Looking ahead to Frank Nagler Mystery No. 5

With an audio book version of THE RED HAND well underway – look for it in possibly March – I’ve turned my attention to the untitled fifth book in the Frank Nagler Mystery series.

I have written a few scenes, tested out new characters and settings, but it all lacked a unifying theme. There has been a long story arc through the first four books. My goal is to close out that story arc and allow Frank to move on to other crimes fighting stuff. A friend suggested he solve crimes while on vacation (Thanks, G.), sort of Frank saves the world, one vacation spot at a time.

But watching the PBS series, “Finding Your Roots,” I had a thought.

So, that show, and some research I’ve been doing for a talk I’ll be giving on March 3 at 7 p.m. at the Hackettstown Historical Society, at the American Legion, 494 Willow Grove Rd., got me thinking.

This is the framework: Frank’s great friend Leonard, the bookstore owner, finds in a load of old books, a volume on the labor history of the region’s iron business, including a nasty worker’s strike.

Two characters emerge in the history: Frank’s grandfather, a miner, and the father of the old Ironton Mayor Howard Newton.

Next, Frank’s companion, Lauren Fox, is being courted by a mystery financier to run for mayor. The catch that for his support he is asking for some favors.

And last, Frank reluctantly agrees to look at an old cold case after one of his police academy students drops a file about her father on his desk.

How does all that fit together.

Guess we’ll find out.

Oh, and I think that reporter Jimmy Dawson is writing book.

 

The multiple-award winning Frank Nagler Mysteries are: THE SWAMPS OF JERSEY; A GAME CALLED DEAD; THE WEIGHT OF LIVING; and THE RED HAND.

 

Kirkus Reviews called Frank Nagler “One of modern fiction’s expertly drawn detectives” (Full review: THE RED HAND.)

Available at:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1944653198/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_H1ZgDbQJB259V

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-red-hand-michael-stephen-daigle/1132368097

Also, Kobo.com and Walmart.com.

Audiobook: Audible.com and ibooks.

Posted in Bergen County Cooperative Library System, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, http://www.sallyember.com, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, Parsippany Public Library, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fun radio interview on ‘The Red Hand’

Thanks to friend Georjean Trinkle for the opportunity to speak about the Frank Nagler  Mysteries on her Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce Internet Radio show, “Hot in Hunterdon.”

Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/hotinhunterdon/videos/2633230310063771.

Look for an audio book  version of “The Red Hand” in a few weeks.

Posted in Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, Paramus Public Library, Parsippany Public Library, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seeking that one cleansing moment that never comes

I was born during the Korean Conflict, but was too young by a long shot to understand that situation.

The first world crisis that truly scared me to death was the Cuban Missile Crisis. The news film of U.S. and Soviet ships facing off during the blockade, the loud and angry talk, and the fear that some idiot was going to push a button and launch a nuclear missile – that was all real.

I was old enough to know that 90 miles was not very far and to know how stupid it felt crouching under a wooden desk to protect me from nuclear fallout.

Then the Sixties – the Southern war for civil and voting rights, the Kennedy assassinations, then Martin Luther King; Vietnam, urban riots, Watergate, Sept. 11, the Mideast wars, and now Trump and the dismantling of our institutions and Constitution in front of our eyes.

One party sticks their collective fingers in their ears shouting “La, La, La”, while the other party rolls out a line of children trying to divide the sand in the sandbox.

We are a nation seeking that one cleansing moment that never comes.

What tripped this off was an online comment by a Republican party operative crowing about a new challenger to a sitting Democratic member of Congress; they were thrilled to have the chance to turn a blue seat red.

Why so thrilled to send to Washington another cowardly thumb-sucking Republican who will cheer as a power-mad president dismantles the standards and institutions that made your cushy life possible?

While thinking about this piece I recalled two events I covered as a newspaper reporter.

One was the lawsuit filed by police officers to remove the police chief, whose alcoholism was affecting his job performance and perhaps public safety.

They didn’t win the lawsuit, but the town did take steps to offer the chief help.

Speaking at the time with a substance abuse counselor, she said that everyone in that town was an enabler.

I thought about that comment when I had to write the story about his death. Everyone I spoke with talked around the actual cause, just as they had when he was alive. He drank himself to death. And I know that is not a clinical diagnosis, but I wondered after that what might have happened if during his life, if someone had put the social niceties and the respect for his title aside, and said that out loud.

