by baldilocks

 

Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? And it should. Many famous people have died this year, some from old age, some from long-term conditions , some from freak accidents, and of course drug overdoses. Most heart-wrenching and thought-provoking were the deaths of mother-and-daughter superstars, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, within 24 hours of each other. But there were some non-famous deaths as well this year, including the mother of my Kenyan siblings, Jeniffer Dawa Ochieng (spelling correct).

The Truth is that most famous persons are famous for a reason. They accomplished something, if only to make a bunch of people laugh, cry, or tap their feet, making them a lot more useful than many. And many of the non-famous, like Jeniffer Ochieng, accomplished even greater things— being a loving wife, mother and grandmother, for example.

Another truth is that we all have to leave this existence; we all have to die. But what do we do in the interim? Live the best lives we can and count our blessing. For example, a friend who works for an airline gave me a ticket so that I was able to be with my American parents for Christmas. It was a great blessing indeed. (My American parents are in good health, but they aren’t getting any younger and neither am I.)

And after I returned to Los Angeles, I got thinking about my three parents, how happy I am to have hugged each of them this year, and what I can do to make them more proud of me. I found an answer.

In my tagline here at Da Tech Guy, I have been promising to finish my second novel, Arlen’s Harem—first in 2014, then in 2015, then this year. Well, I’ve decided to make a New Year’s Resolution to finish it not just next year, but on February 1st of next year. It’s what I’m going to do, hook or crook.

And if I die before I start my third novel, at least I can say to God that I stepped out in faith and invested the talents that He gave me.

What are you going to do in 2017?

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done on February 1, 2017! Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism!

baldilocks

In the Bill James Baseball abstract he tell the story of a young pitcher who claimed he could strike out Ty Cobb any time any where on three pitches and told the manager of Detroit that it would only cost train fare to see him do it.

Figuring you never know the manager sent the fare and the kid got on the mound and pitched to Cobb. Cobb murdered every single pitch the kid threw and suggested to the manager that they keep the kid around to help keep him in a groove.

That’s what I thought of when I saw this at Glenn Reynolds site today

Hey maybe if Simon and Schuster can get Jack and the staff of the Chicago Review of Books to ban and boycott more of their authors their stock prices will go through the roof.

Then some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those with evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” When the seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish high priest, tried to do this, the evil spirit said to them in reply, “Jesus I recognize, Paul I know, but who are you?”

The person with the evil spirit then sprang at them and subdued them all. He so overpowered them that they fled naked and wounded from that house.

Acts of the Apostles 19:13-16

As you might have heard Simon & Schuster gave a big book deal to Milo Yiannopoulos

Milo Yiannopoulos has parlayed his ban from Twitter  — and some controversial appearances on college campuses and cable TV shows — into a $250,000 book deal with Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, The Hollywood Reporter learned on Thursday.

“They said banning me from Twitter would finish me off. Just as I predicted, the opposite has happened,” Yiannopoulos told THR, confirming the upcoming book without commenting on financial details.

Liberals aren’t happy and the virtuous folks at the Chicago Review of Books aren’t taking it lying down.

If you are a person who only casually follows the news, this might sound like a big deal, but folks who deal in the world of reality like Milo and Simon Schuster realize that this Twitchy post notwithstanding their courageous stand isn’t about shutting down Milo or punishing Simon & Schuster, it’s a desperate attempt to be noticed.

Let’s put it this way. Here is the Twitter page of he Chicago Review of Books at 12:07 AM EST on Dec 30th 2016 10 hours or so after their courageous tweet

Now there are two things that jump out at me here that any experienced twitter user will notice right off the top.

1. They follow more people than they have followers meaning they aren’t very popular.

2. They only have 4200 twitter followers and that’s 10 hours after their most famous tweet drew over 8000 likes.

Now let’s contrast that with Instapundit a site whose twitter feed is almost certainly going to promote Milo’s book

As you can see Glenn has over 74,000 followers and follows less people than the review of books has followers.  Clearly that statement in Professor Reynolds pinned tweet about not needing twitter applies to him but can’t apply to the Chicago Review of books.

“But DaTechguy”, you ask.  Isn’t that a tad unfair, Glenn is a big name, why don’t you compare it with someone smaller, OK let’s compare them to my own Twitter numbers.

