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Scorched Earth

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  149 ratings  ·  37 reviews
From David L. Robbins, bestselling author of The End of War and War of the Rats, comes a novel of searing intensity and uncompromising vision. Part mystery, part legal thriller, it is a story of crime and punishment set in a small southern town during one brutal, hot, and unforgiving summer that lays bare the potential of the human heart to hate–and, ultimately, to heal.

Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 4th 2003 by Bantam (first published January 1st 2002)
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Country Noir
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Irene Ziegler
I greatly admire this book. Robbins transcends the mystery genre with language as sweet and rich as a mint julep on a starry night.

A child is born to a black man and a white women in a small Virginia town. The child dies, and is buried in the Baptist church cemetery. But the elders insist on unearthing the child, because only whites are allowed in their cemetery. The night after the child is exhumed and moved to the black cemetery, the church burns down. The father of the child, a black man, is
I was enthralled by this book. The language is pitch perfect; the narration is vivid, each character has a unique voice, and the dialogue feels authentic - truly charged with all that is left unsaid. The story itself is such a maze or moral questioning and compromise. I found myself constantly wondering what I would do in the place of various characters. An interesting question that seemed to come up a lot was how far one can go to remain loyal before entering the territory of corruption, denial ...more
Dale Barlow
a novel Morgan bought at a book exchange while in Malawi & what an absolute page turner it is—right down to the last page. A small community Baptist Church deacons remove a biracial child from the “church cemetery”, the church burns, the father is accused. The defense attorney is asked to come home to represent the father and a whole bunch of chaos ensues. This book was not only engrossing but also insightfully written on SO many levels. I could go on and on. 2002 paperback, 338 pgs., read M ...more
Jul 26, 2011 Stuart added it
I loved this book! The story begins with the untimely death of the child of an inter-racial couple, a couple who had seemed to be perfectly accepted in their Virginia town, even being held up as examples in the workplace diversity council. Suddenly all the racism that had been hidden surfaces, in the refusal of the deacons of the white church to accept the child for burying (in fact, digging up the dead body and rejecting it). There follow reprisals (the church is burnt down) and a gripping inve ...more
A Well-Crafted Mystery With Too Many Words (2013)

Robbins, David L. (2002). Scorched Earth. New York: Bantam.

This mystery and courtroom drama takes place in a small town in contemporary Virginia. It opens with scenes of Clare and Elijah living an idyllic life, filled with love, in their country house. They tend their garden, fish in the stream, repair the house, and make love outside in the grass. Elijah is a big, strong, quiet black man who works at the paper mill during the week. Clare is a tal
In diesem Buch geht es vor allem um Elijah und Clare Waddel – er ein Schwarzer, sie eine Weiße -, die geheiratet haben und nun ein Kind erwarten. Das geborene Mädchen kommt allerdings ohne vollständig ausgebildetem Gehirn auf die Welt, da ihre Eltern in einer Papierfabrik arbeiten, wo viele Chemikalien eingesetzt werden. Nora Carol, so nennen sie ihre Tochter, lebt gerade mal zehn Minuten lang. Clares Großmutter ist eine der Kirchenältesten der Victory Baptist Church veranlasst eine schnelle Bei ...more
Good Hope, Virginia is a small town with a number of big problems. The problems are nothing new to small towns - interracial marriage, babies dying, church controversy, murder and maybe rape. What small town hasn't had at least some of these troubles. However, the community of Good Hope manages to combine all these issues so that the rest of Virginia knows their problems and that is not good.

Robbins held my interest through his entire story. He is a good storyteller. I have to say, however, that
Lake Oz Fic Chick
Scorched Earth by David L. Robbins

