Everything you need to understand or teach A Toast Before Dying by Grace F. Edwards.
Mali Anderson, a former African-American police officer, now a student studying sociology, is asked to investigate a murder for which a friend has been arrested. Since Mali knows Harlem well and still has police connections, she agrees to help find the real murderer of Thea, a former beauty queen who worked in a popular bar prior to her death. Before the murder can be solved, two more murders take place and Mali finds her own life in danger. Her love relationship with a NYC police officer adds intrigue and romance to the plot in this adult mystery novel which will appeal to the older adolescent reader.