The Chicago Review of books can take comfort in the fact that they have nearly but not quite 200 more followers on twitter than me, and that even if you add my followers on Gab which I joined last month

they still edge me.  However given that I have made absolutely no effort to solicit followers on twitter  other than one button on my web site since I joined (nor have I on Gab in the month or so I’ve been there) that feat seems much less impressive.

But that’s just twitter, and Milo’s banned from that.  Surely both Milo and Simon & Schuster must be worried about the drop in web traffic from the Chicago Review of Books web site if they boycott them in 2017?  That is they would if they didn’t bother to go to Alexa and check their rankings like I did.

Apparently not only has their traffic dropped like a rock over the last few months but they’ve only recently broken into the top 2,000,000 sites worldwide.  Now compare that again to Instapundit which is the biggest part of PJ media which Alexa measures.

You’re talking a top 7500 worldwide and top 2000 US site vs a top 2 mil site worldwide.  And remember multiple PJ media writers are almost certainly going to be reviewing milo’s book.

I’ll wager Simon & Schuster is shaking in their boots, but if you’re griping that it’s not a fair graphic because PJ media has multiple web pages, fine, let’s compare them to this site right here.

While we are no instapundit those figures aren’t bad for a blog based in Fitchburg Massachusetts a city of 45,000 whose only international notoriety is for being the home of the fictional Fitchburg Finches from the Harry Potter books particularly when compared to a site based in Chicago Illinois home of the World Champion Chicago Cubs and one of the most famous cities in the entire world.

In other words if I hired a blogger to review one Simon & Schuster book a month it would likely send them more traffic than a year’s worth of plugs from the Chicago Review of Books.

That’s why Simon & Schuster isn’t going to worry about this “boycott” because, while it’s likely true that the folks at the Chicago Review of Books hate Milo and are both outraged and jealous of his big book deal, they know this “boycott” of them is more about trying to make The Chicago Review of Books relevant than to take a stand against Simon & Schuster.  Or let’s put it another way:

Given our relative traffic ratings The Chicago Review of Books web site is likely to get more traffic from this blog post than from anything they will write themselves next year.

It’s not virtue signaling, it’s just signaling desperately.

Closing thought:  Anyone want to make book at which MSM will pick up this story, see the words “Chicago Review of Books” and  breathlessly reporting this “boycott” without bothering to check the stats?

Update: Bazinga!


Speaking of stats with two days left to the year we are at $8923 toward our TipJar goal of $22,000 for 2016.  With 2 days to go the odds of us picking up the remaining $13,077 are rather tiny.

However it is entirely possible that we can get manage $1,077 to finish the year in five figures and if somehow we managed to raise $2077 and make it to $11,000 I promise to hire one more blogger specifically to review at least one Simon & Schuster book every month just to drive the Chicago Review of Books people crazy.

So if you’d like to help support independent non MSM journalism and opinion from writers all over the nation like Baldilocks, RH, Fausta, JD Rucker Christopher Harper, Pat Austin, and John Ruberry plus several monthly & part time writers working here and want to help pay their monthly wages (and the Cartoonist I’m looking to hire, details here) please consider hitting DaTipJar.




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I have greatly enjoyed over the years Andrew Klavan’s columns and videos, first at PJMedia and now at the Daily Wire. He podcasts Monday-through-Thursday at the Daily Wire, leaving us with “Klavanless weekends,” as he calls them.

Klavan is witty, smart, quick and funny, and great to listen to. I knew he also wrote books, but never got around to reading one.

It is a distinct pleasure, then, to discover Andrew Klavan’s excellent memoir, The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ, which I decided to read after watching his interview with Ben Shapiro during one of their podcasts.

The book blurb tells you,

Edgar Award-winner and internationally bestselling novelist tells of his improbable conversion from agnostic Jewish-intellectual to baptized Christian and of the books that led him there.

“Had I stumbled on the hallelujah truth, or just gone mad—or, that is, had I gone mad again?”

