By:  Pat Austin

ishmaelSHREVEPORT — The summer reading season is almost upon us and it’s time to assemble your vacation reading stack.  If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to make a suggestion.  If you haven’t read Michael Henry’s books you need to add them to your list.

Author Michael Henry has his own wonderful style and a gift of the ability to create memorable ad quirky characters, but if you asked me to compare his writing to anyone on the market today I’d have to say he’s a cross between John Grisham and Michael Connelly.  Maybe some James Lee Burke, too.  His latest novel is reminiscent of John Ludlum or Dan Brown.  Well, with all that, let’s just say Mr. Henry has his own style which is reminiscent of some other really great authors!

Mr. Henry’s latest novel, Finding Ishmael, might be his best one yet.  I first started reading his books in 2010 with Three Bad Years (which remains my personal favorite) and I eagerly anticipated his next novel as soon as I finish reading one.  So far there have been seven!  (If you haven’t been reading him this means you have missed seven great novels!  There’s your summer reading right there!)

In Finding Ishmael we meet oilman Liam Connors who receives a mysterious letter from long lost fried Ike Palmer.  Ike, now in Jerusalem, says he has found an ancient document that will turn the political and religious landscape of the world upside down.  Ike, who says he’s had the document authenticated, needs Liam’s help to keep the document safe as he is under surveillance and, well, a little paranoid.  The document concerns Islam’s historic claim to the Promised Land through Ishmael, thus the title.  Of course Liam and his girlfriend Mimi get on a plane to see Ike although Mimi has some very real concerns.  Things unfold rapidly from there and that’s as much of the plot I will give you, but suffice to say, it’s an incredibly topical book right now and very intriguing.  Don’t start the book if you have something pressing to do because you won’t be able to put it down.

With Finding Ishmael, Mr. Henry deviates a bit from his first novels which are legal thrillers.  As a former DA in Natchitoches, Louisiana, Mr. Henry has the background for writing excellent courtroom drama.  He is also highly skilled in constructing dialogue and characters; many times I have found myself with the feeling that I know these characters personally.

Finding Ishmael is the first of Mr. Henry’s novels not set in the south; most of this novel takes place in Jerusalem and the characters are all well drawn and memorable.  Ike Palmer is as bizarre as any character you will find anywhere.  In Jerusalem, Liam is aided by an aide of Ike’s, Menachem, and the dialogue between Menachem and Liam is always engaging and often funny.  As the novel approaches its climax, the book is just impossible to put down.

While Mr. Henry has written six other books before and there are recurring characters in each, this novel can stand completely alone as it is the first that introduces Liam and Mimi.  The Willie Mitchell Banks series should probably be read in order, but that may just be my own particular fetish.

The subject matter of Mr. Henry’s latest book could not be more relevant to today’s headlines as the Middle East is in turmoil and our Secretary of State John Kerry continues to blunder and mismanage relations there.

I recommend starting with Finding Ishmael (because it’s so topical right now), and then go back to Three Bad Years and read through the rest.  Take it from an avid reader – you will not be sorry.  All the books are available either in paperback through Amazon or on Kindle.

Perfect summer reading!

 Pat Austin also blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

Gov. Pat Quinn,  (D) Illinois
Gov. Pat Quinn,
(D) Illinois

By John Ruberry

Governor Pat Quinn, a Chicago Democrat, has been mostly on the fringes of Illinois politics since the early 1970s. For most of that time he was a minor-league version of Ralph Nader, part consumer advocate, part self-appointed government reformer. Although Nader never held public office, Quinn was state treasurer for a term in the 1990s, and of course twice he was Rod Blagojevich’s running mate. Quinn succeeded Blago after the hair-brained pol was removed from office five years ago by the state Senate.

Last week was arguably Quinn’s worst as governor. An autumn 2010 anti-violence program, the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, was unveiled by Quinn as he faced a tough battle to win a full term as governor, is now being investigated by federal authorities and the Cook County State’s Attorney Office. The $54.5 million program has been exposed by the local media as a massive political slush fund to drive up the African American vote in Chicago and its inner suburbs so Quinn could win his election, which he did, barely. The Chicago Sun-Times revealed that the felon husband of Dorothy Brown, another Chicago Democrat, was paid nearly $150,000 in salary and benefits to oversee $2.1 million in NRI grants.

