Red Blood on White Cotton

Fiction - Mystery - General
361 Pages
Reviewed on 08/28/2019
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Author Biography

John W. Long is a retired Federal Agent with more than 36 years law enforcement experience. He has been a homicide detective, a military intelligence officer and the Special Agent-in-Charge of the DOT Inspector General's Regional Office in Atlanta.
He grew up on a large farm in South Georgia and many of the antidotes related in his book are true and occurred during his childhood. Though the characters are fiction, some are based on law enforcement cases he investigated during his career. He loves to hear from his readers at or on Facebook.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite

“I would love to hear readers’ comments concerning this book, both positive and negative. It was my first attempt...” So writes John W Long, author of Red Blood on White Cotton at the end of this incredible novel, and right off the bat I’d like to tell him that I could only wish my first book had been half as good as this one! Not only is the plot superbly developed, but the characters and what happens to them are unforgettable. Long has chosen to move back and forth between the present and the past to tell this story. In the hands of a less skilled writer, this can be a quick way to lose readers. But in Red Blood on White Cotton, it is necessary, since what happened to the protagonist, John Reynolds, as a child has everything to do with who he is when we meet him at his father’s funeral: Calvin Reynolds, a wealthy plantation owner, was one cruel father.

It is finding out why John grew up hating his father that is the most memorable part of this story, even more engaging perhaps than the investigation on which John embarks in the present. This investigation is to solve the mystery of his beloved brother’s death 30 years earlier. What he finally uncovers about what was going on in his father’s life when John was just a youngster would have ruined his family’s standing in the community. It exposes corruption and criminal activities at all levels of society and politics and makes for exciting reading as we wait for the crooks to get caught.

Red Blood on White Cotton is rich in historic detail about the hardships endured by farming families and their workers. Long’s descriptions are eye-opening, graphic, never boring and definitely unforgettable. Dialogue is realistic and expertly handled, and thankfully, the author knows the value of more showing and less telling, allowing readers to draw their own conclusions about all the characters and their motivations. This is great writing. I am really looking forward to what John W Long has in store for us next. Red Blood on White Cotton might be a tough act to follow!

Lucinda E Clarke

Set in a plantation growing cotton, peanuts, melons and a variety of other crops, with a few cattle and other livestock, Red Blood and White Cotton by John W Long tell the tale of the Reynolds family. Patriarch Calvin works his farmhands hard and his family of three sons even harder. The brunt of his anger falls on Johnny, the youngest. Each of the boys plans to escape their domineering father – but fate does not always work out in the way they expected. The book runs parallel between Johnny’s memories of his childhood from the age of six, through to his early twenties and the modern-day from when he stands beside his father’s grave. A letter left to Johnny asks him to solve a family mystery that took place over thirty years ago.

I found Red Blood on White cotton by John W Long a refreshing read. There are no car chases and no unbelievable heroics by everyday people. Johnny Reynolds is a lawyer and he stays within the bounds of realism and lets the law enforcement officers deal with the bad guys. Having said that, there are a few scary moments as the criminal elements try to cover up past misdeeds. What I liked about the book was the description of growing up on a farm in Martinsville in the south of the United States. I could picture the scenes clearly, feel the pain and anguish of a young boy almost worked to death, and the very brief times he was allowed to take time off and play. The characters of each family member as seen through the eyes of a growing child are vivid, including Emma the cook who was Johnny’s refuge when his father was particularly cruel to him. A great story of a family during good times and bad and the solving of the thirty-year-old mystery as one disaster follows another with surprising repercussions and revelations about the past. A five-star book.

Trudi LoPreto

Red Blood on White Cotton jockeys between the past and the present life of John Reynolds. When John’s father dies and he has to return home to the wealthy plantation life he left behind, facts are revealed that will send him into a tailspin. The boyhood of John, his father and mother, two brothers and sister made for a difficult life with deaths, anger, abuse but also love. John returns for the funeral after being away for many years to find that his father has left him information that he never knew growing up and that he can now find answers. The secrets of Riverdale Plantation are his to discover and he is surprised at some of the answers and disappointed by others. He finds more questions, answers, danger to himself and his sister, the murder of witnesses, and continues to search for why his brother disappeared all those years ago without a trace. The suspense never stops and the final conclusions are drawn until the last word of the epilogue.

Red Blood on White Cotton is a story of mystery, family relationships, friendship and more. I really enjoyed reading this intriguing and well-written novel. Author John W. Long gave a very real and accurate picture bringing together the old and present days. It was always clear when we were with John as a young boy and when it switched back to his adult life. This book falls into several genres and will appeal to most readers. I found it hard to put down and stayed up past my bedtime several nights and put off some of my chores to read just one more chapter. This is a winner – don’t pass it by.

Richard Walleshauser

It's hard to believe that this book was John's first stab at writing a novel. The book has two intermingling story lines from the past and present that kept me interested until the very end. I have lived in Atlanta for 27 years, but never took a deep dive into discovering what it was like to live and work on a cotton farm. I'll never whine again that it is too hot to do yard work! Anyway, while I was reading this book, I felt like I was there with all of the interesting characters. To top it off, the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the main character's older brother and his girlfriend took a few unexpected turns that kept me turning the pages well into the night. Thank you John - I am waiting for your next novel!