Memorial Day

The genesis of this post started many years ago, and I tend to edit and revise it each year.  Maybe one day it will do justice to the day and those I remember on Memorial Day. Crossposted at Laughing WolfPunchBowl1Showweb

Foster Powers USN, KIA 1945

Foster Powers USN, KIA 1945

 

To the God in Man displayed -- Where'er we see that Birth, Be love and understanding paid As never yet on earth!

To the Spirit that moves in Man, On Whom all worlds depend, Be Glory since our world began And service to the end!

Final stanzas, The Choice, Rudyard Kipling

Let me start with the end, instead of the beginning.  I am not asking that we make Memorial Day somber and solemn, a thing without levity or fun.  I know none who have served who would want that, particularly those who did not come home.  We should enjoy the day and the weekend in their honor, so that they and the reason for this day are not forgotten.

Continue reading "Memorial Day" »


Book Reviews - "Slow Burn" & "The Innocents" by Ace Atkins

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9780399170850_p0_v1_s192x300Ace Atkins will have two books coming out in the next few months.  Slow Burn brings back Robert B. Parker’s character, private investigator Spenser, and his Quinn Colson series, The Innocents.  Coincidentally each book cover and plot has elements of fire.

Slow Burn
, published the first week in May, begins with a church on fire.  Spenser is hired to find out who is behind a series of fires that appear to be set intentionally. With the help of his trusted ally Hawk, his apprentice, Sixkill, and his psychologist girlfriend Susan it becomes apparent the trail of fires leads to Boston’s underworld. They must find the firebug before he kills again and destroys more property.

The Innocents will be published in July.  Sherriff Lillie Virgil enlists the former Sherriff Quinn Colson to help find Milly Jones’ killer.  Someone set her on fire and had her walk on a highway. 

9780399173943_p0_v1_s192x300Atkins was asked to compare the Spenser and Quinn Colson series.  He commented to blackfive.net, “All the stories are hero driven with themes of honor, respect, and tolerance. They are written stylistically different.” The Spenser stories are told through his eyes and voice, while the Quinn stories are about everyone in the one county.  The Quinn series has a continuing storyline, much like a long-term arc in a TV show.”

Both these plots are based on true stories.  Atkins explained, “They are taken from the headlines. With Slow Burn I found a string of arsons dealing with insurance fraud, which occurred in Boston a few decades ago.  However, after meeting with those in the Boston arson unit I was told it would never happen like that today because property is so valuable.  There is no money to be made in burning down a building.  I refigured the plot and came up with the idea of guys banding together to start these fires. “

Regarding the plot for The Innocents Atkins commented, “The story was inspired by true facts.  A young girl over a year ago was found walking down a highway while completely on fire.  There was a mystery surrounding the circumstances of her death.  Another character was based on a long time well respected football coach accused of some nasty stuff.  Because he was a pillar of the community no one spoke up even though they knew what was happening.”

The difference between the two series characters is that Quinn is a former Army Ranger.  Atkins definitely does his homework getting military figures as fact checkers.  “My good friend, retired US Army Colonel George Reynolds, steers me in the right direction.  He put me in touch with a young Ranger so I was able to learn about his experiences and training.  It was George who suggested Quinn not become a contractor, but work for the Defense Department.  My network of those assisting me, people in the military, has quadrupled.”

Readers will also find a difference in the themes of the two series.  The Spenser books are more action packed and the emphasis is on his character.  The other series is more a book about community, family, and a Southern town with emphasis on social issues, corruption, and power.

Both books have very well developed characters and plots that will keep the reader turning the pages.


Book Review - "The Wages of Sin" by Nancy Allen

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the books category link on the right side bar.

9780062438751_p0_v3_s192x300The Wages of Sin by Nancy Allen is the third book of the series that takes place in Southwest Missouri. It is not necessary to read the previous books to understand the plot and characters.  Readers will get a very good understanding of how personalities affect court proceedings.  The main issues explored are the death penalty, domestic violence, and child witnesses. 

The novel opens with a pregnant woman being beaten to death by her boyfriend who is high on drugs.  Because the eight-month-old baby also died the prosecution seeks the death penalty.  Readers will learn certain tidbits, such as the fact that Missouri’s State Constitution considers life beginning at conception.  Thus, the prosecution decided to seek justice for the eight-month-old baby rather than his drugged up mother.  Because of the horrific crime the death penalty is sought, making it evident that the testimony of the lone eyewitness, six-year-old Ivy, will be crucial.

Elsie Arnold, a prosecuting attorney in rural Barton City, McCown County, Missouri, wants to win the case to avenge the death of the mother and her unborn child. But as the trial nears, Elsie begins to harbor doubts about the death penalty itself. Allen explores how prosecutors must weigh the horrific crime versus the heavy burden of seeking someone’s death.

In addition, the author emphasizes how friendships can become detached over issues.  Elsie is “unfriended” by her fellow prosecutor Breeon over her view on the death penalty.  Instead of realizing people cannot agree on everything she becomes cold and distant, refusing to be there when needed by Elsie. 

Allen knows something about domestic abuse cases since she practiced law for fifteen years as Assistant Missouri Attorney General and Assistant Prosecutor in her native Ozarks. She's tried over thirty jury cases, including murder and sexual offenses. A quote from the book shows how women in the 1980s struggled to be accepted, “The necktie rule… they said no attorney could appear in court without a tie.”

Allen commented to blackfive.net, “After getting out of law school, I was the only woman prosecutor in Southwest Missouri.  I guess I was a little bit of a trailblazer in that day.  Women had to wear a uniform in court in the 1980s.  We wore floppy silk ties, kinda like the Girl Scout tie.  I had a little polka dot one and a little striped one.”

Regarding her female portrayals Allen feels there is a little of her in all the female characters.  “Elsie is a cross between that TV Show Beverly Hillbillies character Ellie May Clampett and Amy Schumer in the movie Train Wreck. She echoed who I was in my youth.  Being the only woman in the office I was thrown sex crime cases. Madeline, the County Prosecutor, Elsie’s boss, reflected my past experiences of having to confront, in the 1980s, the ‘good ol’ boys judicial club’ in Southwest Missouri.  Even Ivy, the six year old witness represented the child in all of us who tries to please authority figures.  Because I am a strong advocate of victim’s rights and have cut my teeth on child abuse cases I feel a bond with Ivy.  It is a fact that the Ozarks has the highest rate of sex crimes involving children in all of Missouri, and this state is one of the top in the nation.”