A mixed-race infant dies at birth and is buried in the cemetery of an all-white church in a small Virginia town. Soon, however, the church deacons reconsider, ordering the body exhumed and buried in the black cemetery. The white church goes up in flames and, since he’s found at the scene, the baby’s father is the obvious suspect. Improbably, he maintains his innocence. The long hot summer is turning into a drought and tensions are mounting. When the body of a wh
Jul 20, 2010 MARGO rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Every now and then you run across a book that features intriguing characters, a compelling plot, and a riveting ending. Scorched Earth is such a book. Grieving parents, a frightened town, and a reluctant hero come together in a quest for that most powerful of human drives, the search for dignity. Scorched Earth is a deftly crafted mystery, set in a place both new and familiar, with characters so true they make the heart ache. Oh one little tip, when you think the book has come to it's conclusion ...more
A black man and his white wife have a child who lives only a few minutes. Heartbroken, they bury her in the cemetery of the Victory Baptist Church. The outraged deacons force them to dig her up for reburial in the black cemetery 3 miles away. That night the church suddenly burns down and the father is jailed. The unraveling of what happened and how the members of this small southern community intertwine makes for an interesting and well written story. I listened to it on tape and the narrtor, To ...more
Not Robbins best book but am always impressed with his writing style.
this book was hard. well written. story draws you in and some of the characters are very believable. the story was difficult to take - along the lines of "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" and i find i have less and less tolerance for this and can stomach the subject of bigotry less well as i age. on the other hand, we all have some of this in us and the strains we have know no lines in society from the most influential to the least, from the person we expect it in the least to the person we expect it in t ...more
Nat is a lawyer who is called back to his hometown by the local judge. He is to defend a man who is accused of burning down a "white" church after he is found outside of the church cheering on the fire. His defending Elijah brings back memories of growing up in Good Hope and his interactions with those people he is now working with/against on the case. This book takes a close look at outward appearances, trusting those in power, age old practices, race and how far some people will go to make thi ...more
Amy Hyde
Predictable. Nothing really exciting about the plot of the characters.
Powerfully impacting...steeped with pondering ironies, bittersweet human frailties and strengths...beautiful ugly truths. A riveting page-turner of epic proportion, written with a stylistic stark finesse, somewhat akin to Hemingway. "Scorched Earth" lays bare an emotionally emblazoned story-line which follows the trails of legal justice and faith yielding recompense, tugging strongly at core value heartstrings and ethics. Love may cover a multitude of sins...but at what cost?
Great book... I totally thought I'd figured it all out and I hadn't. I was surprised at the end. It has a lot of themes that make you think...racism, religion, the importance of community (and how even 2 or 3 people can make a community), marriage, what makes someone good or bad. There was a lot in here to discuss, to ponder and to make you question your own assumptions.
Reading this book is like a roller coaster ride. It never stops giving you surprises down to the very last page.

David L. Robbins is a writer who knows how to pull in the reader. His characters are believable and so are their actions. I have never had the pleasure of reading his novels before, but I definitely plan to read more of his work.
Matthew Frary
A good legal thriller that is a little slow to develop; but contains characters and a story that unfortunately are all too real in today's society. Racism rears it's ugly head in a small Virginia community. The end is full of twists and turns that the reader doesn't anticipate and in the end justice prevails. A good read.
Overall, it was an okay courtroom drama boook. I felt like there wasn't a whole lot of action in this book. It had the same tone throughout the book. It was a little on the boring side where it just went on and on. I liked the basic plot of the book. But I don't I can recomend this book to others.
Interesting book that involves racial undertones that probably still exist today. It demonstrates throughout the story how human weakness, coincidence, and our justice system can cause unfair suffering through the fair application of law. An interesting story. Different than my usual choice, but enjoyable.
I read this because although the names of things were changed, it very obviously takes place in West Point, VA, where my library is. It was a good legal thriller, a good mystery, and reminds one of what's worth fighting for.
We listened to this as a Book on tape and it held our interest over quite a few miles. There were some interesting twists in the plot. Nice easy listening without having to struggle with thinking about meanings and morals.
This book is a mystery and legal thriller combined. Believable characters...good plot. Keeps you thinking throughout the story. Surprise ending !!
Neil Haines
A well written story worthy of all it's positive praises. The story has wonderful twists that keeps the pages turning until the last few.
Ruth Vanderhart
Fine read. Couldn't put it down. A mystery--but so much more. Powerful story set in small-town Virginia.
A good read from a local (Richmond) author who is also a client and friend of my hubby's.
This was such a sad story, but I loved it. It was well told and kept me guessing until the end.
I read the book after seeing the play at Barksdale Theatre. The book was much better than the play.
Just starting..themes are racism and religion with a murder thrown in.
Lynette Barfield
See the comment. I put the review in the comment section.
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David L. Robbins was born in Richmond, Virginia, on March 10, 1954. He grew up in Sandston, a small town east of Richmond out by the airport; his father was among the first to sit behind the new radar scope in the air traffic control tower. Both his parents, Sam and Carol, were veterans of WWII. Sam saw action in the Pacific, especially at Pearl Harbor.

In 1976, David graduated with a B.A. in Theat
More about David L. Robbins...
The Empty Quarter War of the Rats The Devil's Waters Last Citadel The End of War

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