But the truth hurts.

And so it is with Trump, a drunk-with-power man laughing in the face of our history, our laws, our lives, just because it makes him feel good.

And so his enablers stand cheering, while I suspect that inside their shrunken souls they are scared to death that he will do the unthinkable when it might be happening now before their very eyes.

The other event that came to mind was this: Last year’s widespread outbreak of Hazardous Algae Blooms that affected dozens of New Jersey lakes.

One of the worst was at Lake Hopatcong, a thriving residential and recreational community. The lake was empty nearly all summer as the cyanobacteria that causes the blooms turned the lake water green and potentially hazardous.

Oh, the hand wringing.

And now, as we live though another warmer-than-usual winter (one potential element in the bacteria growth that caused the HABs) the politicians are promising money and studies and programs to stop the pollution that has been entering the lake for decades while we all stood politely by.

Applaud the better-late-than-never action.

But I wonder whether it even matters, now the president has declared that clean water rules in place for decades are null and void.

Did our brave politicians raise their objections to such madness?

Did any of them say, “That is wrong, Mr. President?”

When does it become too much? When do you realize this madness will finally engulf you as well?

We can fix the politics.

We can vote the idiots out of office.

But there are not enough face masks and water filters and rain gardens to turn back the poison the politics have unleashed.

The chainsaws of greed and indifference are cutting away the pillars of this great, and imperfect nation.

The dream of “a more perfect union” can die in a puff of smoke.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Michael Stephen Daigle, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged | Leave a comment

YouTube trailers for the Frank Nagler Mysteries

We are preparing an audio version of the latest Frank Nagler Mystery, THE RED HAND. Look for it in Spring 2020.

I have been fortunate that my publisher Imzadi Publishing of Tulsa, Ok., has supported these books with ads and video trailers displayed on YouTube.

The trailers, and the books’ award-winning covers, were created by Anita Dugan-Moore (https://www.cyber-bytz.com/).

 

 

Kirkus Review of THE RED HAND: “A winning origin story for one of modern fiction’s expertly drawn detectives.”

 The links:

THE SWAMPS OF JERSEY

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbtklgTeJ1E&list=UUhsP65gzzjDU1nYTmw2jOvQ&index=28&t=0s

THE AUDIO VERSION OF THE SWAMPS OF JERSEY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KNSW8Ls8Y64&list=UUhsP65gzzjDU1nYTmw2jOvQ&index=9&t=0s

 

A GAME CALLED DEAD

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FT22V9TwhtM

 

THE WEIGHT OF LIVING

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVSlNwqbhIM&list=UUhsP65gzzjDU1nYTmw2jOvQ&index=13&t=0s

 

THE RED HAND

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJ_SROHO88c

 

Posted in Bergen County Cooperative Library System, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, Paramus Public Library, Parsippany Public Library, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When the world burned

Unseasoned daffodils push sampling shoots into the air.

Do they wonder why they have been summoned so early,

Ask why there was no frost to hold them sleeping for just a few weeks more?

Will they understand when their pale probes greenly ripen too quickly, when their flowers bloom and fall before their time?

 

Who will notice they have come and gone?

 

Hearts once burning full, turn silent cold;

Hands stiffened by absence no longer reach for a caress.

Heat too fast does not burn away pain, but scars.

 

Who will risk that touch?

 

The daffodils rise to an orange sky,

Pushed through scorched earth

Littered with the skeletons of those who could not run fast enough.

 

Who will be left to breathe when the earth burns and the skies fill with ash?

Who will be left to drink water poisoned by glittering fallout?

Who will be left waiting for daffodils when the inferno consumes it all?

 

Posted in BooksNJ2017, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Parsippany Public Library, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Bob and Emilio discuss Christmas

Bob brushed the cold plastic seat of the park bench before he sat.

It was an old habit.

He and his grandfather used to sit on the benches on Boston Common and gaze at the lighted trees and absorb the mystical silence of the scene. A whiff of hot chocolate would drift in as a family with overdressed kids strolled by. Bob’s mouth watered at the thought of a warm drink. The distant trill of Christmas carols filled the gaps left in the honking of cab horns on Boylston.

