Weather Report, Feb. 17


(Photo by Kay Pat)

Our currently featured books, “The Guardian,” by J.D. Moyer, “Inheritance,” by Evelyn Toynton and “It Turns Out Like This,” by Stephen Coyne, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.




In the wake of the 2016 presidential contest, Clara Buchanan, a long-time journalist at the Boston Globe, is forced into an early retirement in a post-facto world. “Real news?  Fake news? When did things get so slippery?” she grouses.  It doesn’t take long for Clara Sue to unearth one stable fact which is that over-the-hill journalists are largely out of work. The Florida native and Peabody nominee returns to her rural hometown in Florida’s Big Bend to take over the town’s only newspaper where Clara is reminded that a big-city reporter’s opinions cannot compete with football, family reunions or the Future Farmers of America. But the usual copy at The Clarion changes when a lucrative federal contract to renovate the local high school pits the town heavies Hiram and Roscoe Lamb against their “simple” stepbrother Butch McCray.

Butch’s tiny store on its half-acre lot is the single obstacle between the Lamb brothers and a lucrative payday. Clara Buchanan decides to investigate the dispute over land and property which has bedeviled Butch’s life with his stepbrothers, a story that gets complicated when Hiram Lamb is found dead on property that used to belong to Butch’s long-deceased mother.  Was Hiram’s death accidental, as the local sheriff and coroner insist?  Clara’s investigation into the present inevitably involves the past history between the Lambs and the McCrays and her confidence to distinguish fact from fiction erodes when her own investigation becomes guided or influenced by phenomenae that she can neither discount nor explain.


The first of these linked novellas, Flashcards, chronicles Phoebe and her friend Dessa as they navigate the complex landscape of suburban adolescence. Their differences—Phoebe is grounded in her mind, Dessa in her body—are what draw them together and push them apart, and the girls use their distinct viewpoints to interpret, as best they can, the strange behaviors of adults. The Curse of Ambrosia reunites the girls as octogenarians in a world on the brink of climate disaster and societal ruin. In their renewed friendship, Dessa and Phoebe join with others to fight forces that deny the dignity of personhood to all but a select (and rich) few.


Wrtes one reviewer: “The fragments that make up Permanent Exhibit by Matthew Vollmer read like memoir, like essays, like poetry. They are unconventional, short, and punchy, imitating the lexicon of contemporary internet discourse while sharpening the rhetorical edges to enhance the language’s poetic qualities. Ranging from a few sentences to a few pages, each piece is laid out in sprawling, uninterrupted single paragraphs. Within the short paragraph of the opening essay, ‘Status Update,’ Vollmer approaches themes that will appear repeatedly throughout the collection: technology, family, literature, and death. The essay, like the collection as a whole, attempts to keep a variety of dissonant impulses in conversation: the natural and the manufactured, the political and the personal, irony and sincerity, the grand and the mundane, comedy and tragedy.”





The Guardian

The Guardian (Fiction Without Frontiers Book 2) by [Moyer, J.D.]

This week’s other featured books, “Inheritance,” by Evelyn Toynton and “It Turns Out Like This,” by Stephen Coyne, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the authors name on our Author’s page.


THE BOOK: The Guardian




THE PUBLISHER: Flame Tree Press

SUMMARY:  In the year 2737, Earth is mostly depopulated in the wake of a massive supervolcano, but civilization and culture are preserved in vast orbiting ringstations.

Tem, the nine-year-old son of a ringstation anthropologist and a Happdal bow-hunter, wants nothing more than to become a blacksmith like his uncle Trond. But after a rough patch as the only brown-skinned child in the village, his mother Car-En decides that the family should spend some time on the Stanford ringstation.

Tem gets caught up in the battle against Umana, the tentacle-enhanced ‘Squid Woman’, while protecting a secret that could change the course of humanity and civilization.

The Guardian, sequel to the The Sky Woman, is a story of colliding worlds and the contested repopulation of a wild Earth. It is Book 2 of the Reclaimed Earth series but can be read as a standalone novel.

THE BACK STORY: After I completed The Sky Woman (my first novel that I considered publishable) I originally planned to write a slew of short stories with the intention of publishing in my favorite magazines such as The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and eventually becoming an active member of the SFWA. My creative mind had other ideas; all my ideas were still happening in the world of The Sky Woman. So I dove right into the sequel, which turned into The Guardian.

The first draft took about eight months, subsequent drafts much quicker. I was happy to sign both novels to Flame Tree Press and I’m hoping and planning for a third book in the trilogy: The Last Crucible.

I did eventually get to those short stories (including The Equationist published in F&SF) and I’ve had a great time participating in the SFWA and attending the Nebulas conferences.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Tem is a guardian of Earth settlements, including his home, but also guarding a powerful, potentially world-changing secret, in the form of a simulation algorithm that he learned from his aunt. She had been guarding this secret for years but unburdens herself by teaching it to Tem, who must decide what to do with it, and who he can trust.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The Reclaimed Earth series is anthropological science fiction, and there aren’t many authors writing in that subgenre. I hope that fans of Mary Doria Russell, Octavia Butler, Margaret Atwood, and Kim Stanley Robinson would also enjoy my books.


Review in Analog SF

“Complexity and moral ambiguity enough to make this a serious, engrossing story” — Don Sakers, Analog SF

Read reviews on Goodreads

“A well paced ride that is rich in adventure, charismatic three dimensional characters, sci-fi details, and convincing plot twists.” — Elise, Goodreads reader

“A well-told story reminiscent of Ursula K. LeGuin or Karen Lord.” Review of The Sky Woman (Book 1 of Reclaimed Earth) by Don Sakers, Analog SF

AUTHOR PROFILE: I live on Oakland, California with my wife, daughter, and mystery-breed dog. I didn’t start writing in earnest until I became a father, and I had a few careers and adventures before that. I produced electronic music, ran a music label, and co-hosted San Francisco’s longest-running and most popular electronic music happy hour. I was an extra in one of the Matrix sequels, at one point worked at a dolphin cognition researcher, acted and hawked food at the Renaissance Faire, and practiced and taught martial arts and fencing. Ultimately I gave up a life of DJing at clubs to spend more time at home with my family, write novels, and play Dungeons and Dragons with my friends.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: The depopulation/repopulation cycle has always interested me, and that’s at the core of the Reclaimed Earth series, as is the idea of radical long-term climate change. The graph of human population on Earth hasn’t always gone up; we’ve had some serious setbacks from supervolcanoes, war, and illness. And it’s likely we have more of that coming, though the biggest dip yet may come from a combination of birth control, family planning, economic pressure, and lifestyle preferences (which is vastly preferable to a dip from food shortages, war, or epic disasters).


In this scene early in The Guardian, Tem overhears his family fighting about the plan for him to spend time on the Stanford ringship:

Tem returned home to find Farmor Elke sitting at the table, scowling.

“Where’s Mother?” he asked.

“Out back. What have you got there?”

