Kansas Murder Trilogy

3 books in series
5 out of 5 stars 4 ratings

King Harvest Publisher's summary

In the summer of 1975, a group of young men known as "the boys" make their stab for freedom harvesting wild hemp, or marijuana, on the Kansas plains. Several are Vietnam vets, and all are somehow marked, at odds with their time. They see themselves as inheritors of the mythic West, like buffalo hunters in league with their captain, Frankie Sage. As long as they remain unarmed, their crime is counted only a misdemeanor.

But a rival gang led by Valentine LaReese is prone to gunplay. The two are fated to clash. Privy to the action is CC Holtz, "King of the county", who, like any king, demands tribute.

Early on, a double murder on the border of two counties calls out both sheriffs. Their investigation and the free-spirited harvest run parallel till all trails converge, leading to a wry, dramatic climax.

The Kansas Murder Trilogy by Melvin Litton offers three stand-alone novels that spring from the heartland and mark three pivotal moments in our nation's life: the fall of Saigon and the loss of faith in the post-war construct, 1975; the brink of the Space Age and Civil Rights era, 1960; and the Great Depression, 1934. While each story carries the general flavor of its time, the characters and circumstance are distinct, and all depict the fate of common people faced with the grim fact of murder.

King Harvest, Book 1 (Range County, KS, summer/fall 1975): A group of young men known as "The Boys" make their stab for freedom harvesting marijuana on the Kansas plains. But the brutal murder of a young couple on the border of two counties threatens to sweep "The Boys" into a bigger world of crime.

Banks of the River, Book 2 (Cibola City, KS, summer 1960): "Lion" Jack, a small-town stone mason and rowdy womanizer, stands accused of murdering the man who has impregnated his 15-year-old daughter. Yet he claims he didn't do it. The whole town witnesses the subsequent trial and surprising conclusion.

Skin for Skin, Book 3 (Elim, KS, autumn 1934): In the grip of hard times, a robbery at a rural poker game leads to a murder disguised as an accident, and is so judged by a coroner's inquiry. At the victim's grave, his older brother vows vengeance and acts thereon to the very end.

These stories are set in the valleys and rolling pastures of the High Plains, a region that has borne the brunt of drought and many changes, evident in abandoned farms and dying towns. Yet a stubborn will persists, rooting to claim its own. Commonly termed "Flyover Country", in The Kansas Murder Trilogy, the listener will discover a human mix as rich and baffling as in any other time or place.

©2022 Melvin Litton (P)2022 David N. Wilson
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