Allen also gave a heads up about her future book projects.  The next Elsie Arnold book has a standup member of a small town community charged with a crime.  Elsie must bring down a person who is at the top of the pinnacle in her community.  Allen is also co-authoring a legal thriller with James Patterson, entitled. Juror # 3.  It is a new series stated by Patterson that will be part of the Bookshots line. 

Anyone wanting to learn about legal issues and court procedures within a good story should read Allen’s books.  She brings her experience and knowledge to the page to make the plots and characters believable.


Book Review - "In the Arena" by Pete Hegseth

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the books category link on the right side bar.

9781476749341_p0_v2_s192x300In the Arena by Pete Hegseth will make readers think about what values are important to them.  His motivation for writing this book is taken from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech, “Citizenship In A Republic,” specifically the quote “Man In The Arena.” The address is used as a roadmap for addressing the massive challenges facing America today. The author channels Teddy Roosevelt’s thoughts into a call for action: to actually win wars fought, that Patriotism is not a bad word, America must have leadership abroad, and civic responsibility is important. 

Hegseth explained to blackfive.net how he stumbled upon the quote in college.  “I printed out a copy, framed it, and took it with me where I served.  It is a reminder to me about fighting for worthy causes.  I found it very motivating.  I think it is ‘un-PC’ before there was PC. Roosevelt’s beliefs can be applied today, what people are craving for:  a strong leader, strength, competiveness, and belief in America. It is a reminder to people why they love this country and a reflection on our founding father’s ideals. It is no accident Roosevelt is on Mount Rushmore with Washington, the leader in the fight for our independence; Jefferson, the writer of the Declaration of Independence; and Lincoln, the leader in the fight during the Civil War.  I would argue Roosevelt got this country off to a good start, that the 20th Century was America’s century.”

Roosevelt talked about the dangers of division in a Republic.

“They fell, and the prime factor in their fall was the fact that the parties tended to divide. Wide differences of opinion in matters of religious, political, and social belief must exist if conscience and intellect alike are not to be stunted.  The citizens of a republic should beware, and that is of the man who appeals to them to support him on the ground that he is hostile to other citizens of the republic, that he will secure for those who elect him, in one shape or another, profit at the expense of other citizens of the republic.”

To that end, Hegseth points out that Obama in 2008 spoke about the US not being a collection of individuals or red states and blue states, but today “we are more divided that ever. He has pitted rich against poor, black against white, those that don’t agree with his policies as war mongers, as he attempts to advance his fundamental transformation of America.”

Roosevelt also speaks about what today would be called the rules of engagement.  He literally talks about those who refer to themselves as “citizens of the world.”

“I believe that a man must be a good patriot.  Experience teaches us that the average man who protests that his international feeling swamps his national feeling, that he does not care for his country because he cares so much for mankind, in actual practice proves himself the foe of mankind.”

An infantry officer in the Army National Guard, he is a veteran of Iraq, Afghani­stan, and Guantanamo Bay who holds two Bronze Stars and a Combat Infantryman’s Badge for his time overseas.  As someone who served their country, Hegseth saw first hand how the rules of engagement have “become so burdensome, cumbersome, and legalistic that they restrict our war fighters on the battlefield.  Are we willing to untie the hands of our war fighters so they can actually fight Islamic extremists?  We worry more about oil truck drivers of ISIS who are called innocent civilians. Our trigger pullers cannot engage the enemy pre-emptively.  We cannot bow down if we want to defeat an enemy that uses civilians.  We have to be willing to get our hands dirty because of the shady tactics of our enemy.  What we are seeing now are the seeds of the sixties generation who have never seen America as a force for good and saw America as not special. The ability to defend ourselves is important to maintain our sovereignty.”

In The Arena is a special book as it invokes the words of Teddy Roosevelt and makes them relevant to today.  Hegseth takes the speech of Roosevelt and applies them to his 21st century beliefs. The author hopes that readers who believe in strength, leadership, and a good family structure will find this book informative, inspiring, and educational.


Book Review - "The Outliers" by Kimberly McCreight

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the books category link on the right side bar.

9780062359094_p0_v2_s192x300 (1)Outliers by Kimberly McCreight is the first in a series for young adults.  Having changed gears from writing mysteries for adults she still maintains, in the first part of the book, her ability to draw out the different relationships between characters, including the bond between a mother and daughter. The story went from a psychological thriller that focused on grief and friendship to a conspiracy theory mystery. 

McCreight noted to blackfive.net, “Writing a young adult mystery is not much different than writing an adult novel.  In my adult books I had killed teenagers so to be fair and balanced I killed an adult in this book.  I was a little more careful about putting in curse words although I did not make any compromises.”

The story follows, Wylie, a high school teenager who attempts to find her missing friend with the help of the friend’s boyfriend, Jasper. Cassie sends text clues that takes the pair into the wilds of Maine where they encounter unsavory cops, a seemingly harmless couple with an infant and Wylie’s dad’s former research assistant. When they finally reach Cassie, they realize nothing could have prepared them for the dangers ahead, and they learn that all of their problems are just beginning.

Wylie is sixteen and lives with her dad and twin brother Gideon in Boston, since her mother died in a supposed car accident four months earlier. She was broken up after her mother’s death. Her dad became over protective as Wylie’s anxiety progressed to the point she will not leave home. This anxiety disorder has Wylie panicking, and sometimes even passing out when too stressed.

Because McCreight also suffers from anxiety she wanted readers to understand the complexities that both the family and individual must face on a daily basis, and what triggers it.  The author commented, “I discovered that anxiety could draw out other emotions in people, such as making them more attuned. There are times when it can overtake someone’s life.”

Outliers is a story about the length someone will go for their friends. In the second half of the book, it takes a turn into a science fiction plot.  Although all the sub-plots had a conclusion, they lead into new questions that set up the next book in the series.