“Trout. Look how big this one is!”

Farmor Elke grunted, unimpressed. His grandmother’s eyes were pale blue, like Father’s. Farmor stood, took the three fish, and laid them carefully on the cutting block. “Car-En had a talk with me. Your mother says she wants to take you to the ringship.”

“Just for a visit,” Tem said. “To meet Mormor and Morfar.”

“A visit? Is that what she said?” Farmor Elke sat back down. Despite her age, she moved smoothly and quickly, not like an old person. More than once she had chased Tem down to cuff his ear. Elke often pointed out that she only punished Tem when he deserved it. Her own mother, Mette, had thrown rocks at children for no reason at all. Then one cold autumn morning, long before Tem had been born, Mette was found in the woods, frozen stiff. Nobody had been sad about that – not even Elke. This was hard for Tem to imagine. He loved his own mother dearly, and his father nearly as much. He even loved grumpy Farmor Elke.

“What’s this?” Mother had come in, and was looking at the trout on the cutting block.

“Dinner,” said Tem. “Please?”

“The boy is resourceful,” said Farmor Elke, as if he wasn’t there. “You’re happy here, aren’t you?” she asked, turning to face him.

“Of course I am,” he said. He kept his eyes on Mother. Something was wrong.

“That’s not the point, is it?” Mother said to Farmor.

“I have no idea what the point is,” Farmor said.

“There’s a larger world out there.”

“So? What does that matter?” Farmor Elke snapped. His grandmother’s voice always had an edge to it, but she rarely raised her voice. She was truly angry, not just irritated. “He has everything he needs here. His parents, his grandparents, plenty of food.”

“He needs to learn,” said Mother sternly.

“I’m right here,” Tem said. “What’s this about?”

“He is learning,” Farmor retorted. “His uncle will teach him steel; his aunt, letters; his father, archery. You can tell him whatever nonsense you like about the stars and floating ships. What else is there?”

“I’m right here,” Tem repeated, more loudly. “Stop talking about me like I’m not here.”

“He’s never met my parents. Or my friends. He knows nothing about life beyond this village.”

“You left your parents behind,” Farmor said. “And your friends.” Tem thought this was cruel to say, even though it was true. Mother had had good reasons, even though he didn’t understand completely, and suspected that he hadn’t been told the complete truth of the matter. But that was Farmor Elke: her honesty verged on cruelty.

“It’s not too late for him to meet them,” Mother answered. “And he can make up his own mind about if…about when he returns.”

“Careful,” Farmor said. “You might slip and say something true.”

“Stop talking!” yelled Tem, striking the table with his fist. Mother and Farmor started, and stared at him. “I’m right here! What’s this about? Why are you arguing?”

“We should wait until his father returns,” said Farmor Elke, ignoring him. Mother’s face tightened.

Tem stomped to the ladder and climbed to the loft. Soon he heard and smelled the trout frying in butter. He heard Farmor Elke leave (without saying goodbye, but that was not unusual), and soon after that Father returned from the hunt. Father had killed a boar, Tem overheard. Farbror Trond would clean it and bury it over hot coals to slowly roast overnight. Despite Happdal’s growing population, the woods were thick with game. Hunting parties rarely returned empty-handed.

Tem waited in the loft for Mother to call him down for dinner. Waiting became sulking; his parents started eating without him. They spoke quietly to each other. About him, he supposed. He inched close to the edge so he could eavesdrop.

“Would you be safe there?” father asked. “The man who tried to kill you – would he try again?”

“I’m not scared of Adrian,” said mother. “I never was. I stayed here to be with you.”

“What about the intervention rule? I thought the sky people weren’t supposed to interfere with the lives of villagers.”

“Tem is both a villager and a sky person by birth. And there’s no rule against villagers visiting ringstations, as far as I know. Per Anders is already on The Stanford, after all. Surely you could visit because you’re my husband and Tem’s father. And Non-Interventionism was never meant to be a permanent policy. It’s simply a precaution until repopulation officially starts. Which it probably has – it’s been ten years.”

Tem scooched back from the edge. Visiting the ringship did sound like a good adventure, but in truth he did not care if he went or not. He didn’t know his mormor and morfar, so he could not miss them. Farmor Elke was right – he was happy in the village. He was happy to pump the bellows until his arms burned and his hands ached. He was proud of the thick calluses that covered his palms and fingers.

What was everyone upset about?

When he heard them clearing the plates, he ventured down the ladder.

“There’s my son!” said Father. “Were you hiding up there in the loft? We saved you a trout. Thank you for catching our dinner.”

“You knew I was up there.”

“Yes, I did. And you wanted to stay up there, so we let you.”

Tem ate his fish in silence. Mother patted his head. He wanted to ask her what she and Farmor Elke had been fighting about, but he couldn’t find the words.

Here’s another excerpt, from Chapter 6, where Lydia and Shane attempt to rescue the researchers from the village of Kaldbrek:

Lydia and Shane hid in the spruce forest about ninety meters back from the bonfire, watching through infrared binoculars. Three of the insect drones, much closer to the fire, were sending them visual feeds.

Alexi Rosen was dead, murdered in a gruesome ritual. He’d been stripped and tied facedown to a wooden cross, his back ribs gaping open on each side of his spine. His lungs, pulled through the open wounds, hung limply alongside his ribcage.

A few drunken men still loitered about the clearing, but most had dispersed. One of the long wooden tables had been overturned. A mangy dog sniffed at the scraps.

How long had Rosen suffered? It was impossible to know. His bioskin had stopped transmitting data twenty minutes after the message from Xenus and Adrian. He’d been dead when they’d arrived. Lydia could only hope he hadn’t suffered for long.

“Look,” said Shane. Three old women approached Rosen. They untied him from the cross and covered his body with a swath of burlap, handling his heavy corpse easily. Once he was wrapped they carried him away. The dog trotted after them.

Lydia checked the bioskin telemetry from Aaron De Laurentiis, Rosen’s research partner. The other researcher was still alive. His vitals signs – adrenaline, heart rate, and blood pressure – were all dangerously elevated. She called up a top-down display in her m’eye; De Laurentiis’s location showed as a blue dot. He was only one-hundred-twenty meters away, just west of the clearing.

She lowered the binoculars and turned to Shane. He pointed toward De Laurentiis’s position. “I’m sending in the drones now.”

“Patch me in.”

The drone feeds appeared in her m’eye. The insectile robots were closing in on a sturdy wooden structure with no windows, guarded by two men holding heavy spears. Three meters and closing. One meter. Abruptly the view went dark – the tiny drones were squeezing in through cracks in the wood. Moments later the visual feed returned: two figures, a man and a woman, both bound hand and foot, a reflective glint of silver from the man’s uniform.

“The bioskin – that’s him,” she whispered. “What should we do?” Shane didn’t answer. Lifting the binoculars again, she surveyed the clearing. The bonfire was dying. The remaining men had either left or fallen asleep in the tall grass.