No one was more surprised than Andrew Klavan when, at the age of fifty, he found himself about to be baptized. Best known for his hard-boiled, white-knuckle thrillers and for the movies made from them—among them True Crime (directed by Clint Eastwood) and Don’t Say a Word (starring Michael Douglas)—Klavan was born in a suburban Jewish enclave outside New York City. He left the faith of his childhood behind to live most of his life as an agnostic in the secular, sophisticated atmosphere of New York, London, and Los Angeles. But his lifelong quest for truth—in his life and in his work—was leading him to a place he never expected.Edgar Award-winner and internationally bestselling novelist tells of his improbable conversion from agnostic Jewish-intellectual to baptized Christian and of the books that led him there. “Had I stumbled on the hallelujah truth, or just gone mad—or, that is, had I gone mad again?” No one was more surprised than Andrew Klavan when, at the age of fifty, he found himself about to be baptized. Best known for his hard-boiled, white-knuckle thrillers and for the movies made from them—among them True Crime (directed by Clint Eastwood) and Don’t Say a Word (starring Michael Douglas)—Klavan was born in a suburban Jewish enclave outside New York City. He left the faith of his childhood behind to live most of his life as an agnostic in the secular, sophisticated atmosphere of New York, London, and Los Angeles. But his lifelong quest for truth—in his life and in his work—was leading him to a place he never expected.

That’s well and good, and interesting, of course, but what it doesn’t tell you is how good a writer Klavan is. Compulsive readers like myself come across dozens of blurbs about well-known good authors every day, only to be disappointed when we pick up the latest book from a writer we have enjoyed before, or a writer who is new to us but highly touted.

This is one of the best written books I have read in years.

The second chapter, Addicted to Dreams, especially stands out. It is insightful, stirring, and every sentence is perfect, conveying a time and a state of mind from the past while making both immediate and present. It achieves that effect as beautifully as John Galsworthy’s masterful Indian Summer of a Forsyte. (The highest praise I can make, since I have re-read the entire Forsyte Saga once every ten years for the last four decades.)

This is one of the few books, out of the thousands I have read in my entire life, that I recommend for the quality of the writing. The fact that his writing evolved along with the spiritual journey makes the book even more fascinating.

A few years ago David Eggers’s immodestly-titled A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius came out, and yes, it is a fine book. But Klavan’s Great Good Thing is not only great and good, it is heartbreaking, and truly a work of staggering genius.

Read it, and your weekend will not be Klavanless.

faustaFausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news, and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

trump-for-america-bw-and-colorBy John Ruberry

I haven’t read all of the thousands of John Podesta emails hacked by Wikileaks–has anyone yet?–but what I have read they betray a Democratic Party obsessed with two things: Money and power.

Liberal writer Thomas Frank, in his second great (gasp!) Guardian column in less than a week, accurately portrays the modern Democratic Party:

Let us start with the Democrats. Were you to draw a Venn diagram of the three groups whose interaction defines the modern-day Democratic party – liberals, meritocrats and plutocrats – the space where they intersect would be an island seven miles off the coast of Massachusetts called Martha’s Vineyard.

I’m going to drive the point home by reminding you that John F. Kennedy Jr, who was a liberal, meritocrat, and a plutocrat, was flying to Martha’s Vineyard to attend a cousin’s wedding when the airplane he was piloting crashed into the Atlantic. The Vineyard is Barack Obama’s favorite vacation spot–he’s been there seven times while president. Martha’s Vineyard the playground of the Democrat elitists. Bill and Hillary Clinton have vacationed there several times. In August her campaign held a $100,000-per-couple fundraiser on the island, just days after a devastating flood struck Louisiana.

In those Podesta emails, I haven’t so far found any mention of blacks, unless it’s about the black vote, the group that Democrats claim to champion more than anyone. But other than voting en masse for the Democrats and celebrity campaign appearances by people like Jay-Z, African-Americans otherwise aren’t much use for the Democrats.

Blue collar workers, a section of the electoral pie that has been shrinking for decades, appear to be missing from the Podesta emails too. They are also absent from Martha’s Vineyard, from what I hear, unless they are modern George Wilsons from The Great Gatsby, dutifully repairing plutocrats’ Teslas. The working class, once the biggest chunk of the FDR coalition, is heading towards the Republican Party. Perhaps a majority of them are inside the GOP tent already. And you won’t find what Michael Moore calls “the forgotten working stiff” on any vacation, because the leftist flamethrower pointed out last month his stiff hasn’t “had a real vacation in years.”

Some blacks besides the First Family “holiday” on the Vineyard, but in a 2009 article in New York magazine, Touré dismissed them as African-Americans who are “the only ones,” such as the only black in the room, neighborhood, or workplace.

“No man is an island entire of itself,” John Donne wrote nearly 400 years ago, “every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” Unless of course you are a member of the Democrat elite. An island accessible only by boats and airplanes is a fitting hangout for them.

