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In the still-segregated town of West Mills, North Carolina in 1976, enigmatic siblings Marian, Marva, and Lazarus Harmon are found shot to death in their home. The people of West Mills – on both sides of the canal that serves as the town's color line – become swept up in gossip and accusations that have them taking a deeper look at their neighbors and loved ones. The crime is the first reported murder in the area in decades, but the white authorities don't seem to have any interest in solving the case. As the case continues to go unsolved, questions swirl around the town: Why were the Harmons murdered? Was it about drugs, money or a romantic dispute? And most importantly, who killed them?
Ms. Jo Wright has just moved back to West Mills from New York City to retire and marry a childhood sweetheart, Olympus “Lymp” Seymore. When she discovers that the murder victims are Lymp's half-siblings, and that Lymp is one of West Mills' leading culprits, she sets out on a transformative mission to prove his innocence. As Jo begins to investigate those who might know the most about the Harmons' deaths, she starts to discover darker secrets than she'd ever imagined, and a pattern of cover-ups of racism, homophobia, and medical misuse that could upend the reputations of many. With Decent People, Winslow has written another novel with the makings of a classic, crafting a remarkable story that covers difficult themes of shame, race, and money with compassion, insight, and grace, and making the community of West Mills come alive from the first page.
De’Shawn Charles Winslow’s first novel, In West Mills, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Lambda Literary Award, Publishing Triangle Award, and Willie Morris Award for Southern Writing. He has been featured as a “Writer to Watch” in The New York Times and one of the “Black Male Writers of Our Time” in T, The New York Times Style Magazine. He was born and raised in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, graduated from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and now lives in Atlanta, GA.
Jonathan Parks-Ramage is a Los Angeles based novelist, screenwriter and journalist. His critically acclaimed debut novel, YES, DADDY, was named as one of the best queer books of 2021 by Entertainment Weekly, NBC News, The Advocate, Bustle, Lambda Literary, Goodreads, and more. The book is currently being adapted for television. His writing has been widely published in such outlets as VICE, Slate, OUT Magazine, W Magazine, Lit Hub, Atlas Obscura, Elle, Electric Literature and more. He is also an alumnus of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.