“The woman…who is she?” Shane asked.

Lydia refocused on her m’eye. The bound woman was asleep on her side, turned away from the drones (the insect-bots were now perched on the wall, perfectly still). “I don’t know, but I’m guessing she’s in trouble. Maybe she stole something, or slept with the wrong person.”

“I thought these villagers didn’t care much about infidelity,” Shane said.

“I don’t think it’s a crime punishable by death, but someone might have gotten jealous.”

Shane grunted. “If she’s locked up with De Laurentiis, it’s serious. I’m guessing tomorrow night there’s going to be another ritual.”

“So you think we’re safe for the night?”

Shane shook his head. “We’re nothing like safe. We’re going to end this now and get out of here.”

They pulled the close-fitting bioskin hoods over their heads. The skins color-shifted as they moved; with the camouflage and the darkness they were nearly invisible. Shane carried his dart rifle; Lydia held her disruptor in her right hand and a utility knife in her left. She followed closely behind Shane, crouched low and moving quietly just as he had instructed.

Shane moved quickly, staying in the cover of the trees until the last possible moment. Lydia checked the time in her m’eye: 2300 hours. Not that late, but most of Kaldbrek had gone to bed. They passed the bonfire undetected, closing in on the wooden structure where De Laurentiis was held captive. She could see the guards now with her own eyes. Shane knelt and aimed his dart rifle. It was a long shot – over fifty meters. One of the guards crumpled. The other straightened up, looked around,

then lowered his spear in their direction.

“Quick,” whispered Lydia, “before he alerts the others.” Shane aimed carefully, taking his time. The remaining guard shouldn’t have been able to see them at this distance, not in the dark, not with their camouflaged bioskins, but he was moving toward them. No, he was sprinting toward them, pulling back his shoulder to hurl his spear.

Shane fired. The guard kept running for a few seconds before his grip slackened. He dropped the spear and crouched, hands on knees, breathing heavily. He stood, drew a knife from his belt, and staggered toward them.

Shane swore under his breath, then leapt to his feet and ran toward the guard. At ten meters he fired his neural disruptor. The guard collapsed. Shane stood over the body, pointing the disruptor, until he was sure the man was down. Shane waved Lydia over and she joined him, heart pounding against her sternum.

The guard was still alive – that much she could see with her infrared. He’d wake within the hour, or much sooner if he was resistant to the dart sedative. “Let’s move,” she said. Shane was already entering the windowless wooden structure. She followed cautiously, disruptor raised. Shane was sawing away at De Laurentiis’s bindings.

“Help,” croaked Aaron De Laurentiis. Thin to begin with, he now looked emaciated. But he was alive. The bioskin had told them as much, but she felt a flood of relief seeing her old friend with her own eyes. De Laurentiis squinted at her.

“It’s Lydia. It’s good to see you, but stay quiet for now.”

Shane helped De Laurentiis to his feet. The researcher looked shaky. Her m’eye indicated that he had a fever; she would check for infection when they got back to the hovershuttle. Dehydration was also likely.

“Where’s Rosen?” De Laurentiis asked. “They took him away.”

“Can you walk?” Shane asked. De Laurentiis nodded.

Lydia looked at the other captive. “What about her?” The woman was bound and gagged, but had rolled over to face them. She was small-framed for a villager. In the dark it was impossible to make out her features, but somehow she looked familiar.

“Not our problem,” Shane said.

“Who is she?” Lydia asked.

De Laurentiis shrugged. “We couldn’t talk. We were both gagged.”

The captive woman tried to say something through her gag.

“We should free her,” Lydia said.

Shane shook his head. “Non-intervention. You know the rules. We have to leave. Now.”

The woman thrashed on the ground, yells muffled by her gag. Shane shot her with the disruptor. She went limp.

“Was that necessary?” Lydia asked.

Shane was already heading out the door, practically carrying De Laurentiis. As soon as Shane was out of sight, Lydia knelt and cut the rope binding the woman’s ankles and wrists. She folded the utility knife and left it next to the prisoner’s limp body. Whatever the woman had done, she didn’t deserve what had happened to Rosen. No one did. She felt sick at the thought of telling De Laurentiis that Rosen was dead, and had been tortured. She ran and caught up with the others.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Eastbay Booksellers on College Ave. in Oakland always stocks all my titles.


The Guardian is available via Powells Books, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and many other outlets. Purchase from Powells Purchase from B&N Purchase on Amazon

PRICE: $6.29 on Kindle, $14.95 paperback, $20 hardcover, audiobook free with Audible trial

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: I’m reachable via my website, and my DMs are open on Twitter (@johndavidmoyer). I’m always happy to chat with readers — please drop by and say hi!


Inheritance: A Novel by [Toynton, Evelyn]

THE BOOK: Inheritance.

THE AUTHOR: Evelyn Toynton

THE EDITOR: Judith Gurewich


Image result for Evelyn Toynton + author + photograph_SUMMARY: After the sudden death of her husband, Annie Devereaux flees to England, site of the nostalgic fantasies her father spun for her before he deserted the family and vanished without a trace. A chance encounter in London leads Annie to cancel her return to New York and move in with Julian, the disaffected, moody son of Helena Denby, an aristocratic British geneticist. As their relationship progresses, Annie meets Julian’s sisters Isabel and Sasha, each of them fragile in her own way, and becomes infatuated with visions of their idyllic childhood on their family estate in England’s West Country. But the more she uncovers about Julian’s past, the more he explodes into rage and violence. Finally tearing herself away, Annie winds up adrift in London, rescued from her loneliness only when she and Isabel form an unexpected bond. Slowly, with Isabel as her reluctant guide, Annie learns of the emotional devastation that Helena’s warped arrogance, her monstrous will to dominate, inflicted on her children. The family who once embodied Annie’s idealized conception of England is actually caught in a nightmare of betrayal and guilt that spirals inexorably into tragedy.

THE BACK STORY: I became friends with a woman from an upper-class English family, and the stories she told me about her upbringing and the tragedies that were tearing the family apart haunted me after her death. Though much of the novel is pure fiction, elements of her family’s story are woven into it in a disguised form.

WHY THIS TITLE: The novel centers on two separate questions of inheritance, one relating to a grand English country estate and the second to genetics: the matriarch of the family attempts to provide superior genes to her children, with consequences she could not have foreseen.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: The lazy answer might be that there continues to be a great interest in the eccentricities and secrets of the English aristocracy, but I’d like to think that my story of an American Anglophile whose life becomes entangled with that of a disintegrating upper-class family is gripping in its own right. I hope that many readers will be able to relate to the tale of losing one’s romantic illusions, and finding out what’s left of love when they’re stripped away: it’s an experience that so many people have lived through, even if theirs takes a very different form from the one portrayed here.


