UPDATE: NOW THRU MARCH 7, 2015, THE PLAN IS AVAILABLE FOR FREE DOWNLOAD FROM SMASHWORDS.
CLICK ON LINK BELOW, THEN USE SPECIAL CODE RW100 (ON PAGE) AFTER SELECTION “BUY” OPTION.
New Book Announcement: The Plan
Words: 68,380 (approximate)
Distribution: Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, major online book distributors
The Plan: Murder Mystery Historical Fiction Novel Based on Actual Civil Rights People, Places and Events; JFK Assassination Explored
A young Cleveland McDowell enters the University of Mississippi as the first black law student; later he was kicked out. Students, he said, had chased with with guns. When he carried a firearm to class, out of self protection, he was expelled. He lost a legal bid to reenter. McDowell was a close friend of James Meredith and Medgar Evers. (Photo, U of M files)
Short Summary of The Plan: The tight bond between Clinton and Joe, two gay, black lawyers (one of them, married) is broken when Joe is reportedly found hanged. A suicide seems impossible to Clint, and Joe’s widow is acting cagey. Clinton Moore believes Joe Means was tortured and murdered because of his and Joe’s shared obsession—investigating and fact gathering about civil rights cold case murders and assassinations.
The Plan is based on a real event that took place in the Mississippi Delta, where author Susan Klopfer and her psychologist husband lived for two years on the grounds of Parchman Penitentiary, where Fred Klopfer worked.
The former award-winning Missouri news reporter and Prentice Hall book editor, asked around about a murder that had taken place in the Delta—a fact she’d picked up from a new friend.
But all that “Ella’ could say was that “he was a bad man—a gay lawyer. And he was murdered.”
“Of course, I wanted to hear more. I always like a good story. But I had to learn who, what, when, whereand why on my own.”
Klopfer began digging to learn the full story, starting with a telephone call to a local minister’s wife she’d met through a local restaurant owner. “That would be Cleve McDowell, the first black law student to enter Ole Miss. He got kicked out!” the wife told her.
“I quickly learned some of this man’s story, but it took months to put everything together, so that I could make sense of what I’d heard. I had a feeling that I was the first person to uncover the whole story, as much of it that was possible to track. Of course I had to search old records, lie it to a courthouse clerk, and track down several older people who’d known this man. I eventually got a copy of his autopsy and with the help of a physician and forensic researcher, I learned that two shooters were probably involved. I also learned that the autopsy was sloppy and quick. One person went to prison for this murder, but it looked to me as if the person who shot the fatal bullet got away.”
Klopfer believes that she has the only existing copy of McDowell’s autopsy. “The state said it was no longer available, when I asked for a copy.”
Cleve McDowell became the main character—Clinton Moore—in The Plan. “I changed names, dates and locations, moving the story from Drew to Clarksdale, but did not change much else, at least in the beginning of the book. I wanted to remain true to Delta history.”
For instance, The Plan details the murder of a young woman, Jo Etha Collier, who was brutally killed on the night of her high school graduation in Drew. More is written about the murder of Mississippi civil rights icon, Medgar Evers. The Emmett Till lynching is further explored. But the book finally takes a paranormal turn, Klopfer admits.
The writer, who currently resides as an expat in Cuenca, Ecuador, said that she picked up a piece of “interesting Mississippi Delta JFK assassination history” which she weaves into The Plan. “I learned of a Delta man, a private detective named John D. Sullivan, who ended up working in New Orleans with key figures named by well-known JFK assassination conspiracy researchers.” The names, she said, include former FBI agent Guy Banister and pilot David Ferrie, along with Carlos Marcello, boss of the New Orleans crime family.
Sullivan died from a suspicious gun accident at home, after returning to the Delta from the Big Easy. “Even Sullivan’s children said they didn’t believe the story they were told about how their father died. Apparently Sullivan spent a lot of time with a family friend, a well-known judge, after coming home before he died. I would love to see the judge’s notes.”
Klopfer believes that “the real Cleve McDowell” easily would have had contact with Sullivan. “They would not have liked each other. Sullivan was a right-wing, former FBI agent who was a racist for at least most of his professional life. The state’s Sovereignty Commission records attest to this, as do those who gave me interviews. Who knows? Maybe McDowell researched Sullivan’s strange death and got in over his head.”
The Delta attorney, she says, could have learned something about the Kennedy or Dr. Martin Luther King assassination. “Or the Emmett Till lynching. I certainly could not leave out this possibility. He kept in frequent contact with Emmett Till’s mother, working on this cold case for most of his professional life. His office was filled with investigation records when he was killed. Later, many were burned in a dramatic fire,” Klopfer said.
“I learned through all of this that Cleve McDowell was a compassionate man who deserves to be remembered. I want this message to come out of this book. I am surprsed at how difficult it was to find records and stories about him.”
The Plan starts in New York City, with a history professor who intends on contacting Moore to congratulate him on his seventy-second birthday. But the professor gets interrupted by the sister of a colleague at Penn State University who disappeared in South America—in the Chilean Andes—in 1985. Trying to assist Boris Weisfeiler’s kin, the professor forgets to call his Mississippi friend.
The Plan moves to the Mississippi Delta. “A murder takes place, and Clinton Moore narrates the rest of the story. It is his journey to find the murderer of his best friend, Joe Means. And his own killer, as well,” Klopfer said.
Klopfer notes that character “Joe Means” is also based on a true person who she believes also was murdered in Montgomery Alabama. “Henry S. Mims was a friend of Cleve McDowell’s. They went to school together. It is said he committed suicide, but after listening to whispers over the phone from a Huntsville law clerk (where he worked), I don’t believe that story, either.”
Mims also was a lawyer who worked on civil rights cold cases in his spare time.
The Plan has a gay subtheme. “The Plan is historical fiction. I took liberties to make it more interesting to readers. But I believe that was not a big stretch to make. I spoke to various friends and scoured the state’s Sovereignty Commission files to make this decision.”
Is a sequel in the works? “Definitely,” Klopfer says.
The Plan, as it moves from the Delta to Ecuador, has a strong link to Chile, where recent trials have taken place over a Chilean and German-run terrorist/torture camp, by the name of Colonia Dignidad.
“Look this up on the Internet. Colonia Dignidad exists,” Klopfer says.
“And it is where the sequel begins.”
Words: 68,380 (approximate)