Without Prejudice, By Andrew Rosenheim

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The Independent Culture

Homecoming is a recurring theme in Andrew Rosenheim's fiction. His latest thriller, a heartfelt story of race and mixed motives, is set in Hyde Park on Chicago's South Side: now best known as President Obama's former neighbourhood.

The novel opens with a late-night call. Back in town after a posting abroad, publisher Robert Danziger is surprised to hear from his old black classmate, Duval Morgan. As Duval has just served a 25-year sentence for the rape of a young nurse, Robert has misgivings about welcoming him back into his life and his smart lakeside home.Walking the line between a murder mystery and a psychological drama, Rosenheim contrasts Robert's comfortable world – weekends at the beach, office flings – with Duval's hand-to-mouth existence on the other side of town.

The tension grows as Robert's wife, a liberal lawyer, takes it upon herself to clear Duval's name. For crime aficionados the novel's denouement will be as obvious as the Sears Tower on a clear day. For those of us happy to be spoon-fed, Rosenheim successfully stirs up the emotions as Robert finds himself torn between old loyalties and knee-jerk distrust.

Less sentimental here than in some of his previous books, Rosenheim paints a picture of a city that, for all its illustrious connections, is still a place divided. An intelligent potboiler, Without Prejudice that confronts issues that go beyond black and white.

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