Zane Presents: Little White Lies-Cole Riley

Zane Presents: Little White Lies
Cole Riley
Strebor Books/Simon and Schuster, Nov 26 2013, $15.00
ISBN: 9781593095185

In Brooklyn, seventeen year old African-American Melvin is the star of his high school basketball team. He knows his future is in hoops so he avoids the neighborhood illicit action though the pressure on his succeeding is immense. However, after a particular bad stretch with a terrible court performance, his father’s condemnation and his girlfriend using him, depressed Melvin, ignoring his gut telling him not to go, attends a party.

At the party Melvin awakens from being drugged only to find blood all over him and the police accusing him of leading a gang raping of two white girls. Though he knows he did not commit the heinous assault, the police him keep hungry, frightened and depressed while his public defender fails him until Melvin cracks and confesses to the delight of the media and politician Representative Crudele whose daughter was one of the victims. In prison with no hope of getting out, Melvin tries suicide, but survives. As years pass with Melvin still behind bars, Rose the reporter looks into the case and finds major holes.

With a nod to Morris’ The Thin Blue Line, Cole Riley condemns American justice being color blind especially towards urban poor African-Americans. The tense storyline is at its best when Melvin as a victim loses when he goes up against the media-government complex and when the plot focuses on his hopeless feelings while incarcerated. Though the ending seems unlikely, readers will appreciate this profound look at being an impoverish Black facing a system that assumes his race and social class classify him with a presumption of guilt who (without assets) must prove his innocence beyond a reasonable doubt.

Harriet Klausner

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