Book Review - "The Arm" by Jeff Passan

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9780062400369_p0_v4_s192x300The Arm by Jeff Passan, a lead writer for Yahoo Sports, is a must read for baseball fans, those interested in learning about pitchers, the Tommy John injury and surgery, as well as youth baseball coaches and parents. He explains how a tiny ligament in the elbow, the UCL, can snap, sending Little Leaguers and Major Leaguers to undergo surgery. In traveling the world he was able to interview with Sandy Koufax, Japanese pitchers, and Tommy John, the All-Star pitcher who underwent the surgery forty years ago to save his career. But the true heart of the book resides in the interwoven stories of Daniel Hudson and Todd Coffey, Major Leaguers whom Passan follows through UCL surgery and rehab.

Passan explains how in 1974 Dr. Frank Jobe rebuilt the left elbow of John, the Dodgers pitcher, in a revolutionary surgery that continues to give pitchers a second chance. He essentially made John a new ligament by taking a tendon from the wrist, drilling holes into the elbow. Readers will learn that about a quarter of pitchers at any given time on major league rosters have had Tommy John surgery. But a more frightening statistic is that more than half of Tommy John surgeries now occur with teenagers. He writes about a youth baseball tournament, where star 10-year-olds have their arms taxed in the name of victory, and in Japan where overuse of young pitchers also seems to be a chronic practice.

He told blackfive.net the book is a warning “for parents and coaches out there who don't quite understand that the amount of pitching you do as a child could significantly damage you for years to come. We should be stressing how to throw the ball properly, know how to place it, and to learn the mental side of pitching. Growth plates in children’s elbows don’t close until they are 15/16 years old. When they do reach this age they can take on more wear and tear. Dr. Jobe said not to throw a curve ball until you can shave. Remember when Dr. Frank Jobe did the surgery it was on a thirty year old pitcher to save his career. I cannot imagine he thought it would become the domain of children instead of adults. It is frightening how many parents push their children. I hope there is enough people out there that can shame these other parents and coaches. A parent’s job is to be realistic. A Japanese study that came out after the book was published said that 43% of 9 to 12 year olds had damage to their UCL and of those more than 60% were pitchers.”

But to humanize the story Passan followed two pitchers, Todd Coffey and Daniel Hudson. He spent time with them and their families as they went through the surgery, rehab, and their attempts to pitch again in the Major Leagues. It's a very good insight into the parts of baseball most people don't see, the personal lives of the players and how they cope with various setbacks in the course of their careers.

He commented to blackfive.net, “Todd Coffey, while a relief pitcher for the Dodgers in 2012, had a recurring elbow injury and underwent his second Tommy John surgery. He threw with a velocity about 95 to 96 mph. In 2015 he tried to play for the Mexican League and is currently in the Atlantic League. Because he was a reliever and does not throw now at 95 it became difficult to latch on with a team. They are afraid he would get hurt again and they would then be stuck with the medical expenses. Plus, they think it makes sense to go with a guy who has been in their own organization.”

Regarding Daniel Hudson, “He had Tommy John surgery in 2012 and another surgery in 2013. He is still pitching for the Diamondbacks and so far is having a great year. If he stays healthy he is setting himself up for a big payday. He looks good and says his arm feels great. I think Daniel is an inspirational story. I hope with him and Coffey readers will see what it is really like, that it is not easy and not fun with a lot of trials and tribulations.”

The Arm is a must read for all fans of baseball and parents who have children playing the sport. In tackling a massive and complicated subject, Passan finds ways to educate and warn about the UCL injury.


Book Review - "Blood Defense" by Marcia Clark

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9781503954007_p0_v1_s192x300Blood Defense by Marcia Clark is the first in a new series. While she is well known as the prosecutor of O. J. Simpson she has also become a bestselling author with the Rachel Knight series about a Los Angeles prosecutor. With Blood Defense she is changing gears, now writing about an ambitious and hard-charging criminal defense attorney. Although having each series main character polar opposites, readers will still enjoy the same writing style: sarcastic wit, believable characters, a great murder mystery, multi-layered plot twists, and an understanding of the nuances around a courtroom.

When asked if she would face the same obstacles today with the Simpson trial, Clark responded, “Racism, domestic violence, and sexism are still issues. They are still very much on the table. Would he get convicted today if tried? A lot would depend on the judge and the nature of the jury. There was a very bad ruling that allowed racial epithets to be introduced as evidence when there was no basis for it. Mark Fuhrman did not have any opportunity to plant the glove so it should not have mattered if he was a racist or not. If he could not have done it there is no relevance to bringing it in.”

Furthermore, she felt, “Race really skewed it. But the ultimate factors were a combination of race and celebrity. If he had not been famous and was just a regular guy who happened to be black he would have been convicted. If he had been a white guy who was famous he would have been convicted. This combination presented an unassailable obstacle that became clearer every day of the trial. We watched the jury fail to respond to anything we said, which was why the verdict was no surprise for us. The jury basically rejected us from day one. It was horrible.”

Although known as a prosecutor, Clark started her career in private practice as a defense attorney. She brings her past experience to the pages with an excellent insight. In describing the daily routine of a criminal lawyer she allows readers to understand how far someone could go in bending the rules. What is very interesting is the behind the scenes account of procedures, as well as the workings of the jail system, informants, and courtroom antics.

Her experiences helped her write about “the interesting moral and ethical wrinkles to riding the defense side because a defense attorney's goal is solely to defend the client. The prosecutor has to make sure that it's a fair trial; the defense has no obligation. I thought of what Fred Goldman told me about Ron being the second and forgotten victim, ‘what about Ron, it is not all about Nicole.’ I am sure this had something to do with me wanting to write the disparity and treatment between my characters Chloe and Paige. Yet, at the time I was writing this I was not thinking about Ron. My life experiences and case works creep into my books whether I am aware of the connection or not.”

The plot begins with criminal defense attorney, Samantha Brinkman, struggling to make a name for herself until she lands a “dream” case. It is a high profile double-murder case in which one of the victims is a beloved TV star, and the defendant is a decorated veteran LAPD detective. With the aid of her office manager, Michelle, and investigator Alex, Brinkman must use everything she has to spin the publicity. Already facing an uphill battle, she pulls out all the stops in her quest to uncover evidence that will clear the detective and his name.

Samantha and police detective Dale Pearson are very well developed characters. Readers will root for her to win the case and prove Dale’s innocence. As with Rachel Knight, Samantha is portrayed as a tough, spunky, and intelligent woman. But unlike Rachel, Samantha has a dark past that makes her vulnerable at times, and she will go to any lengths, including breaking rules she does not agree with, to win the case.

