Run, do not walk, to your nearest bookstore and buy this novel. All right, I've got that out of my system… With JACKSON PARK (set in 1968 Chicago), Charlotte Carter introduces readers to a new and immediately likeable heroine, Cassandra Lisle, who grabs you in the prologue and instantly makes you her friend. Her concerns become your concerns, especially when this idealistic young student decides to champion the cause of a poor, sometimes hooker from her old neighborhood, allegedly abducted by the police and never seen again.
In her effort to save Lavelle Jackson, Cass finds herself at war with the establishment, her fellow students, her family and, ultimately, with her identity as a middle-class black woman. Carter weaves a gripping plot with deft characterization and sparkling prose.
The only unsatisfying moment comes at the end, when the reader has to say goodbye to Cass. But since this is the first novel in a new mystery series, readers will be able reconnect with Cass soon enough. (Aug., 240 pp., $12.95)