Escape From Alcatraz: The Mystery of the Three Men Who Escaped from the Rock
Author: Eric Braun
I was surprised how small this book was when I got it, but then I remembered…little things can pack a big punch. There is a lot of information in this book. It’s well written and it actually has more than just the basic every day, every documentary information that you’re usually gonna get.
Most of the time, especially when you watch a documentary about the escape, they are so limited on time that they really only focus on the three inmates that actively left the cell block. The real facts are that there were others involved in not only the planning of the escape, but also in the preparation of the escape.
Think about it. Alcatraz was like a prison inside a prison. You spent the majority of your time in your cell, unless you had a job to go work. So, these three men would have definitely needed help procuring specific things. Yes, one of the escapees worked in the prison barber shop and that’s how they got the hair. That was one of the Anglin brothers. The other one worked in an area where he had access to the raincoats and contact cement. They were allowed to order paint for their “painting hobbies”. But still…
Someone somewhere had to get them the magazines from the prison library. Someone had to help explain the layout of the cell block. Someone had to help get the motor for the drill they made. Someone had to get tools, extension cords, act as decoys, help distract the guards (sometimes for months at a time). Believe me, this was not a small, secret, three-man effort.
The idea of escape was revered by the inmates on The Rock and many wanted to help just to be able to be a part of what they dreamt of and longed for with sadness and sorrow as their many days of their long sentences went by.
The escape was new. It was fun. It was exciting. It was history in the making. And people wanted to be a part of that.
In this book you will find a wealth of information and a treasure trove of legitimate picture of everything from the dummy heads the inmates made to the tools that were found in their makeshift workshop above the cell block. (Oh, you didn’t know that was there huh? Read this book. There’s so much more to tell.)
This is a fantastic book to read as an introduction to the subject of the escape from Alcatraz. It really does cover a wide range of details in a short number of pages, making it a fast and easy, not to mention fascinating, read.
I was fortunate enough to be one of the few that was given this book by Ms. Taylor herself. What’s most interesting about this horror novel is that it is, in my mind, completely and totally relevant. And anytime a horror story, tv show, film can get into my head and show me that this is something that actually could happen, that’s when it’s the creepiest and scariest to me.
[Side Note: Things like IT, Nightmare on Elm Street, Puppet Master, Leprechaun, etc…those movies and stories don’t really scare me. In fact, fiction RARELY scares me, because well, it’s fiction. There’s usually some aspect of it that makes it a non-probable scenario. Take something like Trucks or Maximum Overdrive. Great stories, and I love Maximum Overdrive. But, totally not scary. In fact, almost comical because I have a hard time wrapping my head around inanimate objects coming to life with the sole purpose of wiping out human existence. To me, since they would need us to survive, it seems a little farfetched. However, you take this story here, Sinkhole, and it hits a creeped-out chord with me.]
I’ll start with sharing the blurb summary I was given that made me want to read the book.
“Could you learn to get along with a complete stranger - or even your worst enemy - to save your life?
A sinkhole swallows a girl in Michigan. Fire shoots into the sky in Pennsylvania. Deer attacks leave people hospitalized in West Virginia. And this is all just the beginning of a catastrophic series of global events that will make you question everything you think you know about the planet, nature, and humanity.
From an award-winning, Amazon #1 best-selling author comes this harrowing tale of a world gone mad. Can anyone survive when Mother Nature unleashes her bad side?”
Now, here’s what initially got me interested. There’s an actual sinkhole in my major metro area that the city has refused to fix for over a year. Then, you add to that the incredible awe factor of Centralia, PA.; a now near ghost-town wrought to desertion and devastation by what is called a coal-seam fire. That’s when there’s a large coal mine on fire underground. For a very over simplified example: Imagine a Pac-Man game board. Now, picture that anywhere dots can be either has been, is now, or will be at a later time burning coal that reaches a temperature of up to 1350 degrees Fahrenheit underground. At that temperature the asphalt splits and cracks open, sinkholes open up and swallow whatever is in its grasp, the climate in the area is affected, things won’t grow in certain areas, fumes and vapors seeping up through the cracks in the ground can be toxic and unhealthy, sometimes lethal. And the problem with such a kind of coal fire is there is no way to smother it or put it out. It’s coal burning in a coal mine. It just has to burn away all its fuel and then it will be over. Unfortunately, that can be decades upon decades. It all depends on how much coal is in the mine below the surface.
