Murder on Second Street by Rebekah L. Pierce

Murder on Second Street by Rebekah L. Pierce
The Jackson Ward Murders
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (243 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

It’s 1929 and a local Negro neighborhood called Jackson Ward in Richmond, Virginia is booming. In fact, it’s called “The Black Wall Street of America” by economists of the day. Things are booming financially and socially for the Negro community, but then a series of what appears to be random murders of poor working class Negro women begins to happen and everyone is on edge, especially the Negro business owners. The Ward is a very tight community – strangers cannot move freely about in this segregated town. They hire haunted World War I veteran and alcoholic Sy Sanford to catch the cold-blooded murderer, but murder is not the only thing threatening to destroy “The Black Wall Street of America.” The real Wall Street is about to come tumbling down and plunge Jackson Ward and its infamous 2nd Street into a debilitative financial and social state it may never recover from.

Sy Sanford races against the clock to discover the connection between a grisly serial killer and the woman the murderer is stalking.

1929, the heart of Jackson Ward, the booming Negro neighborhood known as The Black Wall Street of America, young girls are being found brutally raped and murdered. The local police doesn’t seem to take the dead bodies as a priority, but local businesses find that the news of a murderer on the lose could be bad for their business. The prestigious and wealthy business women and men rally together to hire local former World War I Army Captain, Sy Sanford to investigate the serial murders of young working woman that seem to be targeted. Sy is fighting his own demons. Returning to the states after fighting for his country he returns only to be treated less than what he is. Haunted by images of his abusive father the bottle is Sy’s only relief to rid his mind from the demons that chase him.

Sy agrees to take on this case, it’s not like his security business has any other pertinent cases in the works. At first I was mad with Sy for not getting it together, his drinking was not under control. The night he was hired he ended up in a drunken supper. I like how the author unfolded Sy’s story. The more I got to know him the more I understood his struggle. I wanted him to solve the case, get recognition and live happily ever after. Reality check- the Jackson Ward is not a perfect world so Sy didn’t get that perfect ending….at least not the perfect ending that I wanted for him.

Sy hired Lena Johnson as his secretary. Lena’s husband is a former boxer, turned barber, who is an abusive cheat. Sy has a love for Lena, but never acts on his feelings out of respect for Lena and her marriage. I so wanted Lena and Sy to end up together, for them to have the love and happiness that they both seek. I can’t give any spoilers so that’s all I have to say on this.

The author did a wonderful job of building the characters description and personalities. I grew to know the primary characters, the young ladies that were briefly mention and even the murderer. To show how attached I was to the characters I was hurt and near tears that the story didn’t play out like my heart wanted it to. Sniff-sniff. I wanted the killer to be caught sooner. I had one of those feelings you get when you are watching a movie, you know the worst is about to happen but you are hoping for a better outcome. Yeah, this book gave me that feeling. After a vocal No! No! I put the book down until I gathered my composure.

Through this author’s eyes, a terrifying patch of history comes to vivid life, a story told with such liveliness and intenseness the description is so interesting and exciting that I was emotionally stirred. The pacing and tension is masterfully placed particularly how the flashes of the World War I scenes happen during specific times with Sy as he investigate the gruesome murder scenes.

The visual setting of the Jackson Ward is so picturesque that I could actually visualize the stores along the street. The author has a talent and gift to telling a satisfying story.

The novel is rich in authentic detail, along with style and tone. The author transforms the novel into a stunning and wide reaching novel that will evoke all emotions from it’s reader. The historical aspect of the book sets it apart from many typical reads, both the timeline and place adds to the uniqueness of the story. I am glad that I had the pleasure of reading this book. I loved the author’s writing style, the plot and how it all worked in together with actually historical events. There were a number of typos and copy editing misses, but over all it was a capturing read.

This was more than just a good read, it was an experience. Kudos to the author for a job well done.


  1. Thank you so much for your lovely review. I am humbled. However, I deeply apologize for the typos in your copy. Please note that they have been corrected in the e-book and print copies that are now available. Again, thank you, thank you, thank you.

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