Dead Above Ground by Jervey Tervalon
Set in 1946, Tervalon's Dead Above Ground follows the story of the Du Champ's, a black family living in New Orleans. Adele, the eldest daughter, has always had a weakness for men. And despite the fact that she's married to a devoted, decent man who can "pass," her mother has always turned a blind eye to her running around on him.
That is, until Adele takes up with Lucien Faure, a dangerous playboy and sometimes pimp. Then, Helen Du Champ comes down on her daughter and her lover with all the fury she can muster. But it's not enough. Adele won't.. or can't give Lucien up.
Younger daughter, Lita, has never understood why her mother is so lenient with Adele and so strict with her. She also can't understand what makes Lucien any worse than Adele's other paramours.
The story then falls into flashback, as Helen tells her daughter about her startling past and reveals the real reason Lucien is so dangerous to Adele. There's an old score to be settled, and most likely, it will end bloodily.
The book has an interesting structure, and packs a lot of family history, New Orleans atmosphere, and dark secrets into a scant 200 pages. Not a word is wasted, though, and Tervalon's novel is shocking, powerful, and engaging.