“A well-told and gripping drama.” –Times Literary Supplement

“Evocative…vivid…a knotty story ripe for discussion.” –Booklist (starred review)

“A wordsmith of the highest order, Toynton…weaves a deeply cinematic story.” –Library Journal (starred review)

“A finely phrased and observed piece of writing.” –Kirkus Reviews

“An intense and beautifully written novel, a vivid portrayal of romantic Anglophilia and disillusionment, explored in all its sorrowful and comic complexity.” –Joan Brady, Whitbread Award-winning author of Theory of War

“A scrupulously observed story of an American Anglophile confronted by the quirks, cruelties, and delusions of the English upper classes–I was fascinated.” –Lynn Freed, author of The Last Laugh.

AUTHOR PROFILE:  Evelyn Toynton is an American who has lived in England for the past twenty years. Her first novel, Modern Art, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; her second novel, The Oriental Wife, was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered. In 2012 Yale University Press published Jackson Pollock, part of its Icons of America series. Her essays, reviews, and short memoirs have appeared in Harper’s, the Atlantic, the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, The American Scholar, and the New York Times Book Review, among other publications, and have been reprinted in a number of anthologies, including Rereadings; Mentors, Muses & Monsters; Table Talk from the Threepenny Review; and Novel Writing: A Writer’s & Artist’s Companion.


I had come to England, that May of 1986, expecting lofty and exalted feelings, but everywhere I went I kept picking up distress signals, thin vibrations of pain: a blotchy-faced girl shredding a Kleenex with both hands on the 73 bus, a dark birdlike man hunched over his soup in the shabby café near the South Kensington Tube station. And every morning, when I opened my eyes in my crummy hotel in Bloomsbury, all the mismatched bits of furniture bristled at me with silent malice. Then I’d tell them to fuck off, though not loud enough for them to hear.

On my eighth day in London, I woke to the smell of mildew: one door of the lopsided wardrobe had swung open during the night. I slammed it shut and padded to the window, peering through the net curtains to check out the street. Sometimes I’d stand for an hour, one leg snaked around the other, watching the people below. That morning it was drizzling, they were putting up umbrellas, tugging at their collars, tossing cigarettes into the gutter as they headed for the Tube. I couldn’t pick out faces very well, but even from the third floor I could spot the luckless ones, trudging along with their heads down, communing with the sidewalk. A squat bald man barreled impatiently ahead, knocking his briefcase against a woman’s bare legs. Ordinary, trivial rudeness. You’d have to be half nuts to get riled about a thing like that when it wasn’t even happening to you. But there I was, heart pounding. Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life . . . there was no answer to that, nobody had ever found an answer.

Time was running out. There were only a few days left to find the romance of England, in which I’d placed so much faith; so far it had eluded me even among the swans and turrets and purple irises of St. James’s Park. It was just past nine o’clock. I made my way to the damp bathroom down the hall, where I brushed my teeth and splashed cold water on my face; back in my room, shivering by the tepid radiator, I dressed quickly in my good black suit and high heels, as though I had somewhere important to get to. In front of the cracked mirror of the wardrobe, I applied lipstick, blush, the new greeny-gold eyeliner in a pot that I had bought on the last day of my old life and never worn. Then I went down the shabby steps and onto streets newly washed with rain; in the first square I came to, the leaves on the trees were blurry with sunlit water. A tremulous, born-again feeling.I realized I was hungry, and climbed the majestic steps of the Hotel Russell.

A boy who looked no more than fifteen, in a maroon uniform whose matching hat tied under his chin with gold braid, emerged from behind a speckled marble pillar and asked if he could help. I’d like some breakfast, I told him. “Certainly, madam,” he said, in a grave adult voice, though it squeaked. “I’ll go see if we have a table available. Would you care to take a seat while you’re waiting?” He gestured to a deep alcove at the left of the staircase, where a small round table with a vase of gold and crimson flowers sat between two identical plushy armchairs.

One chair was occupied by a bony old man in a clerical collar, with a rough-coated white terrier at his feet. As I seated myself opposite, he turned toward me, and I saw that the left side of his face had collapsed, his eye half-sliding onto his cheek. Very slowly, he lifted a trembling hand from the arm of his chair, then lowered it again. Men in suits and gleaming shoes walked past. A few minutes later my teenaged guide reappeared to inform me in the same grave voice that my table was ready. When I stood up the man opposite lifted his hand again, higher this time, so that I almost thought he was going to pronounce a blessing.

I ate a large plate of eggs and sausages and fried tomatoes in a cavernous room crowded with chandeliers. After that I had a burst of determination; I got out my guidebook, with its little foldout maps, and made my way on foot to the National Portrait Gallery, where I tried to sort out which wigged and powdered man was which; I revisited the van Dycks next door; I wandered down the Mall and up Whitehall, and circled the thunderous-looking statues on plinths in Waterloo Place. Then I remembered that I hadn’t yet been to Keats’s house, and went looking for a 24 bus.

When I was eleven, my father had sat on my bed and told me the story of Keats’s life in a voice husky with tears. At fifteen I had read Keats’s letters in bed, under a pile of blankets, in a house my mother could no longer afford to heat, and believed that I could have saved him somehow. In college I’d kept on my desk a postcard of his grave that I’d found in an old library book.

I’d expected his house to be silent, like a shrine, but a straggly party of Russians was being ushered around by a stocky female with a harsh angry voice. I lingered on the ground floor, by the case with Fanny Brawne’s engagement ring, waiting for them to go upstairs, but even when they did, I could still hear her booming away. The bony woman at the ticket desk told me that the Russians had gone to lay a wreath on Marx’s grave in Highgate; now the guide was killing time before delivering them for their scheduled appointment at the Consulate. “She’s come here before, she doesn’t know anything about Keats,” she burst out resentfully. “I think she just lectures them about the evils of the class system.” I liked how fierce she sounded, like a dog growling; I wished I could go on talking to her—I hadn’t heard my own voice much that week—but I couldn’t think of anything helpful to say.

Upstairs the guide’s guttural consonants followed me as I peered at the portraits, the death mask, the tiny bed he might or might not have slept in, trying to feel his presence in those white antiseptic rooms. Finally I gave up and took myself for a walk on the heath, where no nightingales sang, and one of my heels sank into a dog turd hidden in a clump of tiny purple flowers. But at least I hadn’t picked up any signals of anguish from the Russians.

I had just made my way back to South End Green and turned onto Constantine Road when an unshaven man with half his teeth missing accosted me and asked if I could spare a couple of quid. “I could say it was for food, darlin’, but I’m not going to lie to you.” He winked at me. “I’m an alcoholic, see, I can’t help it, it’s a disease.”

All I had in my wallet, apart from a twenty-pound note and a day’s travelcard, was a five-pence bit and a few pennies—that and the ticket that allowed for free entry to Keats’s house for a year, which he might not find very useful. So I handed over the change, apologizing: “I’d give you more, honest, but this is all I have on me.”

“What about the note, then?” And when I said I wasn’t going to give him twenty pounds he thrust his face at mine. “What’s twenty quid to you compared to me? Eh?”