“You don’t know who sat here,” the old man would grumble as he swiped a flattened copy of the Boston Globe over the wooden seat with green chipped paint. “Bums, drunk, whores. Why don’t they clean this place up?”

Bob would block out the old man’s unhappiness. He’d sometimes tug on a coat sleeve and pull his grandfather to his feet and say, “Time to see Santa at Filene’s.”

Bob, on his own park bench, shook his head at the memory.

Hadn’t thought about those days for years.

His grandfather died, he moved on for work, married, had kids, the kids moved on; life, he thought, just life.

But the holidays made him grumpy. Buy this. Get ‘em that. Toys the size of pick-up trucks.

Bob decided one day watching the TV news that none of the advertisers wanted him for a customer. I’m not cool enough for you. I’m not gonna walk around in pants that don’t fit, wearing watches that talk to me and tell me when I’m too fat, too slow, too old.

I didn’t want to be your customer, he decided, because I don’t think it’s meaningful to drive to the middle of nowhere with all my groovy friends, then climb a desolate mountain, build a fire and open a bottle of bourbon.

They probably left the empty bottle behind.

He decided it was the excess, the me-me-me; it was what happened when the Hippies became hedge fund bankers and learned to spin money from thin air and suddenly nothing else mattered.

He gazed out at the passing crowd of shoppers, pushing carts piled with boxes and draped with clothes; in a week they’d be back for the bargains and returning the rest of it.

Buying love, he thought, buying affection. Salving pain with purchase.

He laughed softly. My pain is worth more than yours and here’s the receipt. We can buy something to fix everything but loneliness.

Then he stared at the ground and shook his head. God, Bob, when did you become such a fricking … he looked up and said aloud, “Jerk.”

“Sorry?” asked the woman standing before him next to a young boy. “You talking to me?”

Good thing I didn’t say that I was actually thinking, Bob thought.

“Talking to myself,” Bob muttered.

“Oh, okay,” she said. “I’m going to leave him here for just a minute, if you don’t mind,” and then walked away.

What? “Hey, lady…”

She was gone. Bob stood to find her in the crowd, then sat. “It’s just you and me, stranger,” he said to the boy in as a mild a voice as he could. The boy, whose round face peered out from the blue hood of his jacket, screwed up his face. Then he sat. “She’ll be back. Probably getting you a present and doesn’t want you to see it.”

Bob extended his hand.

“I’m Bob.”

The little boy stared at the outstretched hand and then grasped it with his weak and wet fingers.

“What’s your name?”

The boy withdrew his hand and stared into the passing crowd, the anxiety settling into his eyes.

“Emilio,” the boy whispered.

“Well, glad to meet you, Emilio,” Bob said smiling and expansive. “Your mom will be right back.”

“My aunt,” Emilio said, his voice fuller. “My mom’s, um, gone.”

Bob felt his brain banging against his skull. I’m sitting next to some orphan kid. What’d I do to deserve this?

Stop it, he scolded himself. It’s just some worried little kid. You know what that feels like.

And for that moment, Bob saw himself sitting alone on a cold broken bench after his grandfather told him to “Stay here.” He never knew how long the old man would be gone, but he would return more cheerful and swaying as he walked. “C’mmeer,” he would command, and pull Bob from the bench; the sun had collapsed behind the Back Bay high-rises and they stopped once or twice as the old man tried to remember where he had parked. “How was Santa?” his mother would ask. “Fine, fun,” Bob would lie.

Bob glanced down at Emilio, silent and withdrawn into his coat. He rubbed his gloveless hands together.
“Want a hot chocolate?” Bob asked.

Emilio glanced up and then down to his feet and nodded.

When Bob returned, he pulled open the tab and handed the foam cup to Emilio. “You might want to hold on it a second, and let it cool off. You can warm your hands.”

Emilio took the cup on both hands and raised it to his mouth. He stuck his tongue into the opening.

“What’s hot chocolate make you think of?” Bob asked.

“Breakfast.” Then, “My Mom.”

Bob winced. He didn’t want to ask, but then knew he had to.

“Where’s your Mom?”

Emilio shrugged, his coat riding above his small shoulders. “Gone. My sister, too.”

He slurped up some hot chocolate. “We used to play kick ball.”

“Will you see them for Christmas?”

Emilio shook his head, his face sliding side-to-side inside the hood. Softly: “I want a puppy for Christmas but my aunt says they won’t let puppies in.”

