Landis Wade, the founder and host of the Charlotte Readers Podcast, is also the author of a new book titled Deadly Declarations: An Indie Retirement Mystery. The official launch date for the book is April 5, 2022, but I had the privilege and pleasure of being able to read an advance review copy.
Deadly Declarations is set in a fictional retirement community located in Charlotte. Three residents of the “Independence Retirement Community” join forces to solve a mystery related to the famous and controversial Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. In this fast-paced mystery novel, Landis completely demolishes the stereotypes associated with retirement communities. The protagonists in this novel are anything but retiring. They are feisty, independent, and fully engaged in the world around them. They take on a powerful law firm, a corrupt politician, and a secret society, and they prove that they are more than equal to the challenge. For readers of Deadly Declarations, the phrase “respect your elders” takes on a whole new meaning.
I recently contacted Landis and asked how he came to be so interested in the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence and why he decided to incorporate it in his mystery novel. Here is what he sent to me:
For many Charlotte residents, the story of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence is a tale of unknown Charlotte history hiding in plain sight. Although I grew up in Charlotte, I don’t recall the Meck Dec story being taught in public schools, and if someone told me when I was a boy that Charlotte was first to declare independence from Great Britain, it didn’t stick. As I got older, it never occurred to me to ask why the date May 20, 1775 appears on the North Carolina state flag or why some North Carolina license plates use the phrase: “First in Freedom.”
As a result of Charlotte Readers Podcast, the Meck Dec story came to life when I interviewed local author Scott Syfert about his book The First American Declaration of Independence? The Disputed History of the Mecklenburg Declaration of May 20, 1775. I learned that the Meck Dec story is full of drama and fraught with controversy. There are faithful believers and ardent non-believers who date back to the time of the founding fathers. John Adams was a true believer in what he called “one of the greatest curiosities and one of the deepest mysteries that ever occurred to me,” and Thomas Jefferson was insistent the Meck Dec was “spurious,” saying he “must remain an unbeliever in the apocryphal gospel.” Adams suggested that Jefferson lifted phrases from the Meck Dec for his July 4, 1776 Declaration of Independence, setting the stage for North Carolinians and Virginians to debate the veracity of the Meck Dec story to this day.
I became intrigued with the idea of solving the Meck Dec mystery through fiction, and it occurred to me that a plotline where the characters put the Meck Dec on trial in a Charlotte courtroom might be a fun and interesting way to get there. One of my goals was to write a contemporary mystery that got people talking about the Meck Dec, so I was thrilled when BookLife Review said of the novel: “it’s hard to tell where history ends and fiction begins.”
In the process of reading Deadly Declarations, I learned a lot about the history of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, but Landis incorporates this historical information so smoothly in his story that it never disrupts the entertaining plot. For readers who are familiar with the Charlotte area, another pleasure associated with reading this novel is recognizing the local landmarks that Landis includes in his novel. Among the Charlotte places that he mentions are Park Road Books, Green’s Lunch, and the Mecklenburg County Courthouse.
For readers who want to know more about Landis and his new novel, please click on the following link: https://landiswade.com/ For readers who would like to meet Landis and hear him talk about his new novel, he and Scott Syfert will talk about Deadly Declarations and the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence at Park Road Books on Thursday, April 7, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. Copies of his book will be available for purchase at this in-store event.
When Landis retired from his career as a trial lawyer in 2018, he redefined his life. He launched his Charlotte Readers Podcast, took numerous classes and workshops on writing fiction, wrote a series of three holiday-themed novellas, and set his sights on becoming a full-fledged mystery writer. With the publication of Deadly Declarations, Landis has more than achieved his goal. I hereby declare that there is a new mystery writer in Storied Charlotte, and his name is Landis Wade.