“Sorry.” I closed my bag and walked away, but he followed behind, muttering just loud enough for me to hear, “Fuckin’ Yank, we don’t want you here, go back where you came from, foreign cunt,” all the time breathing heavily, quickening his pace when I did. After a minute I was short of breath too—pant puff, pant puff: our breaths had synchronized—and hampered by my high heels, so that I could only trot in short steps. Across the street a woman was talking to her dog, a fat dachshund on a leash, without taking any notice of us. I wondered if I should shout for help, but I still hoped he was basically harmless, he’d get bored with calling me a Yank and a cunt and veer off.

Then he grabbed my hair, jerking my head back; I clutched my handbag to my chest and tried to hit him with my other hand, flailing behind me, while he tugged harder. At that point I did scream for help, but I had hardly gotten out the H when he let go, I heard a sort of crack, and turned my liberated head around: a tall sandy-haired man in a V-neck sweater had a cigarette in one hand and the other wrapped around my assailant’s neck. “Now,” he said, “I think that’s quite enough, don’t you? In fifteen seconds I’ll let go, and then you’ll scarper. Agreed? Just nod if you agree.” Insofar as he could, the drunk nodded his head. “All right, off you go,” Sir Lancelot said briskly, and released him.

“Fuckin’ toff,” the man said, rubbing his neck, and then, as he crossed the road, “Bleedin’ imperialist toff.”

“Thank you so much,” I said. “Really, I can’t thank you enough, you saved my life.”

“I doubt very much that your life was in danger. Still, it must have been a nasty shock. You’re not hurt, are you?”

“Oh, no,” I said, “I’m fine,” and burst into tears.

“Of course you are.” He threw his cigarette in the gutter. “I was just on my way to the pub. You’d better come along.”

I had to scurry to keep up as we headed back toward South End Green, which made me more teary. I must get rid of these shoes, I thought, sniffling, I must get some flats.

“Here we are,” he said, opening the pub door, and I tottered after him to the long wooden bar, where he spent a good three minutes discussing what I gathered was soccer with the man behind it, while I diverted myself by reading the signs on the dark walls and the words on the little pumps.

Finally he turned to me and asked what I’d like to drink. He frowned when I said a gin and tonic, as though that was the wrong answer. But he went ahead and ordered it. “

“Aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend, Jules?” the barman said, measuring out the gin.

His eyebrows shot up.

“I’m afraid we haven’t been formally introduced.” He turned to me again. “Would you mind telling us your name?”

So I did. “And you’re Jules.”

“Julian, actually. But Jules will do.”

In a booth by the window, I got my first direct look at him: eyes the gray of rain clouds, a long bony nose, slightly jutting chin, an altogether decisive-looking face.

He took a long swig. “So. Tell me what you were doing wandering around Constantine Road.”

I had been to Keats’s house, I explained.

“Ah yes. ‘Hail to thee, blithe Spirit.’”

“That’s Shelley.”

“Christ, is it? You Yanks always seem to know more about English literchur”—pronouncing it in an exaggerated American accent—“than we do.” His eyes strayed to the television in the corner, where a game of snooker was in progress. My feet were hurting, I was wishing I hadn’t come. I decided to take a taxi back to my hotel. First, though, I would go to the ladies’ room and tidy myself up. I was sure I had mascara running down my cheeks, and my hair felt greasy from the drunk’s hands.

But when I stood up, he said gruffly, “One of my sisters was very keen on all that.”

“All what?”

“Keats and Shelley and that lot. Byron. John Cam Hobhouse.” I stared at him in puzzlement, not sure what this had to do with anything, or why he should sound so gloomy as he brought out the name of Hobhouse. Then his eyebrows went up again. “Don’t look so gobsmacked. Why don’t you sit down and finish your drink?”

So I did, and we exchanged some basic information: where I was from (I just said New York), where he was from (“originally the West Country”), what I did for a living (edit ecologically minded guidebooks for backpackers: I didn’t say I’d quit my job). He told me he’d lived for a couple of years in Kenya; he and a friend of his who’d been born there had taken tourists on wildlife safaris. Once he’d been summoned to shoot a rogue crocodile that was attacking people. “Crocs are quite difficult to take out, actually, because you have to get them right in the brain, and they have exceptionally small brains.”

“But did you manage it?”

“Afraid not. But at least he didn’t kill me either. Would you care for another drink? You’re looking much more cheerful, by the way. It must have been the croc.” He waved away my twenty-pound note and went off to the bar.

What was he doing now, I asked when he got back. “You can’t be leading safaris in London.”

No, he said, he was your average disillusioned bureaucrat, not even a proper bureaucrat, because he worked for a think tank. “A ludicrous name for it, given the paucity of thinking that takes place there.”

“But do you think?”

“Not very often. I’d be the office pariah if I did.” He’d got a law degree at uni, he said; his remit was jurisprudence, exploring possibilities for coordinating sentencing guidelines among EEC members. He launched into a riff on the contradictory and byzantine laws governing sentencing in France and Italy and West Germany—“So you can get two years for passing a bad check in one country and six months for murder somewhere else”—breaking off occasionally when a shout or a wave of clapping alerted him that something had happened on the snooker table. Apparently there were great disparities in police procedures too, though those weren’t his department. In France they never released a single fact about a crime until they’d arrested someone. In England they begged the public to help them, and all the mad people phoned in and told them how they’d seen the crime in a vision . . . strung . . . dem . . . The place was getting more crowded, there was much hooting and laughter; what with that and his accent and the two double gin and tonics I’d had on an empty stomach, I was missing about a third of what he said. Something about the SDP, something about the wankers in the government.

At one point I decided I’d better have something besides booze in my stomach, so I went to the bar and bought us two cheese rolls. By my third drink I felt sure that he was suffering, he was in pain without being able to express it. It made me very sad, so sad that twice I went to the ladies’ room to have a little cry. In the passage leading to the ladies’ room, there was a brown-and-white engraving of a lavishly mustachioed man, head of some Indian regiment, and as I leaned against the wall to steady myself and stared into his face, I realized that Julian’s tragedy was that he’d been born into the wrong century: he was meant to be searching for the source of the Nile, or administering justice in some outpost of Empire. Protecting the women and children from rogue crocodiles. That made me cry some more.

I could never remember how I wound up going home with him that night—whether he said casually, with a shrug, Why don’t you come back to my house? or it was just taken for granted that I would. But somehow there I was, stumbling back along Constantine Road, bumping into him, until he turned right and I did too, down Rona Road, whose name I only learned later. I don’t remember first entering the hallway of his house, or his first entering me, for that matter. The next morning, though, I woke in panic, not knowing where I was. I heard his breathing next to me and jerked myself upright, staring around in the semidark to get my bearings. It was seven weeks and four days since my husband had dropped dead, and I was in a stranger’s bed in London.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon and bookshops around the country

PRICE: $7.69 at Amazon, $16.99 at bookshops


It Turns Out Like This

THE BOOK: It Turns Out Like This.