Which leaves “the leftover people” for the Republicans. Sure, the elitists will blame the decline in unionization of the blue collar work force as why the leftovers have fallen behind.

Maybe.

Also discovered in Podesta’s WikiLeaks cache was an email from Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who advised the Clinton campaign to choose a city outside of Washington for its headquarters because they would be better positioned to hire “low paid permanent employees.” And just what wage does Schmidt view as low paid? Is it less than the $15 minimum wage that Democrats call for?

John "Lee" Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven
John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

Oh, if Schmidt really believes every verse in the Democratic mantra, then why isn’t Google unionized?

So, no, the Democratic Party isn’t the champion of “the little guy” anymore, just as Martha’s Vineyard isn’t a vacation destination for blacks living in Boston’s impoverished Dorchester neighborhood. Ironically it’s a billionaire from Manhattan who, at least this autumn, has made “the little guy” feel at home within the Republican Party.

John Ruberry, whose closest brush with Martha’s Vineyard has been South Boston, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

by baldilocks

The benefits of quitting smoking are manifold.  I seem to enjoy sunshine and fresh air—such as it is in Los Angeles—more than ever. I wake up and get started earlier and am happy about it—even with our seemingly dismal political future looming.  As soon as the sun is on the horizon, I want the windows up, the blinds open, and the coffee brewing.

Planning was never my strong suit, but I find that it is essential now, with the many things I want to do around my apartment, not to mention the things I need to do.

Order and reordering are now the names of the game. To those ends, and because I lost much of my furniture, I mean to build my own shelving and tables for my living room and kitchen. And, possibly, make my own decorations.

Am I detoxing? Most certainly.  I’d also say that I’m having what we generally call a midlife “crisis.” I guess it could manifest itself in much worse ways.

obsessive-compulsive-disorder-3
Not quite this OCD

Another thing: it’s difficult now to stay on Social Media, blogs, etc. because that requires sitting down. All I want to do is get up and get things done, even mundane tasks like cleaning my floors.

I said all of that to point to a free service about which a surprisingly small number of people seem to use: the free digital offerings—ebooks and audiobooks–held by our public libraries.  Yesterday, while putting together the Black and Decker Workmate I requested and received for my birthday a couple of weeks ago, I listened to The Princess Bride, and today, I will continue listening to The Romanovs. I downloaded the latter to my Android so I can listen to in tomorrow while on the way to church. So, tomorrow, I will sit down and listen…for a little while.

How did I do this? Through the Los Angeles Public Library, which uses Overdrive. I would guess that Overdrive is used by countless public libraries across the country and all one needs is a library card.

You do have one of those, don’t you?

So the next time you are clean, mopping, fixing, seeding, weeding, feeding, etc. while you are listening to The Divine Comedy or Raylan, be sure to think of me favorably. Thank you.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>>baldilocks

Ruberry Black Sox
Ruberry in June with man in 1919 White Sox uniform

By John Ruberry

As this decade winds down you can look for many 100th anniversary articles. They’ll be a huge uptick of them next year to mark the centennial of America’s entry into World War I, followed by more on the armistice that concluded “the war to end all wars” in 1918. The execution of the czar and his family, as well as the fall of the Houses of Hohenzollern and Habsburg also occurred that year, events all directly related to World War I.

In 2019 baseball fans will mark 100 years since the Black Sox Scandal, when eight Chicago White Sox players conspired with gamblers to throw, that is, purposely lose the 1919 World Series.

“It never occurred to me that one man could start to play with the faith of fifty million people — with the single-mindedness of a burglar blowing a safe,” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Nick Carraway remarked about the scandal in The Great Gatsby.

That one man, although given a fictionalized name in Gatbsy, was Arnold Rothstein, the mastermind of the scandal, although one of the few things that historians agree upon is that its genesis came from Charles “Chick” Gandil, the first baseman for the 1919 South Siders.

What does the First World War have to do with Major League Baseball’s most notorious scandal. Plenty. In his book The Betrayal: The 1919 World Series and the Birth of Modern Baseball, Charles Fountain looks back at “the war to end all wars” and goes back much further.

