Two Shades of Vice: Dewey Reynolds's Long Strange Trip
Author Dewey Reynolds has loved writing since he was a teenager. After beginning to really delve into the craft in high school and college, he realized he wanted to be a published author.
He began with writing fiction, including his fantastical series, the "Stuart Duffelmeyer" trilogy, and the serial-killer focused crime thriller, "Brush Creek Charlie." However, it is Reynolds's first work of non-fiction, "Two Shades of Vice," where he is now getting the chance to tell his most important story.
"This book tells the story of my parents' life in crime," Reynolds elaborates. "I decided to research my biological family, after having grown up in foster care for fifteen and a half years." Reynolds went to family services to find out if there was documentation of his birth parents. He ultimately discovered that he had been born to an Irish-American father, and an African-American mother. As it was the 1960s, their relationship itself was considered a crime, on account of anti-miscegenation laws that banned interracial relationships.
However, after going to the Kansas City Police Department to research their records, Reynolds also discovered that his parents were involved in organized crime. "I never knew about this when I was in foster care," Reynolds muses. "The police helped me do research, pulling up rap sheets and criminal information on their backgrounds. Their story was unusual - even their relationship was like Sinatra sang, doing things their own way."
With the more research Reynolds did, and the more people he spoke to, he realized it would have been a shame not to tell his parents' story. He was even able to obtain eyewitness accounts from people on the streets, who knew family members from both sides. His mother and father were involved with creating bootleg whiskey, selling contraband, drugs, and engaging in prostitution.
Reynolds was also surprised to learn how involved his father was with Italian gangsters in the Mafia, despite his being an Irish-American. While not a full member of the Mafia, as an associate they counted on Reynolds' father to carry out robberies, hijackings, and other such tasks. "When my father's name surfaced alongside so many famous mobsters in the police reports, I was shocked," Reynolds states. "He was a man who had a violent temper and extensive criminal record. I needed to learn, 'Who was this guy?' It really blew me away."
While "Two Shades of Vice" focuses primarily on their criminal lives, there are also sections that detail the more personal aspects of Reynolds's parents' relationship, i.e. what it was like with their families and children, the dangers they faced as a couple because of racism, and the dangers they faced as parents.
Reynolds goes on to explain that he and his siblings were ultimately put into foster care for their own protection. "My father was bringing home prostitutes and selling bootleg whiskey, wine, and cigarettes, really putting the little children in the house in danger," Reynolds reflects. "That's the main reason why myself, at six months old, and my four-year-old half-sister, and seven-year-old half-brother, were put into foster care.
When my parents felt our safety was at risk, they thought the best thing for us was to take us somewhere where they could drop us off, and never come back."
Because of their lives in crime, as well as for the protection of the children, Reynolds' parents made the heartbreaking decision to give up their children to the foster care system. Despite not getting to know his parents as well as he would have liked in life, Reynolds has immortalized them in this heartfelt biographical work.
At the age of thirteen, he had the opportunity to meet his parents. His father was ill, and passed shortly after their meeting. From meeting him and through his research, Reynolds learned that his father had several children from different women.
Fortunately, he was able to include a photo of one of his father's previous wives in the book. He is still holding onto hope that one day, he will be able to connect with and meet paternal other half-siblings.
Throughout this journey in writing "Two Shades of Vice," Reynolds learned a great deal not only about his own lineage, but about the history of Kansas City. He found out fascinating facts about the time period and the city's underbelly of crime, uncovering many details he never expected to through his research via the police department and also the library.
Reynolds is very proud of the book he has written, as there is nothing else like it out there. "I've done a lot of reading about different subjects, but never read a story about an interracial couple in the 1960s, who were in love, and also involved in crime," Reynolds ponders. "I felt as if my parents spoke to me from beyond the grave, to help me tell their story." He is looking forward to readers enjoying the book, and being able to relate to the pathos, excitement, romance, and history told in this story.
Writing this book has been well worth Reynolds's journey, and all the time he has put into it.
Reynolds's plans for the future are largely focused on promoting "Two Shades of Vice," in addition to moving forward with the series. He is excited to be working on the book's sequel, focusing on his fifteen and a half years living in one particular foster home.
"Two Shades of Vice' is a very exciting book, and I think the follow-up will be an exciting book, too," Reynolds beams. "It will be a very interesting read for a lot of people."
To learn more, visit: www.DeweyReynoldsBooks.com.
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