In this debut novel, a young, white artist named Reddick is the last person to see the daughter of a wealthy Manhattan family before she disappears. When the family refuses to call the police, Reddick sets out to discover what happened to her where he saw her last—Bedford-Stuyvesant, the historically black Brooklyn neighborhood besieged by gentrification, where he lives.
This stunning debut opens boldly with the word You, as did Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City (1984), and readers are likely to make other comparisons between the two, though Restoration Heights stands apart because of an added element of mystery ... This is an instant New York fiction classic, exuding dark poetry from a lyrical narrative populated by well-defined characters in carefully, or, shall we say, artistically, arranged settings. Best recommended to a younger, hip audience or to aging McInerney fans who remember Bright Lights, Big City with fondness.
The mystery itself is a little convoluted. Reddick makes some dubious assumptions about the suspects. The narrative slows when Medearis explains the plodding deal-making of real estate development, which is not as compelling as the lively tension between his characters. And strangely, the missing fiancée is also missing from the story, since Reddick doesn’t seem particularly interested in learning more about her. Instead, he becomes obsessed with Restoration Heights and the corporations cashing in on the neighborhood that he loves ... The innovative sections of this novel all deal with Reddick’s art background. Art becomes a method to see and unravel the mystery, and Reddick is not only figuring out what happened, he’s making something new. I wished Medearis had embraced this aspect more, or at least the seedier thrills of noir. Solving a puzzle is pleasurable, even a grim one.
...a noir tale of mystery and power that echoes Raymond Chandler and James Baldwin, creating a nuanced, unique narrative of New York City and the people within ... Restoration Heights is both a mystery and an in-depth study of the psychological fallout and deep racial tensions that result from economic inequality and unrestricted urban development. With his prose, Medearis captures the spirit of New York by cracking its veneer of inclusivity and adding a touch of the unknown the city always seems to possess.