Adult Picture Books

Before Instagram, there were picture books with a complement of editorial copy that could be considered the literary version of today’s popular social networking site.

One of those books, I consider one of the most enlightening books that I’ve read on Africans in America, is “A Pictorial History of the Negro in America,” edited by Langston Hughes and Milton Meltzer – Third Revision, by C. Eric Lincoln and Milton Meltzer.  Crown Publishers, Inc., New York

One of my favorites since the 3rd grade; I brought the 380-page book to school for the popular classroom infotainment segment called “Show and Tell.”

Now that I’m looking at this book again through “new millennium” eyes, I realize picture history books of this type will most definitely become popular again, if they haven’t already, to appeal to a new generation of readers.

Do you have a favorite history picture book?  Please share in the comment section below! Thank you for reading!

Severed, a Novel | A Black Woman’s Burden

Someone is a few digits short of a hand in Nakadee, Louisiana.  What’s worse, someone may be torturing and holding the finger-less victim captive in this small river town. So head of Nakadee Police Department Criminal Investigations Unit Captain Nate Padgett enlists the help of Forensic Anthropologist Lula Logan, Ph.D., whom he feels he can trust since she’s having an affair with his direct report, Junior Detective Devon Lemonde.

Padgett needs Logan to find out if the victim is still among the living.  Dead or Alive means the difference between a local investigation or handing it over to the Feds.   Meanwhile, Dr. Logan has her own project underway.  She’s in town to work on a research project that will tell the story of the enslaved Africans who revolted against their captors in 1830 on a former plantation.

Dr. Logan has her finger on the pulse of the present, a missing fingers case, and that of the enslaved Africans of the past.  The question remains, which case will be her undoing.


Just in time for Mardi Gras (February 28, 2017), a story to satisfy your appetite for all things Louisiana Creole-Cajun cuisine.

Served up for your delight,

Severed, a Novel

A Crime Thriller charbroiled in a damning indictment of American society with a side of biting cultural and social commentary on the menu.

Specialty Cocktail

“A wine-soaked finger corking a bottle of sherry…”


delivered to the Nakadee Police Department to kick off the soiree. Unsure where to begin an investigation, the head of the Criminal Investigations Unit, Captain Nate Padgett, and his Junior Detective Devon Lemonde invite their resident bones expert to lend them a helping hand.


Lula Logan, Ph.D. (Osteology from UC Santa Cruz), Forensics Anthropologist, Professor at Nakadee University, already has a full plate. Dr. Logan frequently appears on the national lecture circuit at various medical conferences to present “The Bare Bones of Forensic Anthropology” course. In addition, she teaches at the local university while working on a National Park Service research fellowship to determine the life and death of enslaved Africans found on “the old Robert McAlpin plantation” in Natchitoches. The site is rumored to be a mass grave site of enslaved Africans slaughtered in a Nat Turner-inspired uprising in 1830.

Adding to this Bouillabaisse, Dr. Logan is in the process of extracting herself from a dead-end love affair with the CIU’s Junior Detective Lemonde while watering a budding affair with a Republican congressman, U.S. Rep. Ambrose Girabeaux (R-LA).

A ménage à trois made possible by the Police Chief, Allouicious Broussard, who has political aspirations.  He also pressures Captain Padgett to close the case immediately.  Broussard, Rep. Girabeaux, Tyrell Armstrong, MBE Certified, a chemical engineer, and other town leaders are preparing to meet to finalize a deal that will bring from Brazil to Nakadee a multibillion-dollar natural gas pipeline project.

Padgett also needs Dr. Logan to find out if the victim is still among the living.  Dead or Alive means the difference between a local investigation or handing it over to the Feds.

Dr. Logan’s quest for justice for the past could take a backseat to the present if she chooses to assist in a crime-in-progress of the butchered finger case.


Enter the Unsub (Unknown subject of investigation) finger-butcher, a possible serial killer who is hell-bent on revenge – but the answer to why is in the mirror held up to the protagonist.


Dr. Logan believes her research will result in bringing justice to the dead. In short, the bones of the enslaved Africans will reveal the harsh treatment they were subjected to, thereby validating the true story of slavery in America.

The locals, former confederates, including Sherry, a student and self-proclaimed white supremacist in Dr. Logan’s forensic class, believes Dr. Logan is stirring up ill-will from the past, and the dead and past deeds should remain buried and covered up. Like most locals, Sherry believes only the “glory of war” should drive the town’s historical narrative.

Dr. Lula says, [she]

“wanted to give voice to the horrors of slavery not as a politician, but as a scientist.”

Yet, it’s Dr. Logan’s own need for validation that takes her off her research path to assist Captain Padgett, a man who didn’t acknowledge her presence or existence upon their initial meeting. Padgett now needs her expertise to solve a crime, thereby validating Dr. Logan’s need for legitimacy.

