Outrageously entertaining… A total page-turner.
Devious power plays, corrupt bureaucratic system, and hidden alliances set readers’ pulse racing in Charns’s hard-edged, smart satiric latest featuring the endearing pair of law partners Zenko and Star. It’s just another day for the five months pregnant Malinda Queen, a Black health care professional, until her path crosses with three white members of the Durham CATT drug unit who are in the area after receiving a call about open-air drug sale. Without warning, Malinda finds herself manhandled and dragged to jail as her five-month-old fetus dies in her womb from excessive force trauma. The case lands on Gwaiazada and Luczek’s desk, the only firm in the town that takes on cases of police brutality, led by the gutsy pair of Tadeuz Rzenkowski “Zenko” Luczek and Star, katazina Gold Hwiazda. With the whole Durham city police and administration hand in gloves, getting justice for Malinda is not that easy for Zenko and Star. Charns fills this gritty, raw legal thriller with palpable tension, high-stakes drama, individual struggles, old secrets, and longing of love. Zenko and Star’s endearing bond, with the duo finally able to build a relationship of trust and co-dependence after their high-school breakup is addictive, keeping the reader turning pages fast. While Star’s stubbornness keeps them apart (romantically) and family circumstances challenge their relationship, Zenko’s unwavering romantic devotion and relentless longing for Star is enough to keep readers hopeful for the pair’s union in the upcoming books. Zenko and Star’s tender bond with Malinda is beyond the realms of an average attorney-client relationship and is both honest and wholly genuine. There are lessons about choices, control, and priorities, and readers will enjoy seeing Malinda finally coming to terms with her grief as her scars and fears lead her to strength and courage. Charns beautifully conveys Zenko’s struggle as long-hidden secrets of his family’s past invades his present. The sections with the first-person narrative from Mark J. Luczek, Zenko’s grandfather make for the case where the reader can draw their own interpretation about the former’s actual guilt. Inspired by a true story of police brutality and corruption in the Bull City, this skillfully crafted story is a treat for lovers of literary fiction. By turns lighthearted and horrific, the novel ensnares the reader from the first page and wouldn’t let go until they have read the whole book.
The Black Madonna
By Alex Charns
Bull City Law Publishing
Pub date December 9, 2020
Price $1.00 (USD) Kindle edition, $6.00 Paperback