Blood Defense is a great suspense novel with a fun dose of humor and a lot of twists. Readers will enjoy learning more about Samantha as the series progresses. Anyone wanting a riveting murder mystery with realistic characters and an understanding of the routines of a defense attorney should read this book.


Book Review - "I Let You Go" by Clare Mackintosh

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right sidebar.

9781101987490_p0_v2_s192x300I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh is a very powerful debut novel. She grabs the reader with an intense and sensitive storyline and never lets go. The themes of emotional and physical abuse, atonement and forgiveness are explored in a gripping way. Added to that very human story is a terrific mystery element.

The plot is presented with an alternate narrative between Jenna Gray and the police investigators of a hit and run accident where a five-year-old boy, Jacob, is killed. The two detectives are attempting to find out who was responsible for the boy’s death. They're determined to do right by Jacob's mother and honor his memory by leaving no stone unturned. But this is a difficult case to solve: it was rainy and dark, and no one was able to figure out what kind of car hit him or see any noteworthy characteristics of the driver, basically leaving the detectives without any clues to follow. The main character, Jenna, disappears, attempting to make a fresh start in a small town on the Welsh coast. But she is haunted by her fears, her grief, and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.

As a former British police officer she was able to use her experiences to create the plot. She stated to blackfive.net, “Shortly after I joined the police there was the investigation of a real life hit and run accident. It stayed in my mind for years afterward. I found it very hard to understand how anyone could drive away from a dead child. That got me thinking, what were their reasons? Then about nine years ago one of my sons died of meningitis. He was a twin who was only five weeks old. I thought a lot about grief and the affect it has on someone’s life. It changes us and defines the choices we make within a relationship. Yet, I was very careful to make sure the story remained fictional.”

As Jenna attempts to move forward there is an abusive past pulling her back. Mackintosh writes these heart-wrenching scenes, allowing the reader to go through the same emotions as Jenna. What the author does beautifully during the first third of the book is to keep people guessing who Jenna is: the mother or the driver. She teases the reader with quotes, such as these:In a split second, Jenna Gray's world descends into a nightmare;” and “About running away because I couldn’t see any other way of surviving except starting over…screaming every night because I can never be free from what happened.”

The abuser, Ian, is pure evil and based on the many offenders Mackintosh dealt with while in the police force, “When I was in the police I was really affected by the many women who suffered abuse. The offenders had these alternate realities built for themselves. There are very few perpetrators who attempt to justify their behavior; yet, this odd behavior in abusers I found intriguing. What is frightening about domestic abuse is how slowly it builds. If you said to my character in hindsight, ‘you will be ostracized from your friends and family, will not be able to control your own money, and will be told what to wear,’ I don’t think she would go willingly into that relationship. What happens is that it creeps up so gradually and someone’s self esteem is broken down.”

It should come as no surprise that the story is very realistic with scenes about police activities. Mackintosh spent twelve years in the police force, including time on CID, and as a public order commander. She has investigated serious assault cases, worked with towns about crime prevention, and managed large public demonstrations. Her inside knowledge helps to create a believable, informative, and gripping story.

She noted, “My work experience helped in creating an authentic world. I had much less research to do in relation to investigations and how to authenticate the work police environment. It is a familiar world to me. The sound of feet on concrete and metal doors being shut is so familiar. I hope it added atmosphere.”

I Let You Go is a psychological thriller that the reader will not want to put down. The compelling characters and many twists will hook people from the very first page.


Book Review - "Poisonous" by Allison Brennan

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

9781250066848_p0_v3_s192x300Poisonous by Allison Brennan is a very powerful story.  The novel delves into very relevant issues from cyber bullying to social media’s role within people’s lives. The author makes a good point about how social media makes it easier for someone to say mean things without any repercussions. This intense plot also focuses on psychological issues involving a mentally challenged character and how family dynamics play into divorce.

The plot has a cyber bully, Ivy, falling off a cliff; was she pushed or was it accidental?  Maxine Revere, an investigative reporter that works on cold cases, is asked to find the truth about the fall. A mentally challenged eighteen year old, stepbrother to Ivy, is suspected by her mother of being the murderer.  Max sees immediately he is a gentle giant who loved his sister in spite of her cruelty that caused a peer to commit suicide.  With a huge list of suspects, Max must pursue the truth and allow justice to prevail. 

Being a mother of five, Brennan realized “I did not grow up with social media.  In the 1970s and 80s I could make mistakes and hopefully learn from them. I knew the stupid thing I did was not going to be around forever or go viral.  Today it is on the Internet for everybody to remember forever.  It comes down to our kids never being able to say or do anything they might regret, with the possibility their lives might be ruined forever.  Teenagers always make mistakes, which is why I love writing about them or young adults. My family has a rule now because of what happened a few years ago.  We had gone out to dinner and all my five kids were either on video games or texting on their phones.  ‘I said that’s it.’  I told them ‘keep it in your pocket or I will put it in my purse.’ After that when we went out to dinner once a month we were actually able to have a conversation.”

Brennan has a way of writing characters that readers care about. She allows people to feel certain emotions from the printed words.  What is done beautifully is how she has the readers rooting for Max to solve the case.  Not for the victim Ivy, but for Tommy. Ivy is seen as a “mean girl” that took joy in exposing her peers secrets and flaws through a gossip website. Tommy, a sweet and kind boy, is genuine, honest, and hoping to get his old life back.  

She noted to blackfive.net, “Parents also make inappropriate comments or are always texting.  One of my biggest pet peeves is when people “unfriend” you because of the way you think or the way you vote.  We can’t agree on every single issue.  With social media people can say things or be offensive because they can distance themselves.  Children emulate their parents.  I decided to write about bullying because of a local tragic case of a young boy killing himself after being bullied online.” 

While Max is still brash, outspoken, intelligent, independent, and tenacious, she is less impulsive, more sensitive, and is learning to not always say what she thinks.  Through her eyes, readers see Tommy as a heart-wrenching personality and cheer Max on for caring and wanting to protect him.  An interesting point made was the similarities in personalities between Max and two of the characters: Tommy and his stepbrother Austin.  Both Tommy and Max found lies devastating, wanting only to be told the truth, while Austin was protective, and unforgiving for the circumstances his parents placed him in. 

Poisonous has a fast paced plot. This fascinating story about dysfunctional families and relevant issues of today makes for a great read.


