Thomas Zigal’s The White League

This is a terrific book about a crimes of the past haunting the present – and more than one crime. Paul Blanchard, the well-to-do owner of a coffee business in New Orleans, is approached by a bigot with political ambitions who asks Blanchard to find financial support for his campaign from the members of the White League, a secretive racist organization from the past. If Blanchard refuses, the politician will expose his responsibility for an event that landed his chidhood friend in prison. It’s daring to create a story around a main character is reluctant and flawed as Paul Blanchard, who isn’t an action hero but is more devoted to inaction and avoidance, but somehow Zigal pulls it off. This book has a wonderful sense of place, subtle character development, and wrenching ethical issues framed around true historical events. It’s bound to be on my “best of the year” list.

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