Darktown by Thomas Mullen

Darktown by Thomas Mullen; 2016; $26.00; 371 pages; 37Ink, New York, NY; 978-1-5011-3386-2; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Albina; 9/14/17-9/17/17

Why did I read this?  I saw it on a list somewhere and it looked interesting.

In 1948 Atlanta adds eight African American Police Officers to their force.  However since it is 1948 they are partnered with only another African American Officer.  They are led by a ostracized sergeant who helped clean out some corrupt officers.  They are only allowed to stop other African Americans, they can’t investigate anything, their testimony is discounted in court, most of the white officers don’t accept them.  Some of the white officers are even out to get them off the force by nefarious means.  When an accident involves a white man and an African American woman, who then turns up dead, two of the officers investigate on the side and end up teaming up with one of the white officers to investigate.  Since it is not official much is done on the sly and therefore some things are in a grey area.

Grade-A

Murder in Linn County Oregon by Cory Frye

Murder in Linn County Oregon by Cory Frye; $21.99; 2016; 143 pages; The History Press, Charleston, S.C.; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Central; 4/3/17-4/5/17

Why did I read this? Because it looked interesting.

In early 1922 there were several murders in Linn County, Oregon.  There was a case of murder between two  men who were supposedly picking up some moonshine, when one killed the other.  There was two men who stole a car and ended up killing the Chief of Police for Albany.  The was the case of a brewer of shine who killed a different Albany of Police and a minister and himself when the Sheriff and minister came to investigate a still.  On top of this there was a pedophile lurking about town.  This all happened between January and June of the year.  It was an awful six months in and around Albany as multiple families lost fathers.  This is an well written account of a time when alcohol was banned through the country, people were acting hyper morally and the Klan was strong in the state. Frye provides a great deal of historical context.

Grade-A

Cryptography is not that easy

brothers crownMy Brother’s Crown by Leslie Gould and Mindy Starns Clark; 2015; $14.99; 358 pages; Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon; 978-0-7369-6288-9; sent from the publisher asking for review; 9/14/15-9/16/15

Much like one of my favorite authors, James Rollins, this story takes place in too different time periods.  One story line takes place in the time of kings and their courts, the other is now.  Connecting the two is a pamphlet that helped persecuted Huguenots flee France, only one copy of the pamphlet has survived to the present day.  It has stayed in the family over the centuries and is about to be presented to the Smithsonian.  In the current day one of the descendants has determined that there is a secret message within the pamphlet.  She only has forty eight hours to find the message within the pamphlet before it leaves the family custody.  Also there is a romance in each time period and a murder mystery lurking in the background of the the current time.  Lots of interesting relationships throughout the story, cousins, brothers, sisters, mothers and romantic entanglements.

Grade-A-

Did I enjoy it?  Yes, I enjoyed both stories and the connection between the two time periods.  Each character was fully developed and each story was interesting in itself.

What is with the title of the review?  The only impediment to complete enjoyment of the story was how easily two of the characters were able to decipher the message hidden within the pamphlet.

 

The Gall of some people

Plague of Juplaguestice by Stan Turel; 2008; $19.95; 383 pages; Dancing Moon Press, Newport, OR; 978-1-892076-56-4;  purchased from Multnomah County Library Title Wave Used Bookstore; 4/17/15-4/22/15

Why did I read this?  The author, Stan Turel, was our landlord for a couple of years.  We rented a house from him on the west side of Rocky Butte.

What is the story?  One morning the body of Jim Turel, the father of the author, was found dead at his accounting firm on SE Stark Street.  It appeared that he and the firm had been robbed and in the course of the robbery Mr. Turel had been beaten with his own crutches.  As the police began to look into the death, so did his son, Stan who took over the day to day operation of the firm.  It appeared that it was an inside job by an associate at the firm.  After the police finished their investigation the associate was found guilty of several counts including murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.  Almost as soon as he got behind the walls of the correctional institutional he began filing lawsuits against anyone who had been involved in convicting him.  He even sued the son of his victim for five million dollars.  He never won any of the cases but if those sued did not response the jailhouse lawyer could have collected a judgement.  Somehow the murdered got transferred out of state and was paroled after just 14 years.

Grade-B

Did you enjoy it? Yes I learned much about Stan and his family, how some detectives seem to be more dogged than others and how fouled up our justice system can be.

What is with the title of the review?  After being convicted of killing Jim Turel his killer had the gall and audacity to sue his son for $5 million for helping seek the conviction.

 

Read this in the middle of the day.

A Silence of Mockingbirds, A Memoir of Murder by Karen Spears Zacharias2012;$25.00; 322 pages; Macadam Cage, San Francisco, CA; 978-1-59692-375-1; 364.1523092 Z16s; Checked out from Multnomah County Library, Troutdale; 1/20/15-1/23/15

Back in October of 1984, 5 months before I got married, 17 months before Daniel was born I read a book that kept me up all night.  I read Pet Sematary by Stephen King.  I remember turning the radio and a light on and trying to sleep, I think between then and now another book has not bothered me to do that do me.  Until now, it is 12:50 AM as I type this and I can’t sleep, I don’t want to sleep, but I have to go to work in the morning and work a full day.

At 1:53 PM, Friday, June 3, 2005 Karly Sheehan died.  She was 3 years old. She was beaten and tortured by her mothers’ boyfriend until she died.  It could have been prevented, if the system had worked the way it was supposed to.  Too many people took the abusers word for what had happened, too many people believed the narcissistic mother, too many people wanted to blame the father, too many people didn’t want to deal with it.

Karen Spears Zacharias had given the mother a place to live when she was a teenager and so was very familiar with the mother in the story.  Karen I don’t know how you did the research and wrote this, I would have been crying through the entire research and writing.  This is a story of a system that betrayed a young life.  The story of Karly Sheehan changed laws in Oregon so hopefully no child falls through the cracks.

The story is well written and compelling to read, it was like watching Titanic, I knew what the ending was going to be but I kept hoping someone would step and change things.  Unfortunately this is real life and not a novel. There is no happy ending.

I really enjoy Karens’ writing but as the grandfather of a three year old I shouldn’t have read this because I kept seeing my granddaughter.

I went to bed at 1:30 after finishing the book, starting this review and starting my next book.  I never felt like I got to sleep just hovered somewhere on the border of being asleep and being awake.  Several people at work today commented on how tired I looked.

Grade-A

What is with the title of the review?  This is not a book that should be read in the evening or just before bed.  This book is scarier than anything Stephen King could write, because it is true and shows the inhumanity of man.