So, that’s the hook about sinkholes. But, check this out. Taylor has truly brought to life an idea that, while in a fictional novel form may seem a little outside the box, I see as something that could actually happen in a sense and most likely will with global warming now on steroids.
So, now picture this…
You’ve got the sinkholes dropping ground beneath people, places and things all over the nation. Now imagine that Mother Nature herself is EXTREMELY pissed off, and man do I mean pissed. I mean, we’re talking a whole new realm of pissed here. Like Mother Nature took “pissed off” into The Twilight Zone and unleashed a new dimension of hatred, frustration and vengeance upon the human race. And it’s not just the plants, the grass and the trees, the wind and the rain. It’s the animals too. It’s like every deer in the country has turned into Cujo, but without the rabies.
Got that situation in your head? I mean, the world very well could be ending. Can you see it?
Now imagine trying to survive that with your worst enemy, your total and complete nemesis, the one person that, when you see their face, you just want to smash it in with a Mack truck with barbed wire wrapped around it’s grill, covering the nine inch spikes imbedded in the front end at every square quarter inch as well to ensure full disfigurement. I mean, you have to try to survive all this and the person that you have to try to survive with is the one person who’s voice makes you cringe, their mere presence makes you want to nauseated and when they talk, you can’t help but vomit from the constant smell of bullshit coming out their mouths.
It’s one thing to have to try to survive this kind of ordeal with your significant other or your family, but your enemy? Hell, all would be difficult.
I will tell you this book is a very fast read. We switch back and forth between locations, which are all real places, by the way. The chapters are short and most have some kind of action in them. I will also tell you there is a character named Don who is a horrific poster boy for Donald Trump. It’s mortifying, terrifying and hysterical all at the same time. This author, April Taylor, is very good at giving you a variety of characters in this novel. That coupled with the different locations where many various things are happening simultaneously keeps the story alive, interesting and fast paced. It also keeps you on the edge of your seat because each next chapter is taking you slightly back to pick up that particular story and then give you more. Then you stop and move on to the next location and next set of problems. It keeps your complete attention and definitely gives you a few OMG moments.
I loved this book. Not only because I could relate to parts of the story but also because Taylor chose to use real places, thus making the story feel more real and true to life. Also, I’ve often wondered what it would be like (or if/when it will happen) if Mother Nature really just gave us all the finger. A version of that is coming with global warming, as I said earlier. When climates change, ecosystems change. That affects farming and the species living in those areas. All species have to start to adapt, which means that behaviors are going to change. Eventually, this is all going to trickle down to the human race. So, what’s Mother Nature gonna do to us for mistreating her all these years.
If you’d like to get one person’s very creative and, in my opinion, even possible ideas on what nature would do to us…get this book. You won’t regret it.
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Now, this was an interesting novel. I was very excited to read it from the little synopsis I was sent about it.
--Margot and Myron Spielman move to a new town, looking for a fresh start and an escape from the long shadow of their past. But soon after they buy Rawlingswood, a foreclosed mansion rumored to be haunted, they realize they’re in for more of the same…or worse.
After a renovation fraught with injuries and setbacks, the Spielmans move in to the century-old house, and their problems quickly escalate. The home’s beautiful facade begins to crumble around them when their teenage son uncovers disturbing details of Rawlingswood’s history—a history of murder, betrayal, and financial ruin. The Spielmans’ own shameful secrets and lies become harder to hide as someone or something inside the house watches their every move.
