The Man Who Changed Colors is a mystery story based in Massachusetts in the late 1970’s and a sequel to The Man Who Fell From the Sky by Bill Fletcher Jr. David Gomes is a journalist for the Cape & Islands Gazette, who decides to write a story about what seems at first to be an accidental death at the Quincy Shipyards and the dangerous work conditions in the shipyards. While doing research for the story, Gomes interviews friends, coworkers, and relatives of the deceased and publishes the story. After the story is published, the death at the shipyard starts to look more like a murder and not an accident as all previously assumed. After attempts on Gomes’ life, those closest to him urge him to give up on the story, but Gomes is a true journalist and feels he must see the story through to the end. After further in-depth research, Gomes is finally getting to the heart of the matter, but will he survive to tell the story? Is this story worth his life? And just how connected are the people he knows with this “accident”?
The Man Who Changed Colors is an engaging mystery novel. Though it is a sequel, it is a wonderful stand-alone novel and one that readers can enjoy without reading the previous story. The plot to this story is very well done. Mr. Fletcher does a fantastic job of leaving just enough hints along the way to engage the reader’s own investigative instincts and detective skills, both while Gomes believes the death to be an accident and after his instincts say it was murder. Based in Massachusetts, the setting spans from the Cape to Boston, stopping in various towns along the way as Gomes does his interviews and research. The author does a wonderful job of describing the setting without it being too overdone. Same, too, can be said about the characters in the story. There are many, the main characters have great depth, and one feels like they know them. The minor characters are given a description that is perfect, giving enough detail to describe them, yet letting the reader use their imagination to fill them out fully if they so choose. Mr. Fletcher’s writing style is refreshing in this way. This story takes the reader on a journey, guiding them through the people, places, and events, but magically lets the reader observe on their own. It is up to the reader how involved they would like to be. Do they want to try to figure it out before they are given the answer? Do they want to guess who certain people in the story are before they are told who that person was? Do they care to imagine more of the scenery? There are a few subplots within the story, none that overshadow the mystery but that give more depth to the life of Gomes. There are also a few themes at play besides mystery: racism, immigration, and politics. Based in 1978-1979 post-civil rights era, Gomes, a black man, deals with racism throughout the story. A majority of the ship yard workers are immigrants, and there is some knowledge imparted on the reader about their plight before and after arriving to America. There were a few minor editing mistakes, but that happens in almost every book, and they are not so egregious that they detract from the story. I would read this story again, only next time I would love to read the physical copy, as it is a real page-turner. Bravo, Mr. Fletcher.