Book Review - "Tied Up In Knots" by Andrea Tantaros

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

9780062351869_p0_v2_s192x300Tied Up in Knots by Andrea Tantaros is the 21st Century’s version of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. Both are about understanding the opposite sex.  Tantaros argues relations between men and women in America have never been more dysfunctional while discussing the issues of intimacy, authenticity, kindness, respect, discretion, and above all commitment. Readers should know her as one of Fox News most informative commentators and a co-host of the show Outnumbered.

Both men and women need to read this book to get a fast check on relationships, how the sexes treat each other, and the responsibilities of society.  While reading the chapters people can relate to the author’s comments with current issues.  Blackfive.net had the privilege of interviewing her about her book and her opinions about today’s world.

Regarding the provocative cover, Tantaros said there has been no criticism and jokingly hopes that will continue.  “It is inspired by the Wonder Woman pose.  I hope people see how it symbolizes the modern female who is very powerful, but tied up in her own lasso of truth.”

It is not a “chicks book,” because men’s eyes will be opened about what is going on in the mind of a woman.  She noted, “I interviewed a lot of men and they kept talking about their frustration and confusion.  They can read this book and they will get a better understanding about how women think and issues important to the sexes. Even women do not understand the rules.  Are we capable, high functioning, responsible, women who can take care of ourselves and do not need special treatment? Or are we really the weaker sex, something women have fought against for decades. I give the early feminists credit in this book when they called for rightful equality.”

Where does rightful equality play into a woman’s role in the Special Forces Units?  Should the expectations be lowered for women to become SEALs or should they be allowed to try while keeping the current rules?  She predicted, “Just like the Rangers this administration will get women into the SEALs training and right before President Obama leaves office they will reveal a female in the graduating class.  The narrative will be they could do it even though the rules were changed.  I know a number of SEALs that say they will quit the brotherhood because of it.  Many people do not know that there are already women serving in the Special Forces, although not in combat.  These women are really upset with women’s rights groups who say we need women as SEALs, even though they are there, but in different roles.  These women feel forced to say ‘we are here and you just blew our cover to the world.’”

The book goes into a lot of detail about how women are sending mixed messages to men.  She writes of Girls actress Zosia Mamet comments in Marie Claire about the loss of romance and old-time dating rituals.  Mamet wrote, “Not that long ago a guy spent the night with me.  We went to breakfast the next day.  The check came.  I went to the bathroom, came back.  It was still there… Seeing my confusion, he said he didn’t want to offend me by paying on ‘my side of town’-So he’s thinking I’d be offended, and I’m thinking, if you’ve already Lewis-and-Clarked my body, maybe buy my oatmeal.”

Tantaros insists the struggles between the sexes are based on misconceptions. She pointed out to blackfive.net, “Liberal women knock stay at home moms and perpetuate single moms by insisting women do not need men.  I heard Jennifer Aniston say women don’t need men to have babies.  Ugh, technically I think we do.  There was also an article in the Washington Post written by a woman who said she was so tired of her helpful husband.  I thought, ‘are you kidding me.  Do you know how many women would kill to have a man around the house.’  I agree with Sheryl Sandberg who said in her book, Lean In, the most important thing a woman could do is to choose the right husband. Patti Stranger, the famous matchmaker, also echoes this thought when she said, ‘women, you cannot have your penis and eat it too.” The media completely ignored those messages because it was traditional and destroyed the theory of feminism, men are unnecessary.”

A very relevant issue she discussed in the book was the phrase, “playing like a girl,” considering the manager of the Toronto Blue Jays faced a backlash recently after saying players might have to “wear dresses” because umpires in a game enforced a new slide rule designed to take deliberate contact out of baseball. When asked about it, Tantaros noted, “I did not get offended.  We women do the same thing about men.  We need to lighten up.  I think playing like a girl should be embraced, and not to consider it a negative connotation.”

Tied Up in Knots is a shocking, funny, and honest narrative about today’s gender gaps.  It is insightful, informative, and relevant to what is happening currently in the world.  Anyone wanting a new relationship guide for the 21st Century should read this book.


Book Review - "Allegiance" by Kermit Roosevelt

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

9781941393307_p0_v1_s192x300Allegiance by Kermit Roosevelt is part mystery and part historical fiction.  Best-selling author Jeffery Deaver once said, “A thriller asks what is going to happen and a mystery asks what happened.”

The plot begins with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Caswell “Cash” Harrison was all set to drop out of law school and join the army until he flunked the physical. Instead, he’s given the opportunity to serve as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black. He and another clerk stumble onto a potentially huge conspiracy aimed at guiding the court’s interests. Then Cash’s colleague dies under mysterious circumstances, and the young, idealistic lawyer is determined to get at the truth.

Although the front cover displays pictures of Japanese American interned during WWII that places a very secondary role to the murder mystery.  Anyone picking up this book to learn more details about the shameful period in American history might be a bit disappointed.

What Roosevelt (Teddy’s great-great-grandson) does brilliantly is to allow the reader to understand what are the duties, attributions, and tribulations of a Supreme Court Justice. Being a professor of constitutional law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and having clerked for DC Circuit Judge Stephen F. Williams and Supreme Court Justice David Souter he allows these experiences to contribute to the storyline. The gathering of facts, writing of briefs and oral arguments before the court are described in meticulous detail. The author has included an extensive note at the end of the book pointing out where fact ends and fiction begins for each of the supporting characters mentioned in the story. This coupled with his use of actual transcripts, makes for informative reading.

There are appearances by many historical characters including J. Edgar Hoover and his number two man, Clyde Tolson, Hugo Black and Felix Frankfurter of the Supreme Court, Attorney General Biddle, and various members of the Department of Justice and Department of War. Readers will feel as the story progresses that they can get a glimpse into the world of Supreme Court Justices, specifically those mentioned above.  Roosevelt commented to blackfive.net, “I learned as much as I could about Justice Black.  After doing the research I came to admire these men, but realized they also had flaws. For example, Black did have clerks over to his house, cooked dinner for them, and played tennis with them.  In fact, the tennis scene in the book is based on the time I played tennis with Justice Scalia.”

Allegiance is a good read for anyone who wants to understand the relationship between a Supreme Court Justice and his clerk.  Within that there is a mystery and resolution.