Comiskey statue, US Cellular Field
Comiskey statue, US
Cellular Field

The most famous member of the Black Sox of course was the illiterate–but, as Fountain explains, in no way dumb, left fielder Shoeless Joe Jackson. During the Great War Jackson was one of the baseball players who avoided military service by joining a defense industry factory baseball team where he made perhaps the same, if not more money than he did playing for owner Charles Comiskey’s White Sox. In recreating the setting of early 20th-century baseball, Fountain, a Northeastern University journalism professor, shows that there was plenty of money “out there” for players, as a third circuit, the Federal League, proved in 1914 and 1915 by luring players from the established National and American leagues with more lucrative contracts.

Another way to collect extra cash was to throw games, and Fountain spends an entire chapter on the now largely forgotten Hal Chase, a talented first baseman who was the first homegrown star of the New York Yankees, whom he dubs “the Prince of Fixers.”

There was more gambling cash involved in baseball than ever during World War I, as President Woodrow Wilson’s “work or fight” labor policy inadvertently led to the closing of most horse racing tracks for the duration of the conflict. Money for wagering wasn’t just going to idly sit in gamblers’ wallets until the war ended. While some minor baseball leagues suspended play during the war, the big leagues, despite shortened seasons in 1918 and 1919, were still in business. And so were the gamblers. The war, and Wilson, upset the economic balance of the underworld.

After the Cincinnati Reds won the World Series, or after the South Siders lost it, and despite an investigation by Comiskey that seemed to suggest some White Sox players weren’t playing, as how it was said back then, on-the-square, it would take an unrelated gambling incident for the scandal to break wide open in the final week of the 1920 season, as the White Sox were in a heated pennant race that they would lose to the Cleveland Indians. The fixers almost got away with it. As the eight Black Sox players were exposed, Fountain details the playing out of a longstanding feud between Comiskey and American League president Ban Johnson, one that nearly put the junior circuit out of business with the creation of a new 12-team National League. Of course the two-league majors survived, ruled by a man seemingly removed from the Old Testament, federal Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis.

John "Lee" Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven
John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

As White Sox left the ranks of baseball’s elite in 1920, modern baseball, the post-dead ball era, began. No one knew it at the time, but the Golden Age of Sports, led by the New York Yankees’ Babe Ruth, had also arrived. Comiskey, who died in 1931, never put another contending team on the field, and the White Sox wouldn’t return to the Fall Classic until 1959–and the South Siders wouldn’t win it all until 2005. But the owner nicknamed “the Old Roman” was still able to cash in on the rollicking Roaring Twenties party; Comiskey Park was expanded in 1927, largely because of Ruth’s transformation of baseball.

Comiskey is treated somewhat sympathetically here, as someone who is more frugal than stingy.

Fountain’s effort succeeds not only as a baseball book but as an historical work. Which means you don’t have to be a fan of the national pastime to enjoy it.

John Ruberry, a lifelong White Sox fan, regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

by baldilocks

Nairobi, Kenya 2/24/2016 12:00 AM:

This post is mostly a stream of consciousness and mostly an excuse to post a few photos. The bulk of the really good photos will be posted on Saturday, for reasons specified below.

I arrived here on Monday at 8:00 PM, Kenya time, and slept great that night in a queen-sized Hilton Nairobi bed, but jet lag still hit me hard on Tuesday afternoon. My Kenyan parents have extremely comfortable couches.

Nairobi traffic is a vision of Hell. My young nephew-in-law, Samson, got out of the taxi and put his body on the line for the second photo.NairobiTraffic (1) NairobiTraffic (4)

My father lives in Rongai. He is small-statured, slim, and upright in bearing. I’m slightly taller than he is, but that’s probably due to his age. (I’ve noticed that my American parents are shrinking too.)  I’m much taller than my three Kenya sisters because my mother is tall.

JulietteandPhilipOchieng (2)

Father cares for his wife, Miss Jennifer, with the help of my sisters Lucy Adhiambo and Judith Aluoch. (Another Kenyan sister, Janet Akinyi, lives in Texas.) As a result of several diabetic strokes, Miss Jennifer is an invalid. Having taken care of my great-aunt in her last years, I empathize greatly.

Nairobi has an old crumbling feeling. The people, however, are the opposite. Young, hard-working, friendly and incredibly handsome. And I don’t just say that because I look like them. I’m just as grateful for my American heritage as of the African, but because of the former, I missed out on the smooth, blemish-free skin. And it has only been since reaching my 50s that the battle of the zits has been won. Mostly.

