Malcolm Bannister is a lawyer that got caught-up in an unfortunate money laundering scheme. Never intending to help a client hide ill-gained money he now is in a federal prison camp in Maryland. As a lawyer and the camp librarian, Malcolm meets and helps many of the inmates challenging the system and hoping to find a loophole to get out. Now Malcolm is working the system as he applies the ‘rule of 35′. Rule 35 allows for the reduction of a sentence if a defendant provides “substantial assistance in investigating or prosecuting another person.”. Malcolm is put in a witness protection program after identifying the killer of a federal judge. Now known as Max, and with a new face courtesy of plastic surgery, we are lead on a wild storyline with unusual schemes never knowing if this is trickery or truth.
This remarkable story of a young man’s childhood and eventual escape from North Korea reveals the astonishing brutality of the North Korean government and the horrors that most of its citizens must endure. Shin Dong-Hyuk was born and raised in a Total Control prison–one created for those who committed some crime against the regime, as well as their children and other family members. Raised in filth, forced to labor even as a young child, watching classmates beaten to death and encouraged to reveal crimes or secrets of others in the camp in order to survive, Shin was forced to watch the execution of his mother and brother. His education consisted of listening to teachers expound on the policies of the regime and then spending school hours working in fields or collecting human waste for fertilizer. For 23 years, his diet consisted of cabbage, cabbage soup and occasional tiny portions of rice. Children caught rats and insects and ate them in secret, fearing they would be punished for not sharing their food. At age 14, he was tortured for months and only survived due to the kindness and care of a fellow prisoner–the first kindness he had known in his life. Knowing nothing of the world outside the camp, Shin believed that others lived as he did–in brutal and inhumane conditions. After learning more about the outside world from a fellow prisoner who had been part of the elite class, Shin eventually escapes to China and eventually to South Korea and the US.He is the only known escapee from a Total Control prison. His difficulty in adjusting to a world of freedom and choice is heartbreaking–facing chronic illness, isolation, inability to form friendships, fear of technology are all issues facing other North korean defectors as well. His outrage at the world’s refusal to confront North Korea over the treatment of prisoners in these camps is understandable and justified.
Escape from Camp 14 is a haunting, gripping story, one that won’t be forgotten and one that deserves to be told.
The weather outside is frightful, so it’s a good time to travel vicariously with our DVD collection. My entire family has recently been obsessed with National Geographic’s National Park Collection. Each episode covers a different park with commentary on geology, wildlife, and history. So far we have enjoyed rock climbing in Yosemite, hiking the Appalacian trail, and discovering cowboy hideouts in Canyonlands. An adventure around every bend!
I always look forward to new titles by writer Robert Utley. While Utley, a former historian for the National Park Service, has created some excellent guidebooks for various parks, he has also written extensively about the American West. His books are always scrupulously researched, and he manages to remain objective about real characters that are sometimes larger-than-life. “The Lance and the Shield” offers great insights into the life and character of Sitting Bull, while “A Life Wild and Perilous” presents incredible details about the lives of the mountain men who explored and hunted the West.
I was not disappointed by Utley’s latest book, “Geronimo.” Like most of us, Utley had heard rumors about Geronimo’s past. To some people, for example, Geronimo is considered a heroic representative of the remnants of the American Indian tribes fighting for a homeland in the wake of pioneer settlements. To others, Geronimo is regarded as little more than a blood-thirsty killer who preyed on unsuspecting settlers. To still others, he is venerated as a chief who wisely led a band of Apache warriors in the Southwest.
Utley’s research led him to the discovery of a character that he describes as both complex and contradictory. Why? First of all, Geronimo was not a chief at all. He was a tactical leader, an expert in orchestrating raids to capture slaves and steal horses. He had a particular hatred for the Mexican population, so he frequently ventured across borders to take advantage of livestock holdings. And yet, he was regarded by his followers as being a great negotiator, particularly when the Apache people were later relocated to reservations.
He also frequently changed his mind, hence the contradictory nature of Utley’s findings. Geronimo regarded himself as a great healer, for example, and was sought out by his followers when they developed ailments. When he himself became ill, though, he immediately sought the aid of white American doctors. He also despised the lies that U.S. Cavalry leaders told in order to remove the Apaches from their native land, and yet he himself was guilty of frequent dishonesty, and on several occasions abandoned his friends during battle.