As tensions build between the family members, the home’s dark history threatens to repeat itself. Margot and Myron must confront their own ghosts and Rawlingswood’s buried past before the house becomes their undoing.--
Reading that, I thought this would totally be my kind of book. I want to point out a couple of things that I thought were really cool and unique about this novel. First, at the front of the book, we get an actual floor plan of the sprawling mansion, level by level. Then, the writer, instead of using plain chapters and numbers, took the liberty of using the history of the families that lived there and the time frames they were there. For example, we start out with chapter one, titled House for Sale and then underneath that the date of April 7, 2018. The author does this throughout the whole novel, using the last names of each family that had lived at Rawlingswood and the dates, allowing us to follow each family’s experience while living at the house. Furthermore, the author bounces back and forth between all the different families so we get to experience their time at the mansion, past and present together, as it all unfolds.
The incredible amount of suspense is another score for the author here. It’s not nail biting, pull your hair out, on the edge of your seat kind of suspense. I would describe it more like a constant feeling of suspiciousness and uneasiness, a feeling foreboding and darkness looming over as you read what these characters are going through. That feeling of eeriness follows as you read through each page, tugging on you as you keep pushing forward through to the end.
I really enjoyed reading this book. I found it extremely difficult to find a good place to stop because it seemed like something enticing and interesting happened in every single chapter. It reminded me of that feeling you get when you are watching a television series and you just keep watching episode after episode, binge watching because you HAVE to see what happens next. It’s horrible to have to choose at which cliffhanger to stop reading because you have real life things to do. It was also very easy to get caught up in the story and the characters of this novel. You find yourself feeling a range of emotions throughout the novel directed at all different characters.
I would definitely recommend this to those of you who like thrillers and subtle suspense. If you’re into things like urban exploring, abandoned buildings and things like that (which I love to watch those kinds of videos on YouTube) then I think you would really dig this book as well.
Luckily, this was another book sent to me from Blackthorn Book Tours. And what a whopper it was! First of all, it’s not epically long, just the opposite. Second, it has this whole crime show drama/thriller/Tales from the Crypt kind of thing going on. SO worth reading.
I’m not going to give a whole lot of information about what happens but, I will give you a quick little rundown of the premise, just so you know what you’re getting.
This story is about a young man named Kyle Broder and his former professor William Lansing. Now, Kyle will tell you that Professor Lansing was instrumental in his pursuit of becoming an author. In the end, Kyle has ended up making his money being an agent for other authors, until he gets his own off the ground, of course. All the while, Kyle has a nice little spot, a girlfriend and has just landed the newest and hottest author account on the market.
Meanwhile, in between teaches others the finer points of the creative craft, he himself has spent the last ten years cooking up his first novel, his masterpiece. Lansing treats this manuscript as if it were his legacy. And though that may be his intention, he runs into some…shall we say obstructions…and detours. Nevertheless, the professor is determined in his venture. And the first person he wants to read his priceless work of art, the only person he trusts to read it, is his former student, Kyle Broder.
But Kyle is busy with his new Rockstar author client and frankly, a little underwhelmed when he takes his first glimpse at a few pages.
Things start to become more and more strange in Kyle’s view as he tries to figure out how to maintain his job, his relationship and handle the professor. It’s just a matter of in which direction things will go off the rails.
The whole time I was reading this I could see a great setup for a series. I also kept picturing the story running in my head as a Tales from the Crypt or Twilight Zone episode. There was a special craft to the way this particular book was written and the way it pulls you in. This is definitely worth getting. It won’t take you long to get to the good stuff and it’s a fast read.
More About the Author:
Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of the novels THE DESIRE CARD, THE MENTOR, and SLOW DOWN. He has been published in multiple languages and nominated for the 2018 Prix du Polar. The second book in the Desire Card series, PREY NO MORE, is forthcoming in 2020, along with his first Sci-Fi novel ORANGE CITY. His new endeavor will be as the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Fringe Press and Fringe Digital, dedicated to publishing fiction that’s outside-of-the-box. His pilots and screenplays have been finalists in Script Pipeline, Book Pipeline, Stage 32, We Screenplay, the New York Screenplay, Screencraft, and the Hollywood Screenplay contests. After graduating with an MFA from the New School, his writing has also appeared in the anthology DIRTY BOULEVARD, The Millions, Cagibi, The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, The New Plains Review, Underwood Press and others. He is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Reading Series and lives in New York City. Follow him at leematthewgoldberg.com.
