Mappit.net lists 930 books about Missouri and 130 books about Kansas City, Missouri. Yet only a handful of these books are about black Americans in Kansas City, Missouri. However, readers are in luck because a new book, entitled, The Alford Plea: Speculative Biographical Fiction, is about the writer’s family – all of whom live in Kansas City, Missouri.
The whodunnit involves an innocent man who takes the Alford Plea and additionally files a lawsuit against his arresting officer. Following his defiant lawsuit, his three children are murdered. The reader’s task is to determine if the arresting officer is behind the murders or if the officer is merely a red herring who obscures the real villain.
The children’s father resides in the Jackson County, Kansas City jail. His wife, modeled after local women in the Mothers in Charge Program in Kansas City, and her children reside in The Village Green, a low-income housing development built by JC Nichols who had in the previous century, placed race-based covenants on the housing.
Through descriptions of the children’s grandparents, we discover that the family derives from the comingling of the Native Americans with slaves. The Missouri Indians resided in the area before the Louisiana Purchase and the state of Missouri entered the United States as a slave state. Article one, Section Two of the Constitution of the United States declared that any person who was not free would be counted as three-fifths of a free individual. The “Three-Fifths Clause” thus increased the political power of slaveholding states.
The book opens on Paseo Boulevard, designed by George Kessler who led The City Beautiful Movement in Kansas City. The Sheriff, the police chief, and the mayor all dither and equivocate while awaiting the outcome of a Clean Missouri Bill which, if passed, will rid them of their right-wing Governor and their GOP-funded legislators who have gerrymandered the state’s voting maps for years to minimize the impact of black voters in Kansas City.
The first black American crime novelist was Chester Himes who wrote Cotton Comes to Harlem, in 1965 when there were very few black crime writers. Now, Crime Writers of Color, co-founded in 2018 by Walter Mosley, has over 350 members who are writers of color.
Another of Edwina’s books, entitled Summertime and the Livin’ is Easy won the American Writing Award: Inspirational Fiction category last year, and her romance novel Vanilla, Cinnamon and Dark Chocolate was favorably reviewed by major book reviewers. You can find video trailers of all of her books at edwinaldorch.com