by R K Price
Publisher: Quiet Owl Books (June 29, 2012)
Available in: Print & ebook, 338 Pages
I have followed the Kennedy family story since I was ten days past six years old. It was, I believe the first memory series connected by topic and timeline that stayed with me long term so that to this day I can play it back like a mini movie--a story and a puzzle still missing pieces. I think it was sometime in the next year or two that I became conscious of that lesson--that memories can form stories and if you purposely store them as stories they stick with you longer and with more details.
The trigger for creating this memory story may have been the initiating scene in which I was standing by Mama's knee at the sewing machine watching her put finishing touches on the outfit I was going to wear to kindergarten after lunch. The radio had not switched from news to music after breakfast and then gone off. It was still on hours after Daddy left for work and she had moved it from the kitchen to her sewing corner in their bedroom.
I was babbling on about silly six year old stuff and she was responding appropriately in short cheery phrases that encouraged me to continue. Then she gently shushed me, turning up the radio as it came back from commercial. And as I watched her listening the tears started flowing and dripping off her chin onto my dress. I was alarmed. 'Why are you crying Mama?' and she said 'Someone shot our president.'
That was the beginning of my consciousness of the concept of 'President'. Over the next weeks a jumble of memories sorted themselves out into a story with very personal emotional charge:
- The pictures of the handsome man hanging about my school were covered with black cloth and later replaced by a different man who looked like a grandpa.
- The newspaper images (we didn't have a TV) of John John saluting and Caroline clutching her Mother's hand
- The black cloth draped train
- The horse drawn casket
- The gun salute
- The oval office in many manifestations--empty. crowded, and JFK sitting alone at the desk that looked bigger than our kitchen table with both leaves in.
- Being told the Kennedy kids were about the same ages as me and my brother.
- Noticing how much Jackie resembled my Mama and how much some of the outfits Mama made for herself resembled Jackie's.
- Holding hands in prayer at the kitchen table as Daddy (or Mama at lunch) prayed with compassion, love and assurance for comfort for the Kennedy family and wisdom for America's leaders and the direction of Our Heavenly Father. Which calmed my alarm over the 'very bad thing that happened' and gave me a strong sense of the comfort of Jesus and the control of his Father.
That was also the beginning of my obsession with everything Kennedy, reading everything I could get my hands on even sneaking into the adult stacks at the library and reading them sitting on the floor by the shelf before I was 13 and allowed to check them out. By the time I was 14 I was certain that one bullet theory was silly. I didn't know much about the science of ballistics but I'd seen ricochet in action in ping pong and pool and that convoluted path for a single bullet accounting for every injury was just too hard to swallow. And by the time the Watergate scandal played out over my 8th and 9th grade years I understood that there was always something being withheld from the general public.
That, I know, was a very long preamble to a review. But for this one I simply had to put it in that context to illustrate how deeply rooted in me the Kennedy assassination story is, how primed I was to be riveted by a new story promising to pull back the curtain on secrets never before revealed to the public. And riveted I was.
Price managed to create characters I could care about with clear motives who acted consistently in character and that came alive for me. Even the supporting cast which were all uniquely delineated and most every one an eccentric of some stripe which are my favorite type of character. At times the suspense was intense and well handled. The secrets are startling to say the least.
It was an enjoyable read that I would recommend in spite of a few quibbles I'm about to list:
- It needs a good line edit from someone with fresh eyes to round up those pesky dismembered corpses of previous versions of edited paragraphs. To bring phrases in agreement in tense, plural and pronoun, fix punctuation, delete orphaned words and add missing ones.
- The swathes of text that interrupt story flow with info dump, reading more like a reporter's notebook than a novel. Now I realize this is fiction based on historical fact and I have read novels that weren't and yet were designed to read like a documentary but to mix the formats inside scenes is a jarring disruption of story flow. And I see evidence Price prefers for this to read like a suspense/thriller and witnessing his fine character studies possibly a psychological/thriller.
- Sometimes point-of-view is a mystery and that can't be. But that was rare and probably relates to the point above.
And having said all of that I need to post this without that careful line edit as it is past time to get Mom's lunch.
From the Publishers:
Just in time for the 50th anniversary of JFK’s death!
The Thunderbird Conspiracy is the remarkable tale of Robert Kaye, a Hungarian freedom fighter who claimed he knew and collaborated with JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. R. K. Price’s second novel is also a tale of a Nebraska farm boy who was a great admirer of President Kennedy and a true patriot who desperately wanted to believe his government’s hurried conclusion that Oswald had no accomplice. Yet his own harrowing experience at the hands of his government created profound doubt in his mind, and it haunted him to his death.
These two men, one willfully acting, the other a true victim, became entangled in the most notorious crime of the 20th century. This saga of intrigue and murder was revealed to the author on a wintry Colorado day about three weeks before the farm boy’s ravaged heart gave out.
That man was R. K. Price’s uncle. His name was Bud Carlson. Price stashed away Bud’s account of Robert Kaye, letting it lay dormant for nearly forty years until he could corroborate his uncle’s story with the release of previously secret FBI files from the National Archives.
Now nearing the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination Price has brought Robert Kaye and Bud Carlson back to life. Their incredible story will leave you questioning just how and why JFK was taken from America far too early.
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