First things first, with a title like Bullets, Teeth and Fists, how can you go wrong? Then, add to that the fact that this is the third volume in a series and you realize you really have stumbled across a hidden gem. This was another book I was sent by Blackthorn Book Tours, the second actually and I was extremely anxious to get to it. I knew from the start that it was a collection of short stories but, I had no idea what I was getting into.
These stories aren’t all your normal, run-of-the-mill short horror stories. Some display the classic earmarks of terror that every horror lover lives for while others are more abstract and shall we say, creative in inducing those hairs on the back of your neck to stand up, your bottom jaw to hang open and your fingers to prepare to turn the page in anticipation before you’re even halfway done reading it.
Bullets, Teeth and Fists 3 is a fantastic collection of everything, something for every kind of horror fanatic. Every twisted tale careful crafted to lure you in and keep you there, holding you hostage amongst the words, your only escape is the satisfaction of getting to the end and finding out what lies in store. And as that sense of relief sets in, the very next piece of fiction takes you for another morbid ride.
I was a little bummed when I found out this was the third book in the series and I was just hearing about it. After reading this one, I am DEFINITELY going to want to get the first two, without a doubt. This author, Jason Beech, has his own style which incorporates the best qualities of horror and fiction. He doesn’t always give you the answer, sometimes he lets your wheels spin…and perhaps, sometimes, it’s better to not know what happens past a certain point.
One thing I want to say that just kept rattling around in my head as I was reading through this book was how much it seemed like an adult version of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. While certainly not all campfire type stories, they do have a certain ebb and flow as you move swiftly through the pages. I found it to be fun and refreshing, not to mention a very enjoyable approach to horror writing. I am quite the lover of short horror stories and I certainly love whole collections and series done by individual authors. I think it’s because you get to see the vast imagination of the author while they still stay within one genre. Yes, it takes a lot of skill to bring an entire novel to fruition but, to create a collection of short stories and have them be a strong representative sample of the immense talent along the horror spectrum that you, as the author, possess, I find that to be quite an accomplishment as well.
Buy Bullets, Teeth and Fists 3 HERE
You can buy any Jason’s work from Amazon and read his work at Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey, Close to the Bone, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Punk Noir Magazine, Punk Noir, and Pulp Metal Magazine.
Facebook: Messy Business
Thanks to the gracious and wonderful people at Blackthorn Book Tours, I was afforded the opportunity to read what I consider to be an amazing piece of writing with genius spread all the way through.
In the book Hot Splices, we get a glimpse into the other side of life as a film student and/or film junkie…addict, if you will. This story brings to life a belief and faith in a group of Film Gods, their impact on the students of film, the makers of film and the actual filming material itself.
Throughout the entire book there are a multitude of film references. Some are obvious and most anyone could pick up on. Others are more obscure and require a little more attention. Either way, the amount of film knowledge possessed by the author is astounding. As I said, some of the film references are very easy to get, others are like little Easter Eggs hidden within the text of the novel.
And here’s something very different. I found this little tidbit to be quite fascinating. These film students, past and present, all gather in a communal house called The Tower. Each generation kind of has their own space, you could say. But what they all use this particular space for…is Flixing. Flixing is when they take one single frame of film and suck on it. When they do that the chemicals from the frame melt into their bodies and they start kind of “tripping” in a way, like LSD, except that in their trip, they are part of the movie they are sucking on. They can pick certain scenes from movies and live them, in a way. Now, just like with any serious drug use, there are sign that these people are taking the flixing to a whole new level. They all get these marks on their bodies, like the perforated edges of movie film on those big rolls that theaters use. Those perforation marks on their bodies are like the track marks of the addicts of flixing.
Plus, we even have film mythology. This was an incredible part of the story to me because it was like the glue that pulled everything together. This was also where the curiosity and mystery lie in the story. There’s a set of films, included in this set is a probable snuff film. The filmmaker has been long gone but, the myth still lives on. That myth being that if you watch this set of films in a particular order it will induce psychosis and everyone viewing will freak out and become killers. Totally a fantastic idea for a horror novel, maybe even a movie…?
