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Courtesy Wilkes Heritage Museum

About The Tannery

July 5, 1900, Wilkes County, North Carolina:  The body of the beautiful young daughter of local tannery owner Jakob Schumann is discovered on the north bank of the Yadkin River, brutally beaten, a skinning knife buried to the hilt in her chest.

Who killed Rachel Schumann?  And why?  Ambitious local prosecutor Vincent Taliaferro has arrested Virgil Wade, a local mixed-race boy whose skinning knife, bearing his initials, is surely the murder weapon.  Taliaferro is convinced the case is open and shut, but North Carolina Governor “Cotton Bob” Maxwell is not so sure.  Eager to resolve troubling inconsistencies in the evidence and determined to protect the boy from an imminent threat of vigilante “justice,” Maxwell sends his chief legal advisor, Ben Waterman, to Wilkes to investigate and ultimately to defend Virgil Wade at trial.  Ben’s investigation uncovers new and dramatic evidence that undermines the prosecutor’s case and points in an entirely different direction.  But can he prove it?  Can he convince an all-white, all male jury of Virgil’s innocence? 

The Tannery is historical fiction at its best, a murder mystery and legal thriller whose twists and turns will hold readers’ attention to the final page.  Meticulously researched, this page-turning debut novel transports readers to another time and place, the story unfolding in the turbulent world of Post-Reconstruction social, political, and racial conditions in North Carolina and throughout the South.  Reflecting issues prominent in today’s headlines, themes of Black voter suppression and intimidation, White Supremacy campaigns, the Wilmington Massacre of 1898, the violence and depravity of the Red Shirts and vigilante terrorism, and the rise of Jim Crow drive the narrative to its dramatic and surprising conclusion.

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.


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