Polis Books


Available now in hardcover and ebook!

The very first title from Agora, the new Polis Books imprint dedicated to crime fiction from diverse and underrepresented voices

"Vercher deftly explores identity and the ethics of accountability in this debut. Fans of realistic social issue narratives will be immersed in the moral dilemmas of this timely novel."
Library Journal (Starred Review)

"Vercher builds strong, multifaceted characters with bold strokes, using the tools of noir to present what is finally a full-blown tragedy.”
―Bill Ott, Booklist (Starred Review)

“A sad, swift tale bearing rueful observations about color and class as urgent now as 24 years ago.”―Kirkus Reviews

"A brilliant page turner. John Vercher is a gifted new voice in the crime fiction genre; I can’t wait to see what he does next."
―Sujata Massey, author of THE WIDOWS OF MALABAR HILL

"John Vercher has achieved what few others have: he has swung open a door that others either knew was there and feared what was behind it, or acknowledged what was there and falsely nullified its deceptions and dangers. This is a crime story that masterfully, beautifully, ingeniously reveals the duplicity of racial psychology and the far-reaching violence it spawns on the American landscape."
―Stephen Mack Jones, author of the AUGUST SNOW thriller series

"Feverishly entertaining. Resoundingly important. A book treading this kind of ground should not be able to move this fast. THREE-FIFTHS is an honest, fearless page-burner. Vercher is a writer to watch."
―David Joy, author of THE LINE THAT HELD US

"In THREE-FIFTHS, John Vercher uses an explosive act of violence to tell a very harrowing, very relevant story about race, but also family and friendship and masculinity―and all the dangers that come with those things. Keep your eye on Vercher―any writer who comes out of the gate this strong is bound for great things."
―Rob Hart, author of THE WAREHOUSE and ASH MCKENNA series

A compelling and timely debut novel from an assured new voice: Three-Fifths is about a biracial black man, passing for white, who is forced to confront the lies of his past while facing the truth of his present when his best friend, just released from prison, involves him in a hate crime.

Pittsburgh, 1995. The son of a black father he’s never known, and a white mother he sometimes wishes he didn’t, twenty-two-year-old Bobby Saraceno is passing for white. Raised by his bigoted maternal grandfather, Bobby has hidden his truth from everyone, even his best friend and fellow comic-book geek, Aaron, who has just returned home from prison a hardened racist. Bobby’s disparate worlds collide when his and Aaron’s reunion is interrupted by a confrontation where Bobby witnesses Aaron assault a young black man with a brick. Fearing for his safety and his freedom, Bobby must keep his secret from Aaron and conceal his unwitting involvement in the hate crime from the police. But Bobby’s delicate house of cards crumbles when his father enters his life after more than twenty years.

Three-Fifths is a story of secrets, identity, violence and obsession with a tragic conclusion that leave all involved questioning the measure of a man, and was inspired by the author’s own struggles with identity as a biracial man during his time as a student in Pittsburgh amidst the simmering racial tension produced by the L.A. Riots and the O.J. Simpson trial in the mid-nineties.