I jumped at the chance to read this when I saw it. I figured it would be extremely interesting to read about the cases the deputy coroner had worked and how she dealt with that kind of job, etc. And it turned out to be that, sort of.
Don’t get me wrong, the author talks about cases she worked all through the book. But it’s more like she grazes over the case, the decedent and the details and fills the pages with her own personal faiths and beliefs.
Now, believe me, these stories could have been a lot more detailed. But you have to remember this is the deputy coroner’s diary. She’s not telling a story per se. This is a collection of her thoughts and feelings expressed in a stream of consciousness writing style. And while the true crime material was extremely interesting, it was overshadowed and lost in the text because of three things in my opinion.
I received a hard copy of this book. Beautifully bound and covered with a fantastic image and an easy-to-read title. But then I opened the book and I immediately saw that it had been printed in double line spacing format. This is the kind of spacing you use when you are printing a draft that is going to be proofread or edited because it leaves a lot of space for the various people to jot down notes. Unfortunately, it seems that this particular part of the writing process was never done. This book was riddled with grammatical errors. Things like no punctuation being used at the end of a paragraph or the lack of using commas or semicolons. Words are missing from sentences a lot. Toward the end of the book the author is purposely evasive and frankly, those chapters just don’t seem to make much sense. The way the stories are grouped together makes no sense. Sometimes there isn’t even a skipped line to let you know it’s a new story. No indents. It truly seems like she typed this up day by day and then just sent it to be published. And you can tell by the hardback cover and paper that a lot was invested in this venture. But it wouldn’t have taken anything to just click the spell check/grammar check option, and that would have solved a lot of the complaints I have.
The worst part is that all that kind of stuff takes away from the material of the book, it’s content and literary value. Not to mention that it becomes somewhat frustrating and annoying for the reader. Being ultra-repetitive is a good way to annoy your readers as well. I understand that this is a woman’s diary. Her own personal private thoughts. Nothing is really date stamped, it’s just the title of a chapter and then the content of said chapter. Which is not what I am meaning really when I talk about being repetitive. There was one theme other than death that was continuously part of the book. And that was religion. God. Not only did she mention God over and over, she kept bringing up ghosts, spirits, psychics and mediums. It seemed to be on almost every page. By the end, reading the last few chapters felt like I was at church getting preached at. I’m not a fan of that kind of feeling. And it’s not that I don’t believe her claims of paranormal activity. That’s not it at all. I just happen to think that she has way more than the average believer has in the quantity of examples of this activity. So, that leads me to question the validity of all her claims. As so often is the case, she really has no proof that these paranormal or spiritual interactions ever took place.
Another thing that I found interesting was her profound belief in her religion and things coming from “the other side” even though she’s a medical professional and as such usually thought to believe heavily on scientific data. Yet in her expression of her private thoughts, this does not seem to be the case. In fact, she seems to focus very heavily on things that not only cannot be proven but also many things that probably have some kind of rational explanation. Again, I’m not saying these things did not happen. I am only saying that it could be possible some of these “spiritual encounters” could be rationally explained.
And yet, I was willing to forgive all of that and continue to read the book with an open mind. But then came the sarcastic comments and complaints about the deceased. Suddenly she would go from a caring and compassionate community healthcare servant into a hardened and cold medical professional that never sees PEOPLE, only injuries, sickness and death. It was as if the dark, gruesome and unattractive side of the profession were finally outed and put right in your face.
But you have to understand, the people that choose these professions, they see the worst of what humanity has to offer. How would you expect someone deal with that and do their job effectively at the same time without getting burned out or overwhelmed by the emotional roller coaster they endure? A lot of people turn to comedy and a kind of detached coldness in order to deal with the horrors they see every day. It’s hard for people to understand that without having been in that position themselves. I have a small amount of insight as my father was a police officer and I grew up around all facets of law enforcement and the judicial system.
It’s hard for these professionals to harbor the burden of the terrors that all manners of society are capable of. It’s difficult to not let emotions get involved and it’s hard to not get a jaded view of the world. Don’t discount the coping mechanisms that people employ to maintain their sanity and some semblance of a normal life when, let’s face it, dealing with death every day isn’t the norm. That is a specialized area that only certain types of people can handle working in.
This book allows a look into the mind of the Deputy Coroner. It’s not really about the cases but instead, it’s about how those cases affect the coroner. It also shows that as someone in such a position they don’t always know how things end. That’s hard to handle too.
It’s an interesting look into the thoughts of a coroner but it’s not for those who are really sensitive about death. If you can’t handle the lighter side of things being pointed out in a time of heart wrenching seriousness, then you may not like this read. However, if you are looking for an honest expression of what one person experienced, then you would definitely find this an interesting book. If you do read this, allow the material to sink in for a little bit before rendering judgement. Allow time for processing of what you are actually reading. This is not a fiction novel. This is truth as one deputy coroner sees it. Remember, she’s doing a job almost nobody wants to do. Might be worthwhile to give her some of your time and respect.
This book is written by one of the very law enforcement officers that pursued Freddie Crow, an international marijuana smuggler that had been flying contraband over in and out of various countries for a long time.