Bob sighed. This was small town, he thought, I could find out where Emilio and his aunt live with ease. His mood shifted. You really need some sad, lonely kid to make you feel better? he scolded himself. You really are a jerk.

Bob searched through his coat pocket for a pen and a store receipt. He wrote his name and phone number on  the receipt and stuffed it into one of the pockets on Emilio’s jacket. Maybe, he thought.

“That’s for your aunt,” he said. “If you can’t have a puppy, what do you want for Christmas?”

Emilio pulled his mouth in and tugged his eyebrows lower. “Someone to play kickball with.”

 

Posted in BooksNJ2017, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saying thanks when hard work paid off

The hardest part of writing at times is knowing too much.

In the case of THE RED HAND, the Frank Nagler Mystery series prequel, that was surely the case. I had written three books about Frank Nagler, Ironton. N.J., and set out to write the fourth.

I had a choice – Go forward, or go back and examine the story from the beginning.

I went back, deciding answering questions about the past would help the series move forward.

That’s went it got hard.

I knew too much about Frank and the town and the story that needed to be told.

And it showed up in the writing, which was flat, predictable and boring.

There is this: If as a writer you are bored with what you are putting on paper, the reader will be, too.

So, I started over by beginning the story in the middle.

It worked.

It gave me as the writer and Frank Nagler as the detective, puzzles to solve.

The result was a book that readers said they like and it captured some awards. (Three of the four Frank Nagler books have received awards. But you’re not supposed to brag about that, because I’m just telling stories. Think of it as marketing.)

Awards are icing on the cake, especially when they come from contests that are judged blindly. Entry in to them is also a way of expanding the audience.

Unexpected, was this line from a review from Kirkus Reviews: “A winning origin story for one of modern fiction’s expertly drawn detectives.”  (Full review: THE RED HAND.)

Really? “One of modern fiction’s expertly drawn detectives. 

Pick me up off the floor.

Gonna tape that to the computer screen for those days when writing is like pulling teeth without Novocain.

Thank you, Kirkus, and to all the reviewers and readers.

THE RED HAND STORY: It’s the time of pay phones, fax machines and piles of paperwork.

And in Ironton, N.J., nine women have been killed, their deaths played out over months as fear grows in the city.

Into this scenario is newly-minted Detective Frank Nagler, eager to take on the task of finding the killer, but daunted by the description supplied by the medical examiner: “What we have here is an experiment in death.”

“The Red Hand” is a prequel to the award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery series. Among the characters we meet are Charlie Adams, a teenage hoodlum and Martha Nagler, Frank’s wife, whose love carries him through the bad times ahead.

Can an old-style detective story capture a modern audience?

It can if it is filled with characters that resonate, has a love story for the ages, settings that carry weight and is layered with issues that raise the story above the everyday.

It’s gritty, moving, probably confounding, but it resonates.

Women are missing. Missing would imply a willingness to leave.

Women are not missing: They were taken.

 

THE RED HAND, was named a Distinguished Favorite in the 2019 New York City Big Book Awards contest .

 

Awarded Second Place for Mysteries in the 2019 Dragonfly Book Awards, by Story Monsters LLC.

 

And named a Notable 100 Indie Book in the 2019 Shelf Unbound Indie Book Contest.

 

Also graphic designer Anita Dugan-Moore of Cyber-Bytz.com for Imzadi Publishing, was presented a Bronze Medal for the cover by authorsdb.com. It was her third such award for Frank Nagler covers. I’m am so lucky to have her designing the book covers.

 

 

Available at:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1944653198/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_H1ZgDbQJB259V

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-red-hand-michael-stephen-daigle/1132368097

Also, Kobo and Walmart.com.

 

 

Posted in Bergen County Cooperative Library System, BooksNJ2017, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, Paramus Public Library, Parsippany Public Library, Sally Ember | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Kirkus Review of THE RED HAND: ‘One of modern fiction’s expertly drawn detectives.’

It’s been quite a week for THE RED HAND. A couple of awards, and an unexpectedly strong review from Kirkus Reviews. I’m humbled and thrilled. Thanks to all.