Then, there’s the vivid descriptions of the violence and the sexual encounters, the descriptions of the flixing trips, it’s all so bright and shocking, jaw dropping at some points, at others you feel the fear and suspense pulling you into the pages of the story, as if the text can reach out and grab you by the back of the neck and drag you into the page.
Some of the violence is totally gnarly and at times, it’s even intertwined with very tantalizing sexual encounters. These encounters are written in a very visual way, as any good writer should be able to do, yet, at the same time, they have a very technological, scientific, astrological type imagery that is created. But, believe me, the sex is done is a classy way to where it’s still hot and steamy but also incorporates the horror aspect in a spectacular way as to make you get the full film going experience but, completely in text form.
All of this builds to an ultimately dramatic ending, wickedly and vividly described with spellbinding excitement and action laced with raw animalistic emotion.
Truly in a class of its own, Hot Splices has successfully SPLICED itself into my memory and will stay there for a long, long time. I even think it’s one of those books that you can definitely read a second or third time and probably pick up on things you may have missed previously. So, well worth the read. Mike Watt has taken what could have been just simple subject matter and catapulted it into a realm of deep complexity and sinister dreams. I would highly recommend this to any film lover and to any horror lover, for the two are rarely combined so well.
Big thanks to Blackthorn Book Tours and Mike Watt!
Visit Mike Watt at the following sites:
Buy Hot Splices Here
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Okay, I have to be totally honest with you guys and tell you that I about lost it when Billy Hanson contacted me and asked me if I would like to review his book. In case you guys aren’t aware, Billy Hanson wrote two of the Grimm Tales of Terror issues in volume four this past year. He wrote The Wyoming Incident and The War of the Worlds. Two very excellent issues. What was really cool is somehow he saw my reviews of those issues and then hit me up through my website to see if I would be interested in his book, Spider Season. Ummm, HELL YEAH!!!!
SO, here I am about to tell you about this book. First, it is a collection of short stories, all written by Hanson himself. As you all know, I love short horror stories. And I was beyond thrilled when one of the writers from my all-time favorite comic book series contacted me to let me know he had put a book together of his own short stories. Hanson is truly talented and I feel like this collection of horror tales highlights his love for both short stories and the horror genre itself.
Here we have ten short stories, three of them are even actually screenplays, which was something new, fun and different. I don’t usually read screenplays so, it gave a different feel to those three stories. You got more of an idea how they would be viewed as a movie rather than only what you create in your own imagination. It was kinda cool to have a different format for the a few of the stories.
While there were a few stories that I considered REALLY good, the entire collection was fantastic and fun to read. Each story is unique and fascinating. There’s practically something for everybody. That’s one of the reasons I love collections of short stories so much. One tale, titled ‘The Clearing’ was a spectacular story of suspense and tension. Another one called ‘She Was Perfect’ was a PERFECT 10/10 on the creep-o-meter. He’s got another one entitled ‘Paris with the Lights Turned Low’ which is a fabulous revenge/whodunnit tale. And there’s even one that is fairly realistic according to my true crime shows, the story titled ‘Music from the Gun Room’.
It’s obvious that Hanson has a love for short horror stories. As you flip through each page, the words jump out at you, grab you by ears and pull you along for the terrifying ride. Hanson is not only a writer but also a filmmaker, projects ranging from music videos to comics to books to films and more, including the acclaimed adaptation of Stephen King story 'Survivor Type'. The man has got some skills people. If you get the opportunity, you really should grab this book. It reads very quickly and the stories are even somewhat reminiscent of the classic The Twilight Zone episodes.
You can get your copy HERE.
Written by Pulitzer Prize winner Raymond Bonner, this book is the heart wrenching description of a true crime AND a true miscarriage of justice. By telling each part of the case in full, from beginning to end, it is plainly and irrefutably shown that our justice system is far from perfect. This is truly one of those cases that is so wild it’s almost incomprehensible.
In January, 1984, Dorothy Ely Edwards, an elderly white woman was found brutally raped and murdered in her home. She had been stuffed in her own bedroom closet after her death. The man convicted for the murder was Edward Lee Elmore. Elmore was a mentally challenged black man who had no history of violence at all. He had done odd jobs here and there for Ms. Edwards, simple home repairs, yard work, etc. The only evidence directly placing Elmore at the crime scene, linking him to the crime scene period, was a regular latent fingerprint in an area away from the crime scene in the bedroom and found at a normal point of entry of the house for Mr. Elmore to have used. So, this fingerprint is entirely circumstantial, at best.
