Praise for The Tannery
Riveting . . . . In his debut novel, Michael Almond has given us a page-turner. Far more than a legal thriller, though it is that, The Tannery is historical fiction at its finest - a story set near the turn of the 20th Century in North Carolina. The state, still reeling from defeat in the Civil War, is torn by the violent politics of race, all of which Almond weaves through the mystery of a murder. Some of this tale will sound disturbingly familiar to readers in the 21st Century, all the more reason to consider its lessons. History can come alive in a work of great fiction. This is one of those times.
- Frye Gaillard, civil rights historian, author of A Hard Rain: America in the 1960s
Michael Almond has produced a stunning, significant, page-turning masterpiece of historical fiction. Though The Tannery is Almond’s debut novel, the reader falls immediately under the spell of this consummate storyteller. Almond weaves the rich detail of the Post-Reconstruction South with delicious character development and gut-wrenching plot twists. The book chronicles lawyer Ben Waterman’s crusade in defense of Virgil Wade, a mixed-race boy accused of the brutal murder of a prominent young White woman in the turbulent politics and social conditions of North Carolina at the turn of the 20th Century. Though set in the past, this novel is a must-read for a country combatting the enduring racism and voter suppression of the present. The Faulkner quote on The Tannery’s first page resonates: ‘All of us labor in webs spun long before we were born …’
- Frederick Kempe, best-selling author of Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev and the World’s Most Dangerous Place, Pulitzer Prize-nominated Wall Street Journal editor and reporter, and Atlantic Council president and CEO
The Tannery is tough to put down because the storytelling is so compelling. While I know it is historical fiction, the book’s description of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the Carolinas reminds me so much of the oral histories I’ve heard from my own relatives of what the region was like back then. Everything from race relations, cultural nuances, and politicians to the food consumed was authentic. This book is timely, in that we can reflect on how far we have come today and see the tangible progress we have made. But it also glaringly reminds us that the issues of racism, voter suppression, and economic inequality are still with us, and indeed, to paraphrase a famous author…the past is not yet passed, it is still with us today.
- Harvey B. Gantt, former mayor of Charlotte, first African American student accepted by Clemson University, inspiration for the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture
Michael Almond’s The Tannery is a remarkably drawn and richly detailed whodunnit. A uniquely American tale of the quest for justice, this search takes place at the crossroads of a nation’s struggle for equal protection under the law. Full of beguiling and captivating characters, exciting plot twists and turns, The Tannery is a literary gem for lovers of mystery and historical fiction.
- Jeffrey Blount, author of The Emancipation of Evan Walls
With the heart of a storyteller and the mind of a historian, Michael Almond has written a passionate novel about murder, race, and justice (or lack thereof) in the early days of the Jim Crow South. This is a vexing tale, vivid and haunting. You’ll be transported far beyond your reading chair.
- Judy Goldman, author of Together: A Memoir of a Marriage and a Medical Mishap and the forthcoming memoir, Child
The Tannery will not disappoint you. Michael Almond has fleshed out a cast of thoroughly believable characters and placed them in the history of the Blue Ridge Mountains on a quest that will engage the reader's interest to the very last page.
- Bob Bamberg, Editor, The Alleghany News
For fans of historical fiction, The Tannery mixes solid research with powerful and suspenseful storytelling in this look back at early 20th century North Carolina and the Post-Reconstruction South. First-time author Michael Almond faithfully recreates a sense of time and place where memorable characters struggle with murder, bigotry, and injustice in the turbulent early days of Jim Crow.
- James Caughman, author of Addison Mizner: The Architect Whose Genius Defined Palm Beach
Michael Almond has created a fascinating and timely historical whodunit that evokes the era and ethos of Jim Crow North Carolina at the turn of the 20th Century as lawyer Ben Waterman confronts the scars of racism and white supremacy in Post-Reconstruction Wilkes County. Almond’s research is solid, and rich historical detail runs throughout this impressive debut novel.
- Dr. William Thompson, Emeritus Professor of History, Queens University
This fast-paced courtroom drama is laced with the truth of an early 1900’s past gone backward. Set against the political birth of North Carolina’s Jim Crow era, The Tannery will have readers fully engaged but shaking their heads at the twists and turns of history’s impact on justice in a small mountain community, wondering until the very end whether there is any hope for a sixteen-year-old Black boy on trial for murder and the young White lawyer who represents him.
- Landis Wade, trial lawyer, host of Charlotte Readers Podcast, and author of The Christmas Courtroom Trilogy.
In his debut novel, Michael Almond turns a penetrating and sympathetic eye to one of the darker, less-known chapters in North Carolina history. You’ll feel like you’re in the courtroom with young Virgil Wade as his attorney Ben Waterman fights for justice against seemingly impossible odds.
- Kim Wright, author of Last Ride to Graceland, winner of the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction
The Tannery has so many wonderful characters. Not just people and relationships, but also challenging dilemmas and little details of time and place that stay with you. Woven together, the story sweeps through so many questions about early Jim Crow North Carolina, but also about now. From time to time, I stopped reading to ponder today’s world and the challenges facing us. The Tannery is a rich and thoughtful journey. And a fun read too!
-Vincent LoVoi, publisher This Land Press and board member of Oxford American and Texas Observer
Michael A. Almond’s debut novel, The Tannery, pairs up perfectly with Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Both are historical novels set in the South during the Jim Crow era. Both deal with the impact of racial prejudice on the court system. Both include highly principled lawyers who fight for justice even though the odds are stacked against them. And both provide readers with insider depictions of life in small Southern communities. It might not seem fair to compare The Tannery to Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird since Lee’s novel is recognized as one of the most important novels in the history of Southern literature, but The Tannery stands up to the comparison. Michael has created a riveting novel that combines the excitement of a legal thriller with the complexities of a well-researched work of historical fiction. Michael’s depiction of North Carolina’s bigoted past is unflinching and disturbing, but his portrait of his native state is not entirely negative. His story has its bigots, but it also has its heroes. Read Full Review in Storied Charlotte.
- Mark I. West, Ph.D., Bonnie E. Cone Professor in Civic Engagement, Professor of English, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Order The Tannery
The Tannery was officially released on October 19 by Köehler Books. Order NOW through any of the links below! Sign up for more information and updates.