To what does Utley attribute Geronimo’s fame? Partly, it is the times in which he lived. Westward expansion did encroach on the Apache grounds, eventually pushing the native people to the unfamiliar and unhealthy reservations in Florida, and finally to a more habitable locale in Oklahoma. Geronimo resisted relocation as long as he could. Again and again, he suffered the loss of family members and close friends during surprise attacks that drastically reduced the Apache population. His skirmishes became legendary in newspapers, and his reputation grew, until he became symbolic of the solitary hero fighting a losing cause. He also adjusted surprisingly well to his new circumstances. Photographs taken late in his life depict him as an avid participant in the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in Saint Louis, as well as the driver of an automobile for a 1905 convention.
Utley’s retelling of Geronimo’s life story is typical of the author’s lively accounts of the West. We learn, for example, that Geronimo was an unknown until he reached his middle fifties. Until that time, he had led a life unremarkable in the Apache tradition. He had a family to which he was deeply committed, a system of traditional beliefs to which he adhered and a fairly ordinary reputation as an Apache warrior. It was not until westward expansion and territorial battles developed, that his leadership skills in arranging ambushes and concealing encampments became crucial.
Jason Betzinez, who wrote a book entitled “I Fought with Geronimo,” was an Apache writer whose work Utley greatly admires. Betzinez wrote of the honesty and endurance of the Apache people, but also of their quarrelsome nature and their tendency toward drunkenness. Geronimo’s death resulted from his weakness for alcohol. Despite the fact that the law barred Indians from buying liquor, Geronimo obtained a bottle, drank it while riding a horse home in freezing temperatures and fell from the horse. He lay on the cold ground until found the next morning, dying of pneumonia a few days later. Some hundred years later, Geronimo remains, in Utley’s words, “one of the enduring icons of American and Native American history.” This worthy biography is an essential chapter in the history of the American West.
Special Agent John Puller, Army CID, uses his R and R time to travel to Paradise, Florida after receiving a letter from his elderly aunt, in which she hints of mysterious happenings at night and people not being what they seem. He arrives to find her deceased–is it murder? The local police believe it is an accident, but Puller begins his own investigation. As the story unfolds, Puller uncovers layers of crime, deception and murder beneath the beautiful surface of the tourist town. Discovering a conspiracy that involves human trafficking and slavery, Puller races to save the prisoners as well as himself. Puller is a strong character–brave, smart and brash–the ideal hero who has a strong sense of right and wrong. The Forgotten is a fast-paced, intense, exciting thriller that keeps the reader guessing–characters are not what they appear and plot twists and turns add to the suspense. Baldacci has written another riveting action-filled novel! The first novel by Baldacci featuring the character John Puller is Zero Day.
Others may dread the chill of winter, but he relishes it. The way the frigid water preserves his victims, the feel of their icy skin beneath his fingers…And soon the world will see his victims’ beauty and behold his vengeance.
The town of Grizzly Falls is on edge in the wake of a serial killer, and Detective Selena Alvarez is no exception. A new nightmare is about to unfold. Two victims so far bodies found frozen solid and naked bodies publicly displayed. Both are women she knows and each wears a piece of Selena’s jewelry.
Selena’s partner, Detective Regan Pescoli, the entire department and PI Dylan O’Keefe are on the case. This killer knows too much about Selena’s secret terror, her flaws and the past she has hidden. Soon, he’ll show her she has every reason to be Afraid to Die.
C.J. Box’s Joe Pickett series is a very popular mystery series, but Box has also written stand-alone novels, including Back of Beyond and Blue Heaven. Police from California are drawn to living in Idaho after retirement, so much so that it is known as Blue Heaven. A group of retired policemen are arguing in a wooded area when Annie and William, children who are heading to a creek to go fishing, witness the men shoot and kill one of the group. One of the men sees them and the children run for their lives. They manage to evade the killers and hide in a barn owned by rancher Jess Rawlins. Jess isn’t sure whether to believe their story, but hides them from search parties and the killer until he investigates. What he uncovers goes beyond their small town and involves conspiracies, bank robbery and murder. Box excels at evoking a stong sense of place in his novels–in this story his descriptions of the dark, damp forests filled with underbrush and dripping with rain add to the sense of suspense in the story line. Box has crafted a gripping thriller filled with action and suspense–a powerful novel about character, integrity and trust.