 

From the Kirkus Review: “This dense, engrossing prequel illuminates why Frank embraces Ironton before economic decline and corruption totally savaged the town. Ironton is a character that Daigle (The Frank Nagler Mysteries: An Anthology, 2018, etc.) brings to atmospheric life in his work: “The sun had squeezed out of the mud the greasy mix of rotten plants, moldy, sweating trash, motor oil that had leaked from dismembered, rusted cars parts, and the musk of dead animals, and then compacted it.”

The author’s pacing is immaculate in this gruesome thriller, as he ratchets up the tension as each additional body is found. He also captures a portrait of a

once-thriving community in chaos as fear sweeps through Ironton. While the fledgling detective often finds himself adrift while investigating the case, Frank’s moral compass never wavers, even when the town and its officials are ready to lynch an unlikely suspect. This makes him almost a lone voice in the wilderness but his gut proves right in the end. What results is a taut look back at the birth of a memorable character.

A winning origin story for one of modern fiction’s expertly drawn detectives.”

 

The full Kirkus Review is found at this link: THE RED HAND.

 

 

THE RED HAND, was named a Distinguished Favorite in the 2019 New York City Big Book Awards contest .

The book was also awarded SECOND PLACE for Mysteries in the 2019 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards, by Story Monsters LLC.

This is the third book in the series to honored with an award. My thanks to the contest sponsors, judges and my publisher, Imzadi Publishing of Tulsa, OK.

 

THE RED HAND: It’s the time of pay phones, fax machines and piles of paperwork.

And in Ironton, N.J., nine women have been killed, their deaths played out over months as fear grows in the city.

Into this scenario is cast newly-minted Detective Frank Nagler, eager to take on the task of finding the killer, but daunted by the description supplied by the medical examiner: “What we have here is an experiment in death.”

“The Red Hand” is a prequel to the award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery series. Among the characters we meet are Charlie Adams, a teenage hoodlum and Martha Nagler, Frank’s wife, whose love carries him through the bad times ahead.

Can an old-style detective story capture a modern audience?

It can if it is filled with characters that resonate, has a love story for the ages, settings that carry weight and is layered with issues that raise the story above the everyday.

It’s gritty, moving, probably confounding, but it resonates.

Women are missing. Missing would imply a willingness to leave.

Women are not missing: They were taken.

 

Available at:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1944653198/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_H1ZgDbQJB259V

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-red-hand-michael-stephen-daigle/1132368097

Also, Kobo and Walmart.com.

 

Posted in BooksNJ2017, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘The Red Hand’ named a Distinguished Favorite in the 2019 NYC Big Book Awards

THE RED HAND, my fourth Frank Nagler Mystery, was named a Distinguished Favorite in the 2019 New York City Big Book Awards contest .

This is the third book in the series to honored with an award. My thanks to the contest sponsors, judges and my publisher, Imzadi Publishing of Tulsa, OK.

From Gabrielle Olczak, awards sponsor: “Once again, in 2019, the New York City Big Book Award achieved worldwide participation.  Entries remained impressive.  Book submissions streamed in from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America.  Cities across the globe such as Bangkok, Cape Town, London, Los Angeles, Nagaski and New York were represented in the 2019 entries.  Winners were recognized globally from Australia, Cambodia, Canada, England and the United States of America. The competition is judged by experts from different aspects of the book industry, including publishers, writers, editors, book cover designers and professional copywriters.  Selected New York City Big Book Award Winners and Distinguished Favorites are based on overall excellence.

“We are happy to highlight these books, recognize their excellence, and share their achievements.” said Olczak.

For more information, please visit: www.nycbigbookaward.com.  To view the list of winners, visit https://www.nycbigbookaward.com/2019winners; and find Distinguished Favorites listed here: https://www.nycbigbookaward.com/2019distinguishedfavorites.

 

 

THE RED HAND: It’s the time of pay phones, fax machines and piles of paperwork.

And in Ironton, N.J., nine women have been killed, their deaths played out over months as fear grows in the city.

Into this scenario is newly-minted Detective Frank Nagler, eager to take on the task of finding the killer, but daunted by the description supplied by the medical examiner: “What we have here is an experiment in death.”

“The Red Hand” is a prequel to the award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery series. Among the characters we meet are Charlie Adams, a teenage hoodlum and Martha Nagler, Frank’s wife, whose love carries him through the bad times ahead.

Can an old-style detective story capture a modern audience?

