Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Amazing Adventures of Aaron Broom

This book is short but very entertaining. It takes place pre-WWII, during the Great Depression. All the banks have closed their doors, and everyone's out of work. 

Aaron Broom, age 12, came from a wealthy family who lost everything. His father becomes a Bulova watch traveling salesman, who is in the wrong place at the wrong time when a robbery at J & J Jewelers goes wrong. He is arrested for shooting one of the jewelers. Aaron sees the police bring his father out of the store in handcuffs. Aaron knows his father is innocent and sets out to find the real shooter with the help of a new found friend, Augie. They trail all the workers of the shop, break into apartments, and do fake interviews.   And with the help of a lawyer picked out of the phone book, they are able to free Aaron's father.

One thing for sure, Aaron, is an honest young boy. When finding a wallet containing $75 in the gutter, he knows that the right thing to do is return it to the rightful owner.  Friend Augie is against this, claiming it could be food in their bellies and a place to live for a while. Aaron replies, "I'm no Boy Scout--if it's life-or-death medicine that's one thing. But when it's to steal...  If you return the wallet with the money in it, then your soul will be okay.  It's the one thing the Depression can't take from us long as we take care of it. I have this thing about my soul, that it's a good part of me, that it can keep me going or leave me empty."

Thursday, July 19, 2018

I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara is a posthumously published work from the editor of truecrimediary.com in which she recounts her years-long search to uncover the identity of the Golden State Killer. For more than a decade, the GSK terrorized neighborhoods and towns across Northern California, attacking single woman and couples in their homes. Despite countless clues found at each crime scene, the police were never able to find a viable suspect for the crimes. After the discovery of DNA profiling, evidence from seemingly unrelated cases was found to be linked through DNA evidence, but the killer still couldn’t be caught. The GSK went dormant in 1986, but no one could conclusively say if he had died, been imprisoned, or was still out there alluding capture.

It has been said that McNamara’s blog and articles about the GSK prevented the GSK cases from going completely cold, keeping the public and the police constantly vigilant for any clue that might lead to the perpetrator of these horrendous crimes. McNamara tracked down clues through thousands of pages of police records and court filings, interviews with police officers who first investigated and their colleagues now working the cases, and even went so far as to track down a pair of distinctive cufflinks that might have been stolen by the GSK. This preoccupation took a toll on McNamara’s life, however, intensifying her insomnia and anxiety and possibly contributing to her untimely death. According to her husband, an undiagnosed heart condition was exacerbated by prescription pain and anti-anxiety medication; McNamara died in 2016, just two years before the killer was finally brought to justice. In April 2018, just months after her book was published, police finally arrested a suspect found through tracking DNA evidence. While the story of the search for this heartless killer is a fascinating one, what makes I’ll Be Gone in the Dark really stand out from other true crime books is McNamara’s ability to humanize both the victims and the professional and armchair investigators who dedicated their lives to seeking justice. 


Friday, July 06, 2018

Once a Scoundrel by Mary Jo Putney

Gabriel Hawkins Vance entered the Royal Navy at the age of twelve and faced many horrific circumstances. At the age of sixteen, he commanded a French prize ship, but when Gabriel had to face his grandfather, Admiral Vance, he felt terrified. He would rather face disease, cannonballs, and ruthless pirates.

Gabriel resigns from the Royal Navy, walking out the door to an unknown future. All he knew was ships and the sea, so he decided to be the commander of his own ship. He could sail wherever, whenever he wanted, and take only the jobs he felt like taking, with the larger the risk the higher the payout.

One of these high-risk jobs is to save a lady who has been captured by pirates along the Barbary states. His mission: negotiate the ransom of fifty thousand pounds and bring her back to England unharmed. (Fifty thousand pounds in 1814 is like $940,000 in today's currency--a kings fortune!)

This "lady" who needs saving is not the average, sweet, curtsying sort. Aurora "Roaring Rory" Lawrence has a reputation for being intelligent, beautiful, charming, and independent--which is what got her in trouble in the first place. The story focuses on the twists, turns, and risks that Gabriel takes to rescue Aurora, her cousin, and the entire crew. With romance, murder, bribes, bartering, harems, and a wicked sheik, Once a Scoundrel is hard to put down. Although it is part of a series, it can certainly stand alone.

She lifted her chin. "Should I go free and others spend the rest of their lives in slavery because of the lucky accident of my birth?"
"In the eyes of God, no, but it's the way of the world in which we live." 
~Once a Scoundrel

~Daniela Green