We learn of this need through her words in a conversation.

“What annoyed her [Dr. Logan], however, was that Sherry accepted Lula as a black ambassador, but not a scientist.”

Dr. Logan has several degrees and fellowships conferred upon her from several universities – including a doctoral degree. Yet, she longs to be validated as a scientist by this young white woman who is her student.

While we, the reader, may not know the identity of the finger butcher, we know of the butcher’s character flaws, i.e., error of judgment, for it’s revealed through Dr. Logan and the cast of characters.

Dr. Lula and others, including a Hollywood production crew that have set up shop, exist in an atmosphere of patriarchy, bigotry, and hate, fall victim to their weakened egos, insecurities, inadequacy, inner demons, false pride, greed, jealousy. Then, they escape through drugs, theft, and seduction in the quest to deem themselves superior.

We see how far we’ll go to invalidate others through these characters while seeking validation and legitimacy.mardi-gras-1176483

These characters play a zero-sum game with rules so easy it’s child’s play.


Case-in-point, in this current political climate, a 7-year-old, Toby Smith from Arkansas, saw through this political game and exposed how our culture seeks to invalidate others to validate one’s supremacy.

Smith  to Sen. Tom Cotton:

“Donald Trump makes Mexicans not important to people who are in Arkansas who like Mexicans, like me, like my grandma,” Toby Smith (Town Hall meeting, Arkansas, February 22. 2017)

After reading “Severed,” 358 pages, unmasking the finger butcher didn’t come easy but solving the mystery of our society’s dysfunction was a cinch.  We humans, especially most Black Americans, are so busy looking for the ruling class to validate our existence. As a result, we leave the important stuff undone. Work that would provide a route to legitimacy and self-actualization.

Instead, like Dr. Logan, we do the bidding and work of the ruling class to seek validation which usually nets a pat on the head.

Fortunately for us readers, we’ve learned through our literature about the critical choice.  We know our characters can choose between the “good but hard path” or the “bad but easy one.” But, unfortunately, the latter always brings a tragic ending.


Although “Severed” is a crime thriller and an entertaining whodunit, I recommend it as a self-help book to readers who are seeking to get out of their own way to become their best by validating their own talent.

Often, we will seek validation from others to feel good about ourselves without recognizing the destruction that we leave in our wake.

We’ll leave our noble causes by the wayside to join in or something that isn’t worthy of our time just win the approval from someone who doesn’t matter.

“Severed” allows us to experience the ramifications of the decisions we make, especially when the means never justify the end.

“Severed” forces the reader to separate goals from motives and determine which goals serve the greater good and which serve the weakened ego.   The latter, we learn, always brings chaos, death, and destruction, whereas the former adds meaning to our lives and advances civilization.

Food for thought

“Bon Appètit!”

“Severed” is available on Amazon.  Visit the novelist VL Towler at SeveredaNovel dotcom.


Severed, a Novel | Synopsis

A sinister figure is disturbing the peace in the small college town of Nakadee, Louisiana. Chopped-off fingers are popping up at conspicuous locations, taunting police but hidden from residents. Meanwhile, the city is preparing to host and attend the city’s second-largest event to Mardi Gras, the annual Hot Sauce Festival.

The Police Department’s Head of Criminal Investigations Unit, Captain Nate Padgett, is determined not to lose jurisdiction of this case to the Feds. So he enlists the expertise of the town’s only Forensic Anthropologist, Lula Logan, Ph.D. He hopes she’ll determine if the fingers belong to the deceased or kidnapped victim.

Dr. Logan already has a lot on her plate:

  • lecturing at national conferences,
  • teaching at the local university,
  • working on her research project,

All while she’s extracting herself from a dead-end love affair with the CIU’s Junior Detective Devon Lemonde. Did I mention she’s also testing the waters of a budding romance with the republican congressman, U.S. Rep. Ambrose Girabeaux (R-LA), representing the Nakadee district?

Adding insult to injury, the Police Chief, Allouicious Broussard, who has political aspirations, wants the case closed immediately. Instead, officials are preparing to finalize a deal that will bring to town a multi-billion dollar natural gas pipeline project expected to run from Brazil.

There are quite a few characters in this mystery, but be advised not to get too attached. Some seem to serve to enliven the atmosphere to help the reader soak up the vibrant gumbo mix of French Creole-Cajun-African-Native Indian-European culture.

In the end, we learn that this small town may have more suspects than you have fingers on two hands.

Severed is a subtle crime thriller rich with allusion, innuendo, and clues. You must pay attention to detail while reading this novel. That is if you want to unmask the Unsub before the last page.

Severed, the novel is available on Amazon.

Novelist VL Towler’s website is at severedanoveldotcom