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At First Light

1993: An old Cuban woman is out walking in Key West when she comes across a Ku Klux Klan rally in the park. Quickly, she returns home, picks up her gun, and returns to shoot and kill a Klan member. When she is arrested she admits to the charges against her: “It was me. I did it.” Is Alicia Cortez a cold-blooded killer?

1919: Escaping Cuba and her family, Alicia Cortez arrives in Key West where she soon meets and falls in love with war hero John Morales. As racial tensions rise in Key West, Alicia and John’s interracial relationship begins to draw the attention of the local Ku Klux Klan, who have recently established themselves within the community.

Inspired by true events, Vanessa Lafaye has beautifully crafted a social history with insights into the mindset of the Ku Klux Klan and their prejudices, the stresses of forbidden love, and life in 1919 Key West, through to the modern-day handling of a crime of passion and revenge. At First Light exposes the evil that permeated the United States, with the Ku Klux Klan taking a central role and, whilst this is a glimpse into the history books, it is frightening to realise the similarities to contemporary events taking place in our current world landscape.

The author uses beautiful and evocative imagery, with an undercurrent of fear, and all of the characters are vividly drawn. The structure of the book is seamless, switching effortlessly from past to present day. Lafaye has an exceptional gift for storytelling.

Every so often a book comes along that you immediately know you're going to read more than once, you want to keep like a treasure on your bookshelf, and you'll be recommending to everyone. At First Light is just that book.

Perfect for readers who enjoyed The Help and To Kill a Mockingbird.