Book Review - "War Hawk" by James Rollins and Grant Blackwood

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

9780062135278_p0_v2_s192x300War Hawk by James Rollins and Grant Blackwood is a thrilling novel.  This series is different than Rollins’ others in that it is more in the realm of complete believability and realism, with nothing far fetched.  In creating a realistic relationship the beloved characters of working dog Kane and his handler Tucker Wayne are brought back to life.

The plot begins when a former flame and army colleague, Jane Sabatello, asks Tucker for his help in finding those who want to kill her and have murdered her former co-workers.  Through his investigation he finds that an evil corporate CEO, Pruitt, is behind these killings and a global conspiracy.  He is using the knowledge of Alan Turing, the English code-breaker of the Nazis, to change the way modern warfare is fought.

Rollins noted to blackfive.net, “There is currently an arms race underway to develop new and improved robotic warriors, even those that can operate autonomously.  Basically, drones can be sent out to kill with little or no human involvement.  Will this mean that they make us more likely to go to war?  In the book Rex represents a drone that learns and can be beneficial.  But, what happens if it is able to go beyond our ability to control?”

Jane, a former Intelligence Analyst with the 75th Rangers, is now working for the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency).  She fits in perfectly with Tucker and Kane, where readers can regard them as “The Three Musketeers,” or as Jane refers to them, “the old gang is back together.”  She has a closeness to Kane and Tucker both personally and professionally.  They can be regarded as kindred spirits, all are tough, no nonsense, with a moral code; yet are also secretive and operate in the shadows. Through Jane and Tucker, Rollins explored the issue of “moral injury,” a new form of PTSD.  Both experienced serious inner conflicts because of a betrayal, which put them at odds with their ethical and moral beliefs. 

While working closely with USA Cares Rollins “first learned about ‘moral injury.’  It relates to the shattering of moral and ethical expectations.  Unfortunately, medication has no benefit and currently only therapy seems to work. It can manifest as shame, guilt, anxiety, and anger along with behavioral changes such as alienation, withdrawing, and possibly suicide.  I wanted the reader to have a better understanding of the causes and consequences of someone afflicted with this aspect of PTSD.”

Tucker’s betrayal, according to Rollins, is related to “his guilt about the war dog Abel.  He could have jumped off the helicopter and tried to rescue him, but did not.  He felt like he betrayed Able. He has been running away from these problems and has chosen not to face it.  Tucker has an old wound from losing his partner with the feeling that he had an arm cut off.  Both Jane and Tucker have been traumatized and these similar injuries help them find a way back to each other. I put more of this backstory in the book but cut it out.  I will probably put it in the next Tucker book.”

As with all Rollins’ books he explores the relationship between the partners, Kane, a Belgian Malinois, and Tucker.  It is evident that they are really best friends with a very special bond.  Both are willing to sacrifice their own life for each other.  Anyone who is a dog lover will relate to their relationship.  What makes it even more interesting is how Rollins writes what any dog owner does, putting thoughts of the canine into a humanistic form. 

The themes of the book are all centered around warfare. Using the springboard of Alan Turing’s work, the book explains how he laid the groundwork for the modern computer that led to drone warfare. Different aspects of warfare are examined, from insurrection to political coups, to the use of drones.  Will the new generation of battlefields be digital?  This information warfare, a digital house of cards, is three pronged: electronic jamming, infrastructure disruption through cyber attacks, and spreading misinformation by psychological operations. Beyond this is the consideration of who will control future drones, the military or corporations. 

Rollins noted, “We are now seeing the lines blurring between military forces and those armies being controlled by corporations. To save money and balance budgets, governments, are handing more and more military powers over to corporate boardrooms. I think this year as we see with Presidential candidates; we are seeing some pushback against that, which will hopefully continue.  If we shift our military responsibility to corporations there could be no interest to protect human life and their only concern is the bottom line of profitability.” 

War Hawk has a very intriguing story, including everything someone wants to know about drones, but was afraid to ask.  The relationships between characters are very well developed.  This is one of those novels that not only has a riveting plot, but is also informative and insightful with many different subject matters explored.


"No Survivors" - The Twenty-Second Anniversary of Eagle Flight

"They came to save us, and to give us dignity. Their sacrifice will remain in the minds of our children for the rest of their lives. We will teach their names to our children, and keep their names in our books of history as heroes who gave their lives for freedom." - Kurd Sheik Ahmet at the April 17th, 1994 memorial service in Zakhu, Iraq.

Today, is the 22nd anniversary of a dark day in our military history...while the inquiry results were weak, this was one incident in which many lessons were learned that later saved American and allied lives (true IFF came from this), and continued the long trek to freedom for one of the most deserving groups of human beings on this planet.

Let's start at what isn't quite the beginning but as good as any place to start this story...

In April, 1991, as part of U.N. Resolution 688, the National Command Authority commanded the US Armed Forces to conduct Operation Provide Comfort.  On the 8th of April 1991, the 1st Battalion (FWD) of the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) from Bad Tolz, Germany, deployed to conduct humanitarian relief operations for over a half million Kurdish refugees.  Soon the 2nd and 3rd Battalions arrived from the states.

From the 10th Group's history page (emphasis is mine):

...Operation PROVIDE COMFORT was one of the largest relief operations in history. During the critical first three weeks, the 10th Special Forces Group directed and executed the overall ground relief and security efforts. In the words of General Galvin, the CINCEUR "...10th Special Forces Group saved half a million Kurds from extinction."

The conditions in the refugee camps shocked the world. Before 10th Group arrived, an average of 450 refugees perished daily, with 70 percent being children. In two weeks time the rate was approximately 15-­20 per day and of these, only 28 percent were children. 10th Group had made the difference.

The basic operation was divided into three phases. Phase one provided immediate emergency relief with food, water and shelter. The intent was to make an accurate assessment of the situation and to organize Kurdish leadership. Phase two provided basic services. The ODA and ODB detachments performed many tasks and missions: pipe water from the mountains, organize food distribution and camp sanitation, service drop zones and landing zones, and coordinate with the multi­national relief organizations. Additionally, they assisted in rendering medical treatment for the refugees. Phase three prepared and moved the refugees from their mountain camps into resettlement camps in Iraq or straight back to their own homes. Way­stations built by 10th SFG(A), provided food, water and fuel, and limited medical help enroute...

