We last met protagonist, Los Angeles Standard columnist, Alex Marshall, using her sleuthing skills to solve a murder at the National Association of Black Journalists in Plain Brown Wrapper. Author Karen Grigsby Grant unleashes Alex's expertise again with her latest release, Chosen People.
Alex, who has her pulse on the black community of Los Angeles, is assigned to write an article about James Simpson Lee Hastings Jr., the self-proclaimed authority on the Black Bourgeois and author of Chosen People, a book that, depending on who you ask, is either uplifting rich black folk or putting down poorer black folk. Alex knew Hastings had enemies but who would slit his throat at an Eso Wan Book Store signing? She finds herself right smack in the middle of another murder case much to the chagrin of Paul Butler, her out-of-town beau, and her landlady, wealthy matron Sally Ferguson, who have continually admonished her to stay out of trouble, but it seems it just ain't going to happen. Why do these things happen to her? When Alex makes the connection of Hastings' murder to that of an alleged suicide of a wealthy white philanthropist and the vicious attack murder by pit bulls of a prominent African American woman, the plot thickens. All of these victims are only separated by the proverbial six degrees of separation.
From the horse country in Norco of San Diego County, to the streets of South Central Los Angeles to swanky homes in Hancock Park and the Los Feliz Hills and the churches of the Black middle-class, Alex searches for answers. The cast of characters include a pro-black, militant activist turned horse trainer, old money black L.A. and a Jewish socialite. Not only is it a "small colored world", it is a small world, period.
Grigsby Bates peppers her book throughout with phrases, some familiar; some newly coined, a sort of insider's secret language. Besides "small colored world", there is her code for white people, "WP", and the Black Bourgeoisie, "Nigwazeez" and other witty terms. The book, Chosen People, featured in the storyline was an excellent parody of Our Kind of People by Lawrence Otis Graham, the controversial account which took the middle/upper class African American community by storm several years ago. Indeed, as in her last book, Grigsby Bates gives you a glimpse into the black elite of Los Angeles; the class schisms in the African American community, the divisions and tension that exist and how they are exploited. I can hardly wait to see what Alex gets into next.