But this isn’t the usual story you might think of. Before I start my full review, here is part of the summary on the back cover of the book:
“When an international drug smuggler makes a life changing decision, he finds himself pursuing a different type of thrill at the way into eternity.”
The summary on the purchase page on Amazon reads as follows:
“With a hunger for excitement, Freddie Crow becomes an international smuggler, piloting planeloads of marijuana from Belize, Central America, into various areas of North Florida. Because flying drugs into the United States requires avoiding radar detection and nerves of steel, Freddie eagerly embraces this thrill-seeking opportunity. Utilizing his unique expertise of navigating a plane so low over the Gulf of Mexico’s white capped waves that salt collects on its windshield, he earns the reputation of being one of the very few who can actually fly under the radar.
While Freddie busies himself flying in loads of contraband for his organization, a team of determined law enforcement officers and a prosecutor diligently busy themselves to make a prosecutable case. Their perseverance pays off, and the walls come crashing in on Freddie. Facing a life sentence, he decides to cooperate and turn his life around. After serving a reduced sentence, he finds love and redemption just before his world turns upside down again.
That’s when two people, once on opposing sides of the law, come together and become friends as if directed by God.”
The author is a man named Ed Hudson. He spent 34 years in law enforcement, the last 24 years spent in narcotics investigations including drug smuggling. In 2004 Hudson was promoted to Special Agent Supervisor with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Through his career he received numerous awards from the DEA, U.S. Customs, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.
So, why is this not the typical FBI agent chasing an international drug runner type of story? First of all, although Freddie was fairly successful at what he did, he always knew in the recesses of his mind and heart that he was doing wrong. It bothered him when his activities or choices affected his loved ones.
But it wasn’t the drugs or even the money that attracted Crow to this line of work. He was a thrill seeker. An adrenaline junkie. It wasn’t that he was getting paid to fly these huge loads of marijuana in and out of countries that got his heart pumping. It was the actual flying itself. Seeing as how smuggling requires one to fly below radar signals there were many times that Crow got to show off and test his limits and skills as a pilot.
Eventually, Crow became involved in some big-time smuggling. He also developed a cocaine habit. An adrenaline junkie with a cocaine habit is a dangerous combination. This mixture, along with the people he surrounded himself with, led to one bad decision after another until he was finally arrested for smuggling.
It is at this time that two life altering things happen that will work together to give him the motivation to change his ways and straighten himself out. He meets Ed Hudson and he has an epiphany about how he’s hit rock bottom with this major arrest and he begins to feel remorse for the trouble and embarrassment he has caused his family, the relationships he lost, friends lost. It’s as if it all came together and instead of looking at the end, he chose to look at a new beginning.
Within twelve hours of his final arrest, he agreed to cooperate with law enforcement and provide them with as much information about the smuggling trade and his own ring as he could. This would not only get him a lighter sentence in his own case but it was the perfect opportunity to confess and rid himself of the weight of knowing he’d wronged and been doing wrong.
The person he was most comfortable with was Ed Hudson. What began as initial standard interviews would grow into full conversations, eventually forging the most unlikely friendship.
This book is the story of who these two men are and how this all came together. The joy of this book is the chase of an international drug smuggler, his experiences as such, the cops and agents that pursued him and the unlikely bond created between two men on opposite sides of the law, both wanting to make a difference at the same time.
A fascinating read, full of all kinds of information and ins and outs of a long-time multimillion or more dollar smuggling business and all the different people one can encounter in such areas of that kind of business.
My only criticism would be that it can be a little slow moving at times. However, those are the parts of the book that truly provide a wealth of information. So, they are not tedious or boring. They actually cram a lot of information into these sections so you’ll want to pay attention through the whole book.
Anyone who likes true crime and things like that would probably enjoy this book immensely. Anyone who wanted to hear from law enforcement’s perspective would also be interested in this book. Since I have blue in my blood coming from a law enforcement family, I found this book particularly interesting.
About the Author:
Author Ed Hudson grew up in rural Northwest Florida, where he spent his youth working on farms, toting bricks and blocks, making mortar for his father’s masonry business and attending school. He later earned an associate of science degree in law enforcement and a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice administration. He worked with the Century Police Department and as a deputy at the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department, where he patrolled the highways for nine years. In 1990, he transferred to the narcotics unit and became a special agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) in 1993.
Hudson worked a variety of cases with his fellow FDLE agents along with agents from the DEA, ATF, U.S. Customs and Secret Service. He was promoted to Special Agent Supervisor in 2004 and remained in this position until retirement on October 1, 2014.
Today, Hudson spends his retirement gardening and fishing whenever possible. He enjoys time with his granddaughters, especially when fishing, and with friends if they’re going fishing. He serves his community through the Walnut Hill Baptist Church and as a member of the Walnut Hill Ruritan Club, an organization that lends a hand to those in need. Then he goes fishing. As the Crow Flies is his first book.
Connect with the author on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EdHudsonAuthor.
As the Crow Flies: The Redemption of an International Drug Smuggler
Publisher: Storehouse Media Group
Available from Amazon.com