For the past decade, Walker Holmes has published the Pensacola Insider, a weekly newspaper that struggles to stay solvent while reporting on corruption, racism and injustice.
Situated on the Florida Panhandle on the Florida-Alabama border, the coastal town has struggled to reach its potential, but progress has always been held back by grudges, many of which have spanned generations.
When Holmes publishes an article that leads to the arrest of his best friend, he might have gone too far. The town attacks the publisher for “falsely” accusing its most popular leader, costing the newspaper ad sales and possibly his control of the Insider.
The trial is Holmes’ only chance at redemption. It doesn’t help when Hines’ wife is found dead, and the corrupt sheriff and a wealth of enemies blame Holmes.
With his young staff, a few loyal friends, and his chocolate lab-mix, Big Boy, Holmes fights back, uncovering secrets and grudges that may cost him much more than his reputation.
City of Grudges is dedicated to Hodding Carter II, the founder of my hometown newspaper.
As the owner, publisher and editor of the Delta Democrat Times in Greenville, Mississippi, Carter won the Pulitzer Prize in 1946 for a series of editorials on the ill treatment of Japanese American soldiers returning from World War II.
Carter became known as the “Spokesman of the New South” as he challenged segregation and the state’s Jim Crow laws. When he wrote an article for Look magazine on the rise of the White Citizens Councils, a successor to the Ku Klux Klan, state lawmakers attacked the article on the floor of the Mississippi House of Representatives for being a “willful lie by a nigger-loving editor.”
His grandchildren lived a few houses down the street from my home. Our families were close, and “Big Hodding” has been an inspiration for my journalism.
– Rick Outzen
Podcast of First Chapter