Quinn faces another scandal. A long time patronage-hiring foe, Michael Shakman, asked the federal government in a court motion to investigate hiring decisions at the Illinois Department of Transportation. He claims that Quinn is loading up IDOT with political hires.

Durbin said Quinn was a  ghost payroller
Durbin said Quinn was a ghost payroller

Speaking of political hires, Quinn was the patronage chief of early-1970s governor Dan Walker, who later went to prison for looting a savings and loan. And an authority no less than Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) accused Quinn of being a ghost-payroller under Walker.

Quinn’s former chief-of-staff, Jack Lavin, was once chief financial officer for Tony Rezko, one of Rod Blagojevich’s enablers who is best known in Illinois for being Barack Obama’s first political sponsor. Rezko is serving a prison sentence now.

Lavin also served under Blago.

Pat Quinn is as much of a reformer as I am an astronaut.

Disclosures: I knew Lavin quite well years ago while we were classmates at the University of Illinois. And the husband of Anita Alvarez, the Cook County State’s Attorney, is a friend of mine.

John Ruberry blogs regularly at Marathon Pundit.

Henry Hill: For a guy who moved all day long Paulie didn’t talk to people. With union problems or a beef in the numbers only the top guys spoke with Paulie about the problem. Everything was one-on-one. Paulie hated conferences. He didn’t want anyone hearing what he said or anyone listening to what he was being told.

Good Fellas 1990

For a very long time I’ve been telling people to be careful what they say or do on the net & via e-mail because what you say or do on the internet is said in public forever and for the rest of your life you will be judged on those acts /speech by family, friends, potential employers and the public (something that hockey fans in Boston apparently haven’t figured out).

As iPhones, google glasses and tablets have become common along with their ability to record & upload instantly the reality is that any public space or private party is essentially the internet and must  be treated accordingly.

One might consider this paranoid, but as a password is only as secure as the least careful person who knows it, any public space or private party with people is only as private as the least discreet & trustworthy person there  (I’m constantly amazed that bloggers & reporters are willing to go to parties at events where the only thing that outnumbers the smartphones is the booze).

With the Donald Sterling story, we have reached the final stage. You might think a billionaire would be smart enough to figure out that someone willing to be a “rent a companion” to a person old enough to be their grandfather might not be trustworthy but that’s really not the point.  The point is there is no such thing as a private conversation anyone, there is no such thing as a one on one.

It doesn’t matter if you are with friends, family or a lover, anything you say to another person is now effectively public.  God forbid you are in an argument with someone and say something you don’t really mean in a fit of pique because thanks to smart phones your words can be tweeted & posted before you’ve even realized you’ve said them.

This is where we are and if you assume that this will only be a danger to a person like a Donald Sterling with billions to syphon from, you’re wrong.  Plenty of people have agendas that are small compared to a Sterling but they are big to them and the people who know them..

This is the world we now live in and the price for the technology we enjoy.  Get used to it.

Final thought.  Were those old Sicilians like Paulie smart or what?


Olimometer 2.52

This blog exists as a full time endeavor thanks to your support.

The reporting, the commentary and the magnificent seven writers are all made possible because you, the reader choose to support it.

For a full month of all of what we provide ,we ask a fixed amount $1465, It is May 4th and we can make that goal is just two readers kick in $25 each day.

Help fund conservative speech, hit DaTipJar below.

Naturally once our monthly goal is made these solicitations will disappear till the next month but once we get 61 more subscribers  at $20 a month the goal will be covered for a full year and this pitch will disappear until 2015.

Consider the lineup you get for this price, in addition to my own work seven days a week you get John Ruberry (Marathon Pundit) and Pat Austin (And so it goes in Shreveport)  on Sunday  Linda Szugyi (No one of any import) on Monday  Tim Imholt on Tuesday,  AP Dillon (Lady Liberty1885) Thursdays, Pastor George Kelly Fridays,   Steve Eggleston on Saturdays with  Baldilocks (Tue & Sat)  and   Fausta  (Wed & Fri) of (Fausta Blog) twice a week.

If that’s not worth $20 a month I’d like to know what is?