THE AUTHOR: Stephen Coyne.

THE EDITOR: Alan Davis.

THE PUBLISHER: New Rivers Press.

SUMMARY: Stu longs for the family he lost in the battle between rich men and poor men. He tries to develop a hard heart about the new life his ex-wife and daughter have found, but memories keep his pain fresh. When a desperate young mother asks Stu to help her escape from her abusive husband, Stu begins a voyage up-river that takes him back in time and also leads him to a future.

THE BACK STORY: Coming of age poor in the Vietnam War era, Stu is inspired to inaction. He drifts with the tide, he allows himself to be used by a pretty but pregnant girl in high school, and his bosses diminish him daily. But Stu find still places in the confusion and disrespect where he is able to make sense of some things and humor of the rest.

Stephen CoyneWHY THIS TITLE: This novel is built of short stories. Therefore, it keeps turning out and turning out. It’s like life that way.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: If you like to find clarity, redemption, and humor in the litterfall life, this book suits. Think of it as A Confederacy of Dunces meets Hillbilly Elegy.

REVIEW COMMENTS: “Old ‘water hermit” Stu, barely adrift in a world of two-bit marinas, bad choices, and hard times, holds this loosely linked ‘novel in stories’ together, and what fine stories they are! Tough, heartbreaking, unforgettable, necessary. Chances are pretty good that you have not met anybody like these desperate characters before, and you haven’t read anything like this collection, either. — Lee Smith, author of On Agate Hill and The Last Girls.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Coyne has been publishing stories since 1989. It Turns Out Like This is his first book-length work. Long a professor of English at Morningside College, he is now retired.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Let me know what you think.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: See the preview option on Amazon.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Barnes and Nobel, Book People, Morningside College bookstore.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes and Noble.

PRICE: $2.54 hardcopy, $6.99 Kindle.





Weather Report, Feb. 10

Free Stock Photo of Big Ben closeup Created by Bjorgvin

(Big Ben, London).

Our currently featured books, “Following Disasters,” by Nancy McCabe and “In Pursuit,” by David Reichenbaugh, can be found by scrolling down below this post, along with the First Tuesday replay. Or click the author’s name on our authors page.




After the sudden death of her husband, Annie Devereaux flees to England, site of the nostalgic fantasies her father spun for her before he deserted the family and vanished without a trace. A chance encounter in London leads Annie to cancel her return to New York and move in with Julian, the disaffected, moody son of Helena Denby, an aristocratic British geneticist. As their relationship progresses, Annie meets Julian’s sisters Isabel and Sasha, each of them fragile in her own way, and becomes infatuated with visions of their idyllic childhood on their family estate in England’s West Country. But the more she uncovers about Julian’s past, the more he explodes into rage and violence. Finally tearing herself away, Annie winds up adrift in London, rescued from her loneliness only when she and Isabel form an unexpected bond. Slowly, with Isabel as her reluctant guide, Annie learns of the emotional devastation that Helena’s warped arrogance, her monstrous will to dominate, inflicted on her children. The family who once embodied Annie’s idealized conception of England is actually caught in a nightmare of betrayal and guilt that spirals inexorably into tragedy.


In the year 2737, Earth is mostly depopulated in the wake of a massive supervolcano, but civilization and culture are preserved in vast orbiting ringstations.

Tem, the nine-year-old son of a ringstation anthropologist and a Happdal bow-hunter, wants nothing more than to become a blacksmith like his uncle Trond. But after a rough patch as the only brown-skinned child in the village, his mother Car-En decides that the family should spend some time on the Stanford ringstation.

Tem gets caught up in the battle against Umana, the tentacle-enhanced ‘Squid Woman’, while protecting a secret that could change the course of humanity and civilization.

The Guardian, sequel to the The Sky Woman, is a story of colliding worlds and the contested repopulation of a wild Earth. It is Book 2 of the Reclaimed Earth series but can be read as a standalone novel.


Stu longs for the family he lost in the battle between rich men and poor men. He tries to develop a hard heart about the new life his ex-wife and daughter have found, but memories keep his pain fresh. When a desperate young mother asks Stu to help her escape from her abusive husband, Stu begins a voyage up-river that takes him back in time and also leads him to a future.

Following Disasters

Following Disasters by [McCabe, Nancy]

This week’s other featured book, “In Pursuit: The Hunt for the Beltway Snipers,” by David Reichenbaugh, can be found by scrolling down below this post, along with the First Tuesday Replay. Or, just click the author’s name on our Authors page.


THE BOOK: “Following Disasters.”


THE AUTHOR:  Nancy McCabe.

THE EDITOR: Jon Roemer.

THE PUBLISHER: Outpost 19.

SUMMARY: On her twenty-first birthday, Maggie Owen receives an unusual birthday gift: a house. That same day, the house’s owner, her aunt, dies. For three years, Maggie has been fleeing her childhood demons: the deaths of her parents, estrangement from her terminally-ill aunt, and a betrayal by her best friend. But now her career on the road, following natural disasters in temporary insurance claims offices, ends abruptly as Maggie returns home to face her past. But why does the house hold a mysterious spell over her? Why does she have the persistent feeling that her aunt is haunting her? Why did her aunt lie to her about the circumstances of her parents’ deaths? Who is the ghost child that may be hanging around the house? And what’s with the guy next door who seems so hostile toward her? FOLLOWING DISASTERS is tightly woven ghost story that raises questions about legacies and their influence on our choices.

THE BACK STORY: One of my favorite aunts died of lupus when I was young, and for many years I could have sworn that her ghost was haunting me, creating coincidences in my life, flashing lights in my house, leading me to the right books at the right moment, planting in me one of her most poignant desires, to be a mother. Of course none of this sounds particularly supernatural (except maybe the flashing lights, but there was probably some electrical issue.) But after I decided, in my thirties, to adopt and raise a daughter as a single parent—a choice I knew would have thrilled my aunt—that sense of being haunted disappeared. But the questions lingered about the ways that the past follows us, the ways our own desires and goals can be shaped by those of the people who came before us, and I wanted to write about that.
WHY THIS TITLE?: Following a number of disastrous losses in her life, Maggie is literally following disasters in her job for an insurance company that deals with disaster claims. One of the book’s central questions is, how do we recover from difficult experiences and find hope and redemption?
WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? I borrowed from a lot of genres in constructing the story—the ghost story, the romance novel, the mystery—and while Following Disasters is ultimately a literary novel that plays with those genres, it has appealed to both literary audiences and audiences who are drawn to the genres it borrows from.


