The Secret of Magic (Hardcover)
Through a careful blend of mystery and magic, Mississippi author Deborah Johnson’s new book tells the story of reaction to a hate crime in the rural South. A decorated black soldier is murdered on the last leg of his trip home from World War II to Mississippi, sparking an investigation involving both his small-town community and the NAACP under Thurgood Marshall. When Marshall’s assistant, Regina, takes a personal interest in the case, she makes her way to the Deep South to try and make sense of the crime. From there, the novel becomes incredibly fast-paced. You won’t be able to stop until you’ve figured out all of the connections and secrets, and all the different meanings of magic.— Mary Marge
February 2014 Indie Next List
“A young lawyer who is sent by Thurgood Marshall to Mississippi in 1946 to investigate the murder of a black soldier encounters a world both surreal and mysterious. Regina Robichard learns that the Jim Crow South is a world unto itself, but she also learns the power of narrative and story as she meets a reclusive author who produced the book that influenced her childhood. This is a novel of subtlety, incisive portraits, and a brilliant evocation of a time and place on the cusp of momentous change.”
— Bill Cusumano, Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI
In 1946, a young female attorney from New York City attempts the impossible: attaining justice for a black man in the Deep South.
Regina Robichard works for Thurgood Marshall, who receives an unusual letter asking the NAACP to investigate the murder of a returning black war hero. It is signed by M. P. Calhoun, the most reclusive author in the country.
As a child, Regina was captivated by Calhoun's "The Secret of Magic," a novel in which white and black children played together in a magical forest.
Once down in Mississippi, Regina finds that nothing in the South is as it seems. She must navigate the muddy waters of racism, relationships, and her own tragic past."The Secret of Magic" brilliantly explores the power of stories and those who tell them.
About the Author
Deborah Johnson now lives and works in Columbus, Mississippi, after residing for many years in Italy.
"You can almost hear the rustle of Spanish moss and the clink of ice cubes in glasses of sweet tea in Johnson's novel, which captures the duality of the Jim Crow South. When a black war hero is murdered in Revere, MS, the NAACP sends Regina Robichard to investigate. As Regina navigates Revere with both horror and wonder, Johnson interweaves her story with a novel by a local matriarch, steeping the reader in town mythology. … [a] rich portrayal of Revere and its inhabitants." —Entertainment Weekly, A-
"Johnson offers a completely engaging southern gothic with unforgettable characters..." —Booklist
“A passionate, nuanced drama about Southern race relations . . .provocative.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“I found this story about race, The South, our country, part history, part mystery—never disappointing. Like The South she tragically portrays, The Secret of Magic is a layered tale of the best and worst of our history, beautifully wrought by a master storyteller.” —Robert Hicks, New York Times–bestselling author of Widow of the South and A Separate Country “The secret (and magic) in The Secret of Magic is in Deborah Johnson’s powerful writing, creating character and story that will linger long after the reading.” —Terry Kay, author of To Dance with the White Dog and The Book of Marie “Johnson’s story brings authentic history to light, yet suggests a seed of reconciliation. Fantastic!” —Augusta Trobaugh, author of Sophie and the Rising Sun and The Tea-Olive Bird Watching Society