Grace, A Novel
By Susan Sherrell



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Summer 1972:  twenty-three-year-old UC student Leah DeMartino is working at a race track north of Berkeley.  She befriends a slightly older co-worker, beautiful Grace Neville. When Grace's body is found floating in San Francisco Bay, Leah's life takes an unsettling turn.  She comes into contact with fanatic but charismatic James Ferguson, head of Security for Oakland's Black Panther Party, and meets good-looking, unpredictable Ronnie Xavier Jones, recently back from Vietnam.  This story weaves together post-sixties Bay Area themes—the quest for human dignity on the part of African-Americans, the anger and rage of returning Vietnam vets who feel disrespected in their own country, the ambiguous role of the US government, and, above all, exciting new freedoms in love, sex and relationships.

Upcoming Events:

Friday,  August 20th, 4-6 PM.

Susan Sherrell will be reading from GRACE and signing copies of
her books at Yesterday's Muse, 32 West Main St, Webster, New York,  Come join us !

Recent Reviews:

Murder in Black and White
I just finished reading a juicy crime novel, Grace, set in the Bay Area in the summer of 1972. It's about the murder of the title character, a race track worker whose body is fished out of San Francisco Bay...

(read the rest of Jan Herman's review here)


Susan talked about her book on "Cover to Cover with Denny Smithson" on KPFA  on December 14th.  Miss it? You can Listen to the whole thing here.

Book Party Great Success.

For those that missed it, Susan and friends at her book party held in Oakland on November 7th.  Click the photo to enlarge.




Press Release:

     Workwomans Press of Seattle has just published the mystery novel GRACE by Susan Sherrell. GRACE begins in 1972, with rumors of Watergate on the evening news. In the Bay Area, a woman, Grace Neville, is murdered. The Oakland Police Dept declares a leading Black Panther party member the major suspect.  Leah DeMartino, a UC Journalism student, has information which may absolve the suspect,  the compelling  James Ferguson. She tells what she knows to the Oakland police, and then decides to write an article about the discrepancies in the case. This begins her descent into a dangerous world of possible cover up and conspiracy, as she comes in contact with other suspects on the political left and  right. She learns more about the ambiguous role of the Oakland police, personified by her cousin Joey, a lead detective in the investigation.

     The novel’s events bear similarities to real life incidents, among them the imprisonment of Black Panther member Geronimo Pratt for a murder the FBI had proof he did not commit, and the death of actress Jean Seberg, caused in part by Cointelpro harassment for her support of the Black Panther Party.  

     Ms Sherrell , an Oakland author and nurse who volunteered in the George Jackson Clinic run by the Black Panthers in the 70’s,  witnessed and heard about many disturbing events in that period. Her novel conveys the colliding beliefs of a range of characters from different backgrounds and diverging world views.  The protagonist Leah is told by Ronnie Xavier Jones, a charismatic Vietnam veteran, “It’s still war over here. You just haven’t faced that yet. “Leah sees evidence of this internal domestic war  in the brutality with which Grace was murdered, with its possible hate crime motivation, as well as in her ongoing confrontations with her cousin Joey.  The book captures a tumultuous era in its portrayal of racial politics, love/hate relationships among black and white Americans, and the terrors of those caught up in political movements targeted by the FBI’s Cointelpro program. Leah gradually realizes that in this environment of increasing paranoia no one can afford to be naive, and few can be trusted.  She carries on writing her article despite the increasing dangers, caught up in events which carry long range political and historical implications.

         Ms Sherrell, whose work has appeared in East West Magazine, Inquiry, California Magazine, the SF Chronicle and Writing by Ordinary People ( an anthology ) , is also an RN with an MBA and a specialty in Diabetes. Her career includes working in upcountry Thailand, a Cambodian refugee camp, clinics in El Salvador, at Santa Rita prison and North Oakland County jail in Oakland, as well as in the George Jackson Clinic and other Oakland hospitals. She used many of these experiences in GRACE, her first novel.




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