The rest of the evidence included pubic hairs ripped from the assailant during the sexual assault, blood on Elmore’s clothes and a fingerprint under the toilet seat in the bedroom bathroom adjacent to the room where the crime was believed to have taken place. They did find blood matching the victim on Elmore’s pants. But none of this evidence proved Elmore’s guilt. In fact, when looked at objectively, it exonerates him more than it incriminates him.
First, there was a lot of controversy over the pubic hairs that were found at the scene. The was a debate over how many hairs there were, this piece of information even being contradicted on the stand by the State’s own witnesses. Plus, there was no DNA from the pubic hairs presented at trial, making their only probative value the technician’s conclusion that they came from an African-American male. Next, the fingerprint under the toilet seat in the master bathroom didn’t match Elmore. And the blood on his pants, was such a small amount that he could have possibly been wearing those pants when he committed the crime if he was the assailant. The amount of brutality and violence unleashed upon Ms. Edwards was so horrific that blood would have been everywhere, all over his clothes, his body, his face, his hair, some would have even managed to find its way into places like inside the rim of his shoes or glasses if he was wearing glass, inside the band of a watch. And yet, all they found were some small blood drops, tiny ones.
Even though the District Attorney had a weak case against Elmore they still decided to take it to trial anyway. The prosecutor was extremely overzealous in his pursuit of convicting Edward Elmore. Not only did they go to trial with this piddly little fingerprint on the other side of the house, to which the defense could have said that fingerprint got there any of the times at which he had worked for her or when he had stopped by a few days before to pick up a check for payment for a job he’d done. But it gets worse.
The prosecutor, the judge and even Elmore’s own defense attorney were all VERY close during the whole proceeding. The defense attorney rarely questioned witnesses, if any. He repeatedly showed up to court inebriated. The defense attorney’s biggest concern seemed to be getting the trial over with as quickly as possible with having to do as little work as possible. This is not only vital but, dangerous for the outcome of this case. The fact that your defense team isn’t working to defend you…that’s a freakin’ problem!!! Nothing was done to contest Elmore’s mental capacity to stand trial and it was clear when he was on the stand, he didn’t fully understand everything that was being said or going on. And as the attorney badgered him, it was like is defense lawyer was taking a nap because he was hung over.
So, needless to say, at the first trial, Elmore was found guilty. He was also sentenced to death.
With every death penalty sentence comes an automatic appeal. Elmore and his family were hoping this would be their chance to get the truth out that Edward did not commit this terrible crime. Unfortunately, even though he was granted the saving grace of a second trial, it was an exact repeat of the first, almost down to the letter. This resulted in another conviction and another appeal. A third trial ensued. Yet another carbon copy of the first two trials with a conviction and death sentence to follow.
No new evidence was presented at any of these trials. The defense did no extra leg work to try to get ahead in the second or third trials. The prosecution repeated exactly everything they had in each trial and they had come out on top every time. And the judge made it clear on the record that he held a biased position on the matter.
All of this ended up landing Edward Elmore in prison on death row for over 20 years. Throughout three trials, this poor man could not catch a break. It wasn’t until a young lawyer with a lot of faith and zeal herself decided to poke around into the case and eventually freeing Elmore.
This book is a thorough example of how the justice system can be manipulated to exploit minorities, the disenfranchised, the broke and the hungry. The facts that are brought to light in this book are not only appalling but also very unsettling because it really does make you wonder who would be next. It gives excellent depictions as to how devious the government can get and how far they are willing to go, whether it’s right or wrong.
But, on the brighter side, it is also a reminder that situations like these are exactly why we have automatic appeals and some form of system of checks and balances to hopefully try to prevent the innocent from being convicted or put to death for a crime they didn’t commit.
However, this book could most definitely be used as part of a very convincing argument against the death penalty. I was a huge proponent of the death penalty before I read this and after I read this book, I found myself questioning a number of things, I’m curious if you will too.