As far as I’ve seen, if there are morbidly obese people here, they don’t come out in public. Most everyone seems slim and graceful. I flew in on the Dutch carrier, KLM Airlines, and noticed that middle-aged Dutch people are mostly in good shape, too, not to mention really tall. O-beasts must be an American thing.

Ochieng House (1)
Ochieng House in Rongai

I was introduced to one of my two grand-nephews, Kyle, four months old.

Juliette and Kyle (5)

Tomorrow, I get to meet Nigel, two-years-old and one of the two stars of my Facebook page–the other being my American nephew, Jacob, also two. I guess there are three stars now!

My father and I were interviewed yesterday by a KTN reporter named Wilkester Nyabwa—a lovely young lady–for a human interest piece on our reunification. It will run on Saturday, Friday in the USA. I feel a tad bit like…not an imposter…but unworthy of all the hullaballoo made here in Kenya about my visit. I’ve long known that my father was famous on this continent, but felt removed from it. Not anymore. Fame makes a man think things over, to misquote a recently deceased philosopher.

Oh and my father and I exchanged copies of our books. That was really cool!

Ochieng Books (3)

For the next two days, my family and I will be away from Nairobi and out in our ancestral province. So I will be away from all things Internet, but it will be the opportunity for the best photos! Yes, I’m taking my anti-malarial meds and have my insect repellent handy.

My family members are all sweet, kind and funny. They all speak English, with Kenya having been a British colony, but I don’t yet have an ear for their accents and I did notice that, sometimes, my B-Girl/Valley Girl twang goes by them as well. It’s fun.

Everyone here tells me welcome home. Well, America is my home and always will be. But it’s nice to have two homes…and two wonderful families. Of course, it’s really just one big family.

To be continued on Saturday.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel, tentatively titled, Arlen’s Harem, will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.

Please contribute to Juliette’s Projects JOB: Her Kenya Trip Expenses, Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>

baldilocks

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Every now and then I have to step back from politics, take a break from the insanity, and escape in a good novel. When I find a writer or a novel that’s really, really good, I like spread the word.

As a longtime fan of Michael Henry’s novels, I was thrilled to find his latest, Murder in the Grove, is now available on Amazon in Kindle format (the paperback should be available by the end of this week if you prefer).  Mr. Henry is a sort of local celebrity – he was a prosecutor in nearby Natchitoches parish where he practiced civil and criminal law, twelve of those years as District Attorney. His novels are a cross between John Grisham and Michael Connelly.  If you like either of those two guys, you’ll love Mr. Henry’s books.

Murder in the Grove is a very timely novel; retired prosecutor Willie Mitchell Banks has moved to Oxford, Mississippi where he is content to live quietly, sipping vodka tonics and playing golf at the local course with his weekly group until he is approached about looking into a cold case that involves the murder that occurred during the September 1962 Ole Miss riots when a black military veteran enrolled in Ole Miss.  Federal and state forces were embroiled in violent clashes with southern segregationists and in the end there were two dead and many injured.

It falls to Willie Mitchell to find out what happened to a young man who was killed that night but was not part of the official death toll because his body was not found until several days later and was not found on campus.  Blending actual history and entertaining fiction in this novel, Michael Henry gives us characters that are thoroughly realistic and human, dialogue that is sharp and witty, and a memorable plot that is tightly-woven and filled with surprises.

I’ve read the entire Willie Mitchell series as well as Mr. Henry’s stand-alone book, Finding Ishmael, and think this one may be his best yet. (For years, Three Bad Years was my favorite, but I think that’s changed, now). If you’ve never read his work, this novel can certainly stand alone, but it will leave you with a desire to go back and read all of the others.  The character of Willie Mitchell is beautifully drawn; he and his best friend, the fat banker Jimmy Gray, banter back and forth like only long-time friends can and with such wit and humor that you feel like you know these people.

Mr. Henry’s books present a view of the south that is not stereotypical and does not pit blacks against whites as Hollywood would have you believe is always the case. His plots and his characters are drawn from his real life experience in the south both in and out of the courtroom and are a joy to read. I can’t fathom why he isn’t selling more books than Grisham or Connelly but I think it’s probably just that he’s our best kept secret. Once he is “discovered” he will quickly join the ranks of acclaimed southern writers.

Check it out:  Murder in the Grove. Let me know what you think.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

I speak to Author Carolyn Astfalk at the Catholic Marketing Trade Show

Her facebook page is here, her twitter account is here. Her web page is here.