Most mystery and crime fiction features a lone heroic detective (possibly with a loyal sidekick) who captures an individual criminal and restores the status quo. A “social justice mystery,” such as the Rainwood House series of which Rainwood House Sings is the first book, instead explores mysteries whose origins lie in the status quo itself.
Rather than relying on an individual to figure things out and put things back in order, the characters think together about what is behind the mysteries that plague them. They investigate and act together to make mysteries clear, including the social situations behind them. And the justice they seek is not just for the individuals involved but for the larger issues they’re tackling.
The central characters in Rainwood House Sings and the future books in the series–Rainwood House Burns is currently in the works–activists Marlie Mendíval and Demetrius Ben M’Hidi, along with nine-year-old budding detective Samantha, tackle mysteries great and small with creativity, humor and collective action . In the course of the three-part series, ramshackle Rainwood House gradually reveals itself as a place of refuge for activists fleeing various forms of persecution, fulfilling its past history and becoming a modern-day Underground Railroad stop. The activists who live, stay, work and take shelter there organize, wrangle and reflect together on how to face the issues confronting them–not to restore the status quo but to change it.