By Hulden Morse
This was one of the best fiction “true story” novels I have ever had the opportunity to read. This was such an intense story that, after reading it, I had to wait an entire week to be able to collect my thoughts well enough to write a review for it.
Under the idea that ALL of this really happened…
The CEO of a non-profit help-the-homeless organization decides to go undercover after finding out that five of his districts are doing exponentially better than the others in the country. He knows that just calling or showing up, running an internal audit, that sort of thing will not get to the REAL reasons as to why these districts are so much more successful than all the others, some much more well established than these. To find out what it is that he’s not being told, he figures the best course of action is to actually live on the streets as a homeless person and wait for recruiters from one of his facilities to come and “enlist” him into their program.
Their program involves medical treatment, life coaching, job skills and training, housing placement, job placement. All of the things one would need to get back on their feet and re-enter society as a contributing member (to put it in politician and therapeutic speak). What they do is they have staff members that drive vans around in neighborhoods where homeless tend to congregate. Then they get out, talk to the people on the streets, tell them how they can help them with food, shelter, medical care, work, etc. The people get in the vans and then they are led to the facility and enrolled in the life coaching/rehabilitation program. Once they graduate from the program, they are placed into the job market and put out into the world to start their lives anew. These five districts have exceptionally high recruitment, success and placement rates. The numbers of homeless people in their areas have also changed. But something with the numbers…is off.
Charles Pearson, CEO of Reaching Dreams, takes himself to the streets. Nobody is aware, not even his wife and children, except his Chief Administrative Assistant Paula Hamilton and a private investigator, tasked with the sole responsibility of keeping Charles safe and under close watch while living on the streets. Unfortunately, their efforts to keep Charles’ experiment a secret nor to keep Charles safe are successful.
As it turns out, Charles does get “recruited” while on the streets. But it’s not what anybody thinks. Charles is taken from the streets in his sleep and wakes up in some strange facility, one that he is not sure is a Reaching Dreams facility. There he finds the difference between those that truly want to help people and those that want something entirely different.
Soon, Charles finds himself trapped in a facility of Hell, made worse by the fact that it seems to be well funded, highly condoned and one of the best kept secrets to date.
As more and more details become known, Charles must use everything within himself to try to figure out where he is, what is going on and what the final plan for him entails. At the same time, his go-to gal Paula is frantically trying to uncover the mystery within the company and, at the same time, find her beloved mentor and employer without causing anything else bad to happen...or losing her job.
I found this entire novel to be intensely riveting and a must read. I had a very hard time putting it down and often read until my eyes could simply no longer stay open. It was definitely a fast-paced thriller and kept moving with every chapter. No lulls, no boring chapters full of character description and scenery. Something happens every chapter, everywhere.
I also love the way it’s written. The idea that it’s an actual event in American history coming out at yet another time in society when so many are questioning the veracity of the government is a fantastic attention getter. I think there are so many people that are leery of the government as it is that this story would scare, entertain AND help reason out that kind of fear. It allows those that keep saying things like this are not possible to see that they are, in fact, possible in this day and age.
We often forget the kind of power the government has and how little they are truly monitored; how little the government is subject to a REAL system of checks and balances anymore. This novel is a microscopic example of what some think the government is actually capable of.
There are things that happen behind those government walls that we, as citizens, know nothing about. Our ignorance of many things is not only condoned but, counted upon and used against us concerning matters of all sorts, large and small. A lot of it is of little or no consequence. Matters for which the American public neither has the education, the temperance or the time to concern themselves with. We trust these people to make decisions that dictate the very rules to our existence.
And yet, what if they really were doing the things all the “Truthers” or “Conspiracy Theorists” talk about???
I have to be honest, it’s truly a difficult task to fully creep me out. To be able to impact me on a level where I had to wrestle with this story for a few days just to write a review KNOWING it was fiction says a ton about how incredibly well it’s put together. I couldn’t help but keep questioning over and over, “Wait, this IS fiction, right?” and then I would have to double check the book. Even now as I keep thinking about it while writing this review, it still gives me chills and that all over creeped out feeling. This author passed the bar with flying colors on the creep factor...and still going.
