to expose the truth. Hope and social justice among the entire neighborhood will not be crushed.
But with every new accomplishment, every new insight, the forces of evil become increasingly aware they have underestimated the talents of Flynt and Jordan. In one move after another, including some daring espionage, Flynt gets closer and closer to who killed Sandy. Before their huge investments and reputations are damaged any further, the forces of evil narrow their sights on the problem and the showdown must come. Much like a chess game where the player who knows in advance what move to make next, "Redlined" maintains an edge of realism that will keep you guessing until the very end, and wondering with insider savvy, about the world at large.
Richard W. Wise is the author of two previous books, bestseller "Secrets of the Gem Trade: The Connoisseur's Guide to Precious Gemstones" (2003 with a second edition published in 2016) and "The French Blue," a historical novel (2010) and winner of a 2011 International Book Award in Historical Fiction.

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