As the video below shows, it was really about saving the families and the children:
 

The mission was a tough one - to provide humanitarian aid to over one million Kurdish Refugees in northern Iraq. The mission began with airdrops (food, clothing, tents, blankets, medicine) and soon launched missions taking supplies directly to the Kurds.

Providecomfortblackhawkvillage

A UH-60A Black Hawk (Blackhawk) helicopter flies over a small village in the Kurdish occupied security zone in northern Iraq. The helicopters and the crews from C Company 6/159th Aviation Regiment, Geibelstadt, Germany, are deployed to Diyarbakir, Turkey, in support of the operation Provide Comfort. (DoD photo by: SSGT. THEODORE J. KONIARES Date Shot: 1993-11-17).

To further stop Saddam from killing the Kurds, a northern No-Fly Zone was placed north of the 36th parallel. Any Iraqi aircraft would be shot down in the No-Fly Zone.

Iraq_no_fly_zones Photo from CIA Factbook

The No-Fly Zone was patrolled and kept "clean" by the USAF with fighters (F-15s) being supported by command and control aircraft (AWACS).

General John Shalikashvili, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had this to say about the hard work of the Provide Comfort Soldiers and Airmen:

For over 1,000 days, the pilots and crews assigned to Operation Provide Comfort flew mission after mission, totalling over 50,000 hours...

The mission continued for 3 years until the first Commander was due to reliquish command...

On April 14th, 1994, two Blackhawk helicopters were ready for take-off from Diyarbakir, Turkey. COL Jerry Thompson - one of the most respected officers and commanders in Special Forces - was changing command (or co-command as "command" of Provide Comfort was shared with Turkey). He decided to show his replacement, COL Mulhern, the lay of the land. At 0730, COL Thompson assembled 26 people that comprised important (command group) roles for the mission. He included French, British, and Turkish commanders and liaisons, and also brought along Kurdish para-military personnel and linguists.

The two Blackhawks were designated Eagle-1 and Eagle-2. Their first destination was Irbil, Iraq, but they would have to make a stop in Zakhu, Iraq (where the military part of Provide Comfort operated). There were plans to visit several other areas as well.

At 8:22AM, Eagle Flight departed Diyarbakir. They were headed East-Southeast for a "gate" into the No-Fly Zone. Per Standard Operating Procedure, the command group was split between Eagle-1 and Eagle-2 to ensure continuity of command if one helicopter went down.

At 9:21AM, Eagle Flight called the AWACS (callsign "Cougar"). They requested and were granted permission to enter the "gate" into the the No-Fly Zone.

At 9:24AM, Eagle Flight lands at Zakhu, Iraq.

At 9:35AM, two USAF F-15 fighters launched from Incirlik, Turkey. They were designated Tiger-1 and Tiger-2. Tiger-1 was the lead fighter with Tiger-2 as the wingman. Tiger Flight was headed to patrol the No-Fly Zone.

At 9:54AM, Eagle Flight calls the AWACS to report departure from Zakhu, Iraq, with a destination of Irbil, Iraq.

At 10:12AM, Eagle Flight enters mountainous terrain. It's Identification Friend or Foe system (IFF) failed.

At 10:20AM Tiger Flight passes through "gate" into No-Fly Zone.

At 10:22AM Tiger Flight picks up radar contact at forty nautical miles. No IFF reading occurs. Tiger-1 reports, "Cougar, picked up helicopter tracking northwest bound." AWACS says the area should be "clean".

At 10:25 AWACS responds that there are "hits there" in the No-Fly Zone - confirming Tiger Flight's radar contact.

Tiger Flight makes visual contact with Eagle Flight at five nautical miles.

At 10:28 Tiger-1 conducts a visual identification (VID) pass of the helicopters. "Cougar, tally 2 HINDS."

HINDS are Soviet Helicopters used by the Iraqi Armed Forces.

AWACS replied, "Copy two HINDS".

Tiger-1 then instructed Tiger-2 to make a VID pass.

Thirty seconds later Tiger-2 confirms, "Tally 2."

Tiger-1 to Tiger-2, "Arm hot."

At 10:30AM on April 14, 1994, Tiger-1 fired an AIM 120 (medium range air-to-air missle) at Eagle-2. Tiger-2 fired an AIM 9 (Sidewinder air-to-air missle) at Eagle-1.

The missles hit Eagle Flight with deadly accuracy. Tiger-1 confirmed the hits to AWACS, "Splash two HINDS."

Of the 26 team members of Eagle Flight, there were no survivors...

In memoriam:

US Military:
SSG Paul Barclay (SF Commo NCO)
SPC Cornelius A. Bass (Eagle-1 Door Gunner)
SPC Jeffrey C. Colbert (Eagle-1 Crew Chief)
SPC Mark A. Ellner (Eagle-2 Door Gunner)
CW2 John W. Garrett, Jr. (Eagle-1 Pilot)
CW2 Michael A. Hall (Eagle-2 Pilot Command)
SFC Benjamin T. Hodge (Linguist)
CPT Patrick M. McKenna (Eagle-1 Pilot Command)
WO1 Erik S. Mounsey (Eagle-2 Pilot)
COL Richard A. Mulhern (Incoming Co-Commander)
1LT Laurie A. Piper (USAF, Intel Officer)
SGT Michael S. Robinson (Eagle-2 Crew Chief)
SSG Ricky L. Robinson (SF Medic)
Ms. Barbara L. Schell (State Dept. Political Advisor)
COL Jerald L. Thompson (Outgoing Co-Commander)

British Military:
MAJ Harry Shapland (Security/Intel Duty Officer)
LTC Jonathan C. Swann (Senior UK Officer)

French Military:
LTC Guy Demetz (Senior French Officer)

Turkish Army:
COL Hikmet Alp (Co-Commander)
LT Ceyhun Civas (Laison Officer)
LT Barlas Gultepe (Liason Officer)

Kurdish Partisans:
Abdulsatur Arab
Ghandi Hussein
Bader Mikho
Ahmad Mohammed
Salid Said (Linguist)

787px-1994BlackHawkShootdownWreckage

USAF Photo: U.S. Military personnel inspect the wreckage of a Black Hawk helicopter (Eagle 2) in the Northern Iraq No Fly Zone during Operation Provide Comfort, April 16, 1994.