How great would it be to inherit, unexpectedly, a wonderful large Victorian house when you turned twenty-one? Maggie-Kate is unsure if it’s a blessing or a curse. Following Disasters is a novel that offers thrilling wisdom–about family, friendship, and romance. This is a true and important book, sometimes haunting, that is worth any reader’s time.” — Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Abundance, a Novel of Marie-Antoinette andAhab’s Wife.“

A masterfully told story of betrayal and dislocation vibrantly narrated through the voices of an odd-ball aunt and her eccentric niece, Following Disasters is at once a mystery, a love story, and a narrative of healing. Nancy McCabe’s most recent novel explores that deepest human yearning: our need to belong. I couldn’t put it down.” ― Elaine Neil Orr, author of A Different Sun: A Novel of Africa.

Following Disasters is really about fleeing the disasters of our past, and, finally, facing them. This beautiful novel shows how the ghosts of the past will quietly torment us until we confront them head on. You’ll be haunted by the brave, struggling Maggie long after you turn the final page―I certainly have been.” ― Katrina Kittle, author of Blessings of the Animals.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Like my character Maggie, I’m from Kansas but now live in northwestern Pennsylvania, where I teach at a campus of the University of Pittsburgh. I adopted my daughter from China twenty-one years ago, and we’ve been back to visit several times. Two of my books deal with adoption and China travel, Meeting Sophie: A Memoir of Adoption and Crossing the Blue Willow Bridge: A Journey to my Daughter’s Birthplace in China. I combined my love of travel and literature in another book, From Little Houses to Little Women: Revisiting a Literary Childhood. That book, like Following Disasters also strongly influenced by my aunt and the books she passed in to me. That book is about rereading, as an adult, favorite girls’ books and traveling to tourist sites related to them. I’m working on more fiction and have a memoir in essays forthcoming next fall, for the moment titled Can This Troubled Marriage be Saved: A Memoir. The chapters use borrowed forms to explore my youthful marriage: a women’s magazine quiz, a curriculum guide, Bible study notes, a self help article, etc. I love trying new things, am writing this with a broken arm because of a recent ill-fated tubing experience, do lots of bicycling and am in a clogging group. I also teach for the Spalding University School of Creative and Professional Writing low residency MFA program in Kentucky, an incredibly innovative program that really fuels my own creativity.
AUTHOR COMMENTS: I originally saw the end of Following Disasters as somewhat ambiguous, a bit of a commentary on social conventions and expectations, but most readers have seen it as a happy one. I love to hear arguments for either interpretation and have through reader response, come to see it very differently. I’ve also been honored that readers with Lupus have thanked me for writing about a disease that isn’t often represented in literature.
WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
PRICE: $16.00 (discounted to $10.44 on Amazon)

In Pursuit

In Pursuit: The Hunt for the Beltway Snipers by [Reichenbaugh, David]THE BOOK: In Pursuit: The Hunt for the Beltway Snipers


THE AUTHOR: David Reichenbaugh

THE EDITOR: James Morgan

THE PUBLISHER: University Press of New England Fore Edge Books

SUMMARY: In Pursuit: The Hunt for the Beltway Snipers is the true story of the investigation and capture of the beltway snipers. In October 2002, just a little more than a year removed from the 9/11 terrorist attacks, The District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) were paralyzed by John Muhammad and Lee Malvo, who over the course of twenty three days, were randomly choosing innocent unsuspecting civilian targets and ruthlessly gunning them down as they went about their normal day. The terror and uncertainty caused by the snipers brought the National Capitol Region to a standstill. Was this the work of an organized terrorist group? Was the nation under attack again with the goal of making American citizens fear for their own safety and the safety of their children? Were the police and the government rendered powerless to protect its own citizens from being shot and killed? Was this a direct attack on the American way of life?

David ReichenbaughThe Beltway Sniper investigation was the largest and most intense police investigation in American law enforcement history. More than 1000 police officers from Federal, State, City, County, and local police agencies joined forces to hunt the snipers down and bring their blood thirsty reign of terror to an end.

In Pursuit: The Hunt for the Beltway Snipers takes the reader, for the first time, inside the police investigation thru the eyes of the author who was serving as the Operations Commander for the intelligence arm of the Sniper Murder Task Force. The reader will learn the true story how this investigation was conducted and how the police pieced together thousands of tips and leads sorting thru evidence collected and attempting to make sense of senseless acts. Working around the clock, and developing techniques that had never been tried before, while under intense pressure from the public to the White House, the team was finally able to identify the snipers.

Written thru the perspective of the author who entered the investigation after the first shots were fired, and who found himself in command of their capture when the killers were spotted in a Rest Area on Old South Mountain in Myersville Maryland, just off of Interstate I-70. The author details the investigation to include his personal thought process as he and his team worked around the clock to bring the killings to a stop. He discloses the human side of law enforcement, opening up about his own personal fears for his own family as well as the safety of the State Troopers under his command as the journey took him from the fear of the unknown to the intensity of the night the killers were finally cornered and ultimately brought to justice.

THE BACK STORY: There have been several books, documentaries, and one movie produced since the reign of terror caused by the beltway snipers in 2002. None of those productions has been close to accurate in capturing the way the investigation was conducted or how the snipers were tracked down. Since this was a significant investigation and the most intense man hunt in American law enforcement history, I felt that it was important to write the true story capturing the events, the magnitude of the investigation, the intensity of the more than 1000 law enforcement officers who worked the case, and how it affected both the citizens and the law men, in a historically accurate and detailed way. Since I am one of only a handful of law men that worked the investigation from the first day and the only one of that handful that was involved in their capture, I felt compelled to write the story. The need became evident when Trooper Rich Poffenberger, the K-9 officer who was with me the night they were captured suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. I realized the true story dies with the few of us who were there and would be lost forever to history.

At the conclusion of the investigation I was interviewed by NYT bestselling true crime author, Joseph Wambaugh. At that time, I could not disclose certain details required for an accurate book in order to protect the integrity of pending trials and any subsequent appeals. Encouraged by Joe Wambaugh to write the compelling story when the time was right, I waited 12 years before I began writing the book. I spent the better part of 4 years writing In Pursuit: The Hunt for the Beltway Snipers and going thru the writing, editing, and publishing process learning as I went along.

WHY THIS TITLE?: A great deal of thought was put into the title In Pursuit: The Hunt for the Beltway Snipers. For 23 days the snipers terrorized the Washington DC Metro area, killing randomly and without reason. For 23 days close to 1000 law men pursued the killers 24 hours a day fighting fatigue and their own fears not giving up until they were identified and brought to justice ending their killing spree that terrorized the region, the country and had the attention of the world.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Those interested in true American history will be drawn to this book for its historical perspective. Readers who love true crime will be drawn to this book and enjoy the investigative detail and the emotions of the author who played a key role in this investigation from the first day, to being in command of their arrest. I place the reader into my shoes and my mind as the investigation unfolded.


“One thousand law enforcers joined the baffling, nerve-racking manhunt for the Beltway Snipers whose murderous reign of terror left seventeen dead and ten wounded, panicking two states as well as our nation’s capital. Told by a State Trooper who was there right to the end during those chilling bloody weeks of October 2002” — Joseph Wambaugh, author of The Onion Field and the Choir Boys.

