Dying Embers by Glenn Trust is an atmospheric novel set against the backdrop of the struggle for racial equality. The action plays out in a small, rural community in Georgia during the late 1960s, as both blacks and whites deal with the realities of desegregation. Trust cleverly uses a variety of characters to show how every sector of society was affected by the changes, which were to rip asunder life as, up until then, the community had always know it.
The novel begins as a warm tale of friendship between four teenage boys but everything changes as the local school prepares to put the desegregation laws into practise. As white racists spew hatred, events spiral out of control and a black youth is murdered. From the very outset, the reader is aware of tension bubbling beneath the surface of the pages as Trust uses the overbearing summer heat to foreshadow the danger that is just around the corner.
It is a novel that carries a very important message, about both history and human nature and, it is Trust's skill in characterisation that allows the reader to actually feel the complexities of the situation. The teenage boys, whose innocence is poisoned by the behaviour of the adults around them. Carl Pell, an old black farmer, who has created a successful business against all the odds and who hasn't allowed the injustices and cruelties he's faced to define him. Louis Spannel, the white store owner, who does the right thing despite half wishing he could just look the other way. Darcy Rhodes, the sheriff, who fights tirelessly for justice for the murdered youth.
I can't recommend this novel highly enough, it has both heart and social relevance and I guarantee you won't be able to put it down.