 

800px-BlackHawkIncidentCasualtyArrival

DoD photo MSGT MICHAEL J. HAGGERTY: The remains of 26 people were flown in for transportation to the U.S. Army Mortuary Center, Frankfurt, Germany. The 26 were killed in an accidental downing of two U.S. Army UH-60A Black Hawk (Blackhawk) helicopters by U.S. AIr Force F-15C fighters in the northern Iraq "no fly zone". Standing in review was the Rhein-Main-Air Base color guard, they displayed the flags of the countries that mourn the loss of their citizens, the United States, Britain, France and Turkey.

 

Thompson

I took this photo while visiting the Colonel (his story is an interesting one).  He's near Mary Todd Lincoln's tomb on a slight rise over looking a beautiful part of Arlington...You can visit him and Barclay, Hodge and Bass at Arlington.

Continue reading ""No Survivors" - The Twenty-Second Anniversary of Eagle Flight" »


Book Review - "Lost Among the Living" by Simone St. James

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right sidebar.

9780451476197_p0_v1_s192x300Lost Among The Living by Simone St. James is a haunting story.  As with her previous books the plot takes place in England during the 1920s and examines the challenges brought upon to those living in the post World War I era.  The novel is a great combination of many genres, a riveting historical fiction intertwined with a murder mystery and a touch of the paranormal. 

Both fans of gothic stories and non-fans can enjoy this book.  The plot has several factors that the gothic genre is known for, including a haunted house, a ghost with something to say, an independent, isolated heroine, and family secrets.  Yet, the gothic portion does not dominate, allowing the reader to delve into the mystery and characters without being hit over the head by the ghostly presence.  From the very first chapter people will be engaged with the characters and storyline.

The plot begins with Jo and Alex knowing from their first date it was love at first sight.  They had a blissful marriage until the outbreak of World War I.  Jo is notified that Alex is missing in action, leaving her status in limbo.  She is neither a married woman nor a widow and is not entitled to any benefits.  Her grief is compounded by having to put her insane mother in a private mental institution. In need of money she accepts Alex aunt’s proposal to be a traveling companion and later a secretary at Dottie’s Wych Elm House.  It is there that Jo feels the presence of Dotti’s daughter Fran who supposedly committed suicide.  Jo starts to believe that Fran might have been murdered as she unravels clues provided by an unknown force. 

Because World War I had such an impact, even with its aftermath, St. James commented to blackfive.net, “We have the image of the 1920s as everything being fun and everyone was partying, yet World War I was devastating to that generation.  I touch on the concept of mental illness in most of my books as a recurring theme.  This ties back to the gothic novel. Back then there were harsh reactions with no understanding of what people have gone through.  There was no desire to help them.  In my third book I wrote about an insane asylum where men who fought in World War I and had PTSD were put away.”

She also wants the reader to feel for those who have someone missing in action, noting, “I liked the quote, ‘trapped in amber,’ because she was not a widow or a married woman.  I also put in the quote, ‘Women don’t have a great many choices in such a situation.’  In those days a woman had very limited options.” 

The characters are well developed.  Jo’s situation as the wife of an MIA is explored brilliantly, reminding the reader how the family is affected by having someone disappear during combat.  Although living a hard life Jo never gives up.  She is courageous, brave, intelligent, and resourceful. Aunt Dottie, although grim, demanding and materialistic, is also practical, compassionate, and helpful.  Through flashbacks and memories Alex is seen as caring, smart, and heroic. 

Readers will not only enjoy the suspense of the story but will learn some facts of the times including how women were treated, the creation of of MI5, and society’s view of those who have gone “mad.”

If readers wonder about the British spy details, St. James told blackfive.net, “All true.  The MI5 archives were opened up in the last twenty years or so.  Since then, there have been several histories.  I read some books about the British spy agency and put that information into this book.  Before World War I there was a worry that the Germans would invade England.  They needed people to help spy for them and report back.  Since there was no training they were on their own and reported back by writing letters.” 

Lost Among The Living is a very interesting read that has the reader glued to the pages.  The blending of different genres makes the story even more interesting.

 


Book Review - "The Girl in the Glass" by James Hayman

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category in the right sidebar.

9780062435163_p0_v3_s192x300The Girl In The Glass by James Hayman is a mystery based on two time periods. These copycat murders take place in 1904 and 2012, creating an intriguing premise. The crimes are identical in every way with a time span of 108 years.

Because the book delves into the rich society, Hayman hopes the readers “understand this sense of privilege.  The attitude being, ‘whatever I want I can have, no matter who it hurts.’ Fitzgerald said, ‘The very rich is very different than you and I,’ and Hemingway joked about that statement, ‘yeah, they have more money.’ My modern day character is the ultimate bad rich girl who uses brains and beauty to get what she wants.”

The plot has two women stabbed to death, about a century apart, on the same remote island near Maine’s coastline, left for dead with the letter “A” carved into their chest.  Detectives Mike McCabe and Maggie Savage are assigned to bring the modern day killer quickly to justice. But the key to solving the murder appears to have been buried with her ancestor who was killed in a similar manner. Readers might think of the legendary novel, The Scarlett Letter, where a woman found guilty of adultery had an “A” pinned to her clothing.  However, that is where the similarities stop.  With this book, the cases have a number of suspects, each with their own motives. These two stories include a lot of broken marriages, complex families, and parental love where jealousy and sibling rivalry are the norm.

Hayman commented to blackfive.net, “McCabe is my alter ego.  We are both New Yorkers, city guys with our women talented artists.  We both have daughters who we love. We share the same values.  When I write him it is as if I am putting myself into whatever position he is in.  Anyone who has read all the books would know me very well if they understand the McCabe character. The people I spend the most time with are my imaginary friends.”

As with most of Hayman’s books he is able to masterfully portray the misty, coastal atmosphere of Maine.  The islands are described in such a way the readers can close their eyes and feel they are transported there with the rocky high cliffs surrounded by rough seas that have dangerous shorelines.  The Maine coast and Portland in particular with its maritime history provide a unique backdrop for a book like The Girl in the Glass. Hayman regards Portland Maine as “the perfect setting for a suspense thriller series.  It is a hip little city with a police department big enough to have specialties; yet, small enough so they know each other and can interact together.”

This latest McCabe/Savage thriller has a great setting and characters.  The setting blends into the mystery perfectly.