“Reichenbaugh brings the reader behind the scenes and into the world of the investigators struggling to catch the killers before yet another person dies.” — Maureen Boyle, author of Shallow Graves

AUTHOR PROFILE: I am a high energy, take charge, class A personality who has always worked hard and played hard.

My passion for law enforcement started at a very early age when a Pennsylvania State Trooper walked into my third-grade class to teach the students how to get off the school bus in an emergency. I told my mother that day that I was going to be a State Trooper. My career ambition never wavered.

I hold a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I retired after 23 years’ service with the Maryland State Police as a Lieutenant and Barrack Commander in Cumberland Maryland. My career started as a road Trooper and continued as a criminal investigator, undercover narcotics investigator, major violators supervisor, homicide and high-profile case investigator. After retirement I have continued my career in law enforcement and am employed as a civilian analysist and adviser with the United States Capitol Police.

In Pursuit: The Hunt for the Beltway Snipers is my first book and I have a desire to continue to write true crime and crime stories based upon true events. With a wealth of law enforcement experience, I feel that I have many stories to write based on my multi-faceted career. I also contribute to Homeland Security Today with law enforcement articles and insights. I enjoy writing from our family home in Keedysville Maryland with my wife and surrounded by our 8 grandchildren.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: There has been a significant increase in attacks on police resulting in an increasing and unacceptable rate of line of duty deaths over the past couple of years. Every loss no matter where the fallen served is felt by every active police officer and every one of us who has ever worn a badge. We think of ourselves as family and the loss of any of our brothers and sisters is deeply felt by all of us.

As I travel around to book events and book fairs, I am constantly asked why would anybody want to be a police officer? That is not an easy question to answer. In Pursuit: The Hunt for the Beltway Snipers, in addition to detailing this massive investigation for the first time, attempts to answer that question. I take the reader into my mind to show the passion and personal commitment all of us who wear a badge must possess.


IT WAS NOW about 10:30 p.m. The initial flyers had been distributed. Before going home, I called the Frederick Barrack duty officer and spoke to Sergeant Hundertmark, whom I had known for many years. He was a highly respected sergeant who took good care of the troopers under his command. I also knew that whatever I asked him to do would be done immediately and without question. He was the kind of sergeant that I’d been lucky enough to work for as a young trooper. He knew what he was doing, stood behind his troopers, knew how to lead, and most importantly gave a damn. He understood that what we do matters.

I told him I was about to start driving north toward Frederick carrying 100 flyers, and asked that he have a trooper meet me around the Francis Scott Key Mall, just off I-270, so I could pass them along for further distribution. FSK mall was in an area known as Evergreen Point, and I lived just a few minutes’ drive from there. I instructed Hundertmark to make sure additional flyers were made and sent to all the barracks north and west. I also wanted him to make sure the Frederick County Sheriff’s Department got copies for all their deputies, and that copies were also distributed to the Frederick City Police Department. I still had it in the back of my mind that these guys were staying in Frederick County.

My next call was to my old friend Lt. Chase from Frederick City. I told him about the information and the flyer, and let him know that I was on my way north to make sure that everybody had a copy. I repeated my thought that the killers were in the Frederick area somewhere. “Make sure your cops are on their toes, Tom. I know these bastards are hiding in plain sight in our backyard.”

“I’ll make sure our guys are looking behind every building, dumpster, and rock in Frederick,” he said. “If these fuckers are up here, we’ll find them.”

“Tell the boys to take zero chances and to do whatever they need to do to get home in one piece to their families. If that means shoot first, then kill the bastards on the spot.”

There really was no need for further discussion or conversation. We knew what was needed, and we both knew the killers were in our area. It made sense to both of us old cops. I could feel it in my bones.

I pulled out of the Rockville Barrack and headed north to Frederick County. It was about a 30-mile ride to the FSK mall exit where I was to meet the Frederick Barrack trooper. I was in car 662, ironically an unmarked blue Chevrolet Caprice that had a lot of wear and tear. It was fast approaching 200,000 miles. My Caprice wasn’t as dark a blue as the one we were looking for, but the coincidence was a little creepy. Their car represented evil and terror, mine represented justice.

I had driven about five miles up I-270 when I heard the first BOLO going out over the Rockville Barrack channel to all cars. I knew this pissed off the FBI command, but they just needed to get over it. As I came close to crossing into Frederick County, I switched the police radio to the Frederick Barrack channel and announced my presence in the county – something we were required to do. “Car 662 Frederick, I am 10-8 [in service] in the county.”

There were a few seconds of radio static, then the barrack police communications officer acknowledged my message. “Car 662, be advised that car B-12 (Frederick Barrack cars were assigned the letter B followed by a numerical identifier) will be waiting in the Sears parking lot,” she said.

“Copy that,” I responded, and replaced the radio mike.

In less than 30 seconds, the radio came alive again. This time, it was Sergeant Hundertmark speaking. “Frederick car 662, can you switch over to the secure channel and contact me immediately?”

Something was up. Something serious. Sgt. Hundertmark had been around the MSP for a long time. He had experienced plenty in his career, and he wasn’t

one for theatrics or for inappropriate use of secure lines; he wouldn’t ask me to go to the secure channel to ask how Jean and the kids were doing.

I switched over to channel one. The channel wasn’t totally secure but was a frequency that had never been publicly assigned. Few people would have known to be listening to it on scanners. It was also unlikely that anybody from the press would be listening to channel one in Frederick County. After all, they were all concentrating on Montgomery County south.

“Car 662 Frederick. Go ahead on channel one.”

Hundertmark immediately responded. “Car 662, we just received a cell phone call from a citizen in the westbound rest area on I-70. The caller advised that there is a Caprice in the rest area parking lot, and then repeated the tag that we had put out over the air.”

I think my heart stopped beating for a millisecond before the adrenaline started rushing in. After so many days of not knowing, of searching, often without a trace of a clue, here was a possible sighting.

“Sergeant, how many troopers do you have at your disposal?” I asked.

“I have two right now, but I can get one or two more out of Hagerstown.”

Not exactly the cavalry, I thought. I sucked in my breath. “Send everybody you’ve got. Have them meet me at the entrance to the rest area. Notify the MSP

command staff – I’ll handle notifying the JOC. And tell them to respond silent. I don’t want to risk alerting these guys.”

“Just so you know,” Hundertmark said, “I put out the first broadcast and BOLO for the Caprice less than five minutes before this call came in.”

No sleep for me tonight either. But unlike last night, this night was about to get a hell of a lot more interesting.

LOCAL OUTLETS: In Pursuit the Hunt for the Beltway Snipers can be found at Barnes & Noble and many Independent Book Stores.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: In Pursuit the Hunt for the Beltway Snipers can also be found and purchased online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indie Bound

PRICE: The retail price for the book is $19.95. The online price and electronic price vary.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Web Page: :Facebook David Reichenbaugh Author : Linkedin: and email