Murder By Dissent
Patricia M. Muhammad
Fiction, Historical, Mystery, Romance
March 17, 2021
Protests, riots and someone who hides under the flame that scorches the possibility of improving race relations in America during the Civil Rights era. Jacqueline Sadie Thompson is a detective in a coloured precinct in New York. Lieutenant Reynolds assigns her and Johnson murder cases which occurred during protests. They visit the scene. Someone tosses a Molotov cocktail where they stand. The building collapses. Thompson's British husband, William rescues her. Her partner suffers a coma. Johnson awakens. He recalls the disturbing notions his wife had concerning racial identity. Thompson faints at the station house and is put on leave. Her husband cares for her. Anderson, another detective, furthers their investigations. Johnson convinces one of his cousins to retrieve a book. The detective is aloof and does not disclose to anyone what he saw before the explosion. Jacqueline deduces a portion of it. Jacqueline is determined to solve the case. Her husband is determined to protect her. Who do they both need protection from?
Mild note: The protagonist and her husband share intimate moments-often. Although there is only mention of legs, arms, embraces and kisses, the remaining descriptions I use allegory and references to nature to describe their intimacy. This may be considered mild to moderately "Steamy" depending on the potential reader's inclination.
Moderate to severe discretion (abridged): This book is a work of fiction. However, the author intended to create characters and settings historically accurate to the era it takes place in, the racially tumultuous 1960s. Certain terms used as racial descriptions now considered archaic, outdated or even offensive are used to reflect the past usage by both black and white Americans of that era.
Additional note: A portion of the main plot revolves a pivotal scene in which a few people are injured due to an explosion which destroys a building. This notice is to advise those who may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD") concerning traumatic events based the recollection of certain sounds or the imagery which may encompass them both.
The 1960s was a tumultuous period of self-discovery, the height of a new era in racial politics and a decade when the nation mourned the loss of some of its leaders who fought for change. In this small town of New York, a precinct comprised of coloured detectives await their next assignment. Jacqueline Sadie Thompson, along with her partner Sebastian Johnson receive their new cases from Lieutenant Davidson. Urban areas are wrought with civil unrest. The news broadcasts a daily litany of casualties as a result. Some accuse law enforcement of using excessive force. Disagreement often arises among the protestors, but no one would ever assume that it would result in two homicides. Thompson and Johnson review their cases, one a stabbing victim, the other a fatality due to gunshot wounds. They decide that it is best to visit the scene of their murders. Jacqueline breaches protocol and allows for her Anglo-British husband, William to accompany her. The rear of the Woolworth building is not only the scene of these homicides, but on the same day and on other occasions before, it served as a backdrop to a few civil rights protests. All three exit the unmarked vehicle. Sebastian and Jacqueline discuss the angles their victims laid on the ground. They all hear something. It was the shattering of glass. Someone hurled a Molotov cocktail. They hear rumbling. The building begins to collapse. Debris, dust, and mortar fill their immediate surroundings. Johnson looks at Thompson. William rescues Jacqueline, his wife, to safety. Days pass. Thompson does not know if her partner survived. Her husband has a doctor examine her. As she is feeling better, she learns that Sebastian survived the explosion. Initially she elicits another colleague of theirs, Mark Anderson, to assist with the cases pending their supervisor's approval. The lieutenant grants it. Mark and Jacqueline visit Johnson who lies in a coma. He suddenly awakens while the other two detectives are present. Dr. Alexander, along with two nurses tend to him. Thompson interviews Johnson. He saw something, a matter very grave before the blast separated them. Margaret, Sebastian's wife was there. She was shot and killed from behind. Johnson hesitates to speak more of it. Thompson begins to figure out some of the facts on her own. Anderson observes. He focuses on helping them by primarily speaking to Thompson while they are at the station house. One day after Anderson and Thompson brief the lieutenant of their findings, Jacqueline faints. Her supervisor calls her husband. Davidson orders her on sick leave. William rushes to the precinct to retrieve his wife. More than a week passes. William constantly cares for Jacqueline. They share several intimate moments. Lieutenant Davidson decides he is to investigate the explosion himself. At some point, most believe that the explosion was related to the murder cases. Anderson visits Johnson. On another day Davidson visits his subordinate while he lay in the hospital. Racial tensions throughout the country are still mounting. Davidson decides that he should focus on scientific evidence. The forensic scientist discovers the finger prints found on two guns recovered from the scene of the blast. This does not help his investigation. However, Davidson shares what has been presented to him to Anderson. Mark is baffled at first. He was to help with Johnson and Thompson's murder cases, not any potential ones as of late. Sebastian entertains a small rotating lot of visitors while still recuperating. Two of whom are his cousins, Carl and Craig. When Craig visits the detective alone, he asks for him to recover a book in his house. He believes from what he witnessed, that the book has the answers as to why. Why the murders. Why did what nearly happen to him occur? After Craig retrieves it, Johnson keeps it secure in his bed until Dr. Alexander discharges him. Anderson visits him again. Sebastian is reluctant to share what he has now confirmed. However, Johnson reconsiders and allows for Mark to read some of the contents. Anderson already discussed with Davidson the need for a plan. They believe there was an accomplice involved with the murders. Mark struggles to think of a time and place. Davidson forgot about a notecard a protest planner gave him. Mark believes this is the perfect opportunity to execute the plan. Johnson mulls over how disturbed his wife was for so long. Racial hatred was not only an issue between the Negro and the white; but it had always been a divisive issue among coloureds as well. Mark convinces Sebastian to allow him to plant the book. Neither Johnson nor Thompson would return to work soon. Anderson preoccupies himself by learning the layout of the protestors' meeting hall. He sets his eyes on which room he would use. Craig attempts to convince his cousin, Sebastian, not to trust Mark. Johnson questions his cousin's motive. Jacqueline and William continue to enjoy their gratuitous time together. They explore the beauty of their intimacy. William wishes for Jacqueline to resign from the force. Thompson considered the same and eventually shares her thoughts on the matter. Her husband is relieved. The day they hope to catch the conspirator arrives. The meeting hall is full. It is a lively soon and perhaps even deadly. Shots are fired. Did the detectives catch their suspects?