Exceptionally well done. A must read for any suspense/thriller lover.
You can purchase it HERE.
I have literally sat on this review for a week, trying to figure out the best way to write it, because this book was truly that fascinating and that interesting.
What first got my attention was of course the general summary that went along with the very enticing title. The book does, in fact, read precisely like a journal and one of a truly troubled individual. It’s like a deep dive into the mind of what once was a fairly normal young man and how he became a violent sex offender and murder.
What we get in this book is a fictional glimpse into the psyche of an abused boy who grows up not knowing how to deal with any of his emotions, no coping skills to deal with his abuse, no support system outside of his sister (and even that is a questionable ally at times) and nowhere he can consider a truly safe place to be himself.
Let me give you a little background on our young man/offender. His name is Russell Pisarek. He is 26 years old. He lives with his sister and her young son, who absolutely adores his uncle. Russell has a job at some sort of research facility where they use animals for testing. He is socially awkward and has trouble making friends and fitting in. He comes from a very dysfunctional home and was abused throughout his entire childhood by both his mother and his father. Although his father took part in the abuse, his mother was ultimately the controlling factor in the house and she governed with the heaviest of iron fists.
There’s one more thing about Russell. He wets the bed. Not all the time, well, at least not anymore. As a child this was a real problem and when he would have a nighttime accident, his mother went to great lengths to punish him in a variety of ways. She not only humiliated him inside and outside their household, she beat him, berated him and worst of all (for him) she would shave his head EVERY time he would pee the bed. If he tried to resist the punishment, she and his father would viciously hold him down to get the job done.
This type of violence and discipline begets a lot of built up anger and resentment in Russell. He begins to hate his mother Melanie. So much so that he’s given her the nickname “melanoma” because he feels she’s like a cancerous poison in his life. He also has no respect for his father, whom he calls by his first name, Jody, instead of Dad or anything like that.
As we read through Russell’s journal we learn about the difference between a stressor and a trigger in the psychopathy of a budding serial killer. The stressor is explained to us repeatedly and in incredible detail, while the trigger that finally sets him off into actually carrying out his thoughts and desires is a single occurrence near the end of the book.
But it is so easy to follow the evolution of the psychopath when it is laid out for us in this fashion. The descriptions of anger and pain, resentment and the feeling of inadequacy and not belonging, are clearly articulated in this book. So well done in fact, that I often wondered if the author somehow had some sort of personal experience with a psychopath or the details of psychopathology.
I mean, if there was an ongoing investigation and some cops found this journal, they would be having a field day ripping this Russell guy to shreds. It would be so easy for a profiler to nail him off of this kind of material as well. He basically gives a road map to his measured and somewhat controlled insanity.
I really enjoyed this book. It felt incredibly real when reading it. There ARE some parts, like the first page, that are pretty gruesome and not for the faint of heart. But, those are few in the book and overall, it’s not a gore-fest or anything like that. But, it IS chilling and very creepy to read, especially when I know that there are people out there right now with psychopathology so similar to this and worse. It can make you cringe.
There will surely be moments while reading this where you’ll hate Russell and want to throw the book across the room. But, make no mistake, if you are human with ANY empathy in you at all, there will be moments where you will feel for him too. The thought that “something is just not right with him” or “it’s really not ALL his fault” or “that poor kid” may very well cross your mind. And when it does, remember that these people do exist. And most of them were born like you and me. Somewhere along the line in their upbringing things got done wrong, miscommunicated, mistaught, cross-contaminated and cross-wired. The end result is usually a combination of so many things gone wrong which is why these killers always seem to be such a psychological disaster area.
This book is a really interesting, entertaining, enjoyable read. It can also be an eye opener to those who are interested in how these people become the way they are. This book is well written, insightful, has a lot of power in it and seems to have a lot of true psychology foundation. (I know because I majored in Psychology and Criminology in college.) So, it’s not like the psychology of the book is completely made up. It has actual merit as far as I am concerned.
Truly a stunning and chilling read that makes you curious about humanity and question it at the same time.