It can if it is filled with characters that resonate, has a love story for the ages, settings that carry weight and is layered with issues that raise the story above the everyday.

It’s gritty, moving, probably confounding, but it resonates.

Women are missing. Missing would imply a willingness to leave.

Women are not missing: They were taken.

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJ_SROHO88c

 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1944653198/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_H1ZgDbQJB259V

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-red-hand-michael-stephen-daigle/1132368097

 

RED HAND reviews:

 

“This book was awesome! A powerful crime-mystery novel that had me absolutely terrified! If I don’t get the chills when reading a crime-mystery novel, I don’t enjoy it, but this book went above and beyond the chill factor! I was totally in love with Frank Nagler, he is an awesome guy committed to his wife and his hometown. Nagler takes these killings personally and does everything in his power to get the evil serial killer off the streets.”

 

“Michael Daigle does not disappoint in this stand-alone prequel. A brilliant storyline and excellent and believable characterization make it well-worth reading. The conversations keep the story flowing at a fast pace. If you enjoy tales of a detective who wins against corrupt politicians, terrorists, and criminals, you will love The Red Hand.”

 

“What surprised me most about this book was how involved with the story I became, despite knowing the outcome after having read the previous books. That speaks volumes about the quality of the writing. If you enjoy stories about hard-boiled detectives who triumph over a corrupt system, this book is for you.”

 

“The writing is substantial, the characters are all interesting and well described, and the plot itself is fascinating. Truly a story about overcoming and trying to survive against overwhelming forces like corruption, terror, and more, this is a substantial book that will keep your attention from the beginning until the end. Daigle writes with a confident tone, one which handles the subject matter with expertise and finesse. Highly recommend.”

 

Other award-winning Frank Nagler Mysteries

 

A GAME CALLED DEAD was named a Runner-Up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Indie Book Contest.

THE WEIGHT OF LIVING IS A MULTIPLE AWARD WINNER:

2017: First Place in the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards

2018: Named a Notable 100 Book in the Shelf Unbound Indie Book Contest

2018: Named a Distinguished Favorite in the Independent Press Awards contest.

2018: Named a Distinguished Favorite in the Big NYC Book Contest.

2019: Named a Finalist in the Book Excellence Awards.

 

Posted in Bergen County Cooperative Library System, BooksNJ2017, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, Parsippany Public Library, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The flag of his father

“It was a confession, a release of some life-long burden, words left there for all to see, cast into the wind, set free; I wondered as I read it if the son’s soul felt lighter as he walked away.”

 

The dried leaves cracked like rim ice under our boots. The scritch and scratch of metal rakes cracked open the early morning.

This was the last of the old cemeteries on our list, the last to be cleaned up.

That was probably because it was so remote, off a small dirt road, off another small, back road, surrounded by a collapsing field stone wall, and shielded by a stand of half-dead trees.

We never use the word “forgotten.”

They are drawn on an old map, if you go back far enough. A thin cross inside a box, unnamed; sometime later skipped over, deleted, the box and cross replaced by hand-drawn trees.

Maybe the original road was moved.

Or maybe, like this resting place, about two-hundred feet square, it was full. Records said the last burial took place there in 1973.

But still they came, the families, loved ones.

Green plastic pots, wrapped in red, white and blue ribbons held dead flowers from a Memorial Day or Veterans Day past; in places a single small red rose, left perhaps on an important day, an anniversary, a birthday, still held its color among the brown, dead blooms, and blackened stems.

Rakers stopped to remark on the dates and names on some of the oldest markers. 1796. 1865-1867. The children taken young by disease. Young women gone after childbirth. Boys gone to war. Then, Jonathan Weaver, 1823 to 1919. Father, husband, soldier. When did your family stop coming, Jonathan Weaver? Are there none left?

The flag got my attention, resting on a marker that only had one name: Eagleton.

It had been carefully placed inside a familiar, memorial triangular box, the sign that it had  once been draped over the coffin of a military member, then folded, pulled tight at every fold with respect by the honor guard and handed graveside to a grieving family member.

The box was new, not weathered, a recent addition.

Inside a sealed, clear plastic envelope was a handwritten, single-page letter.

I only moved it because it had slipped out from behind the flag box.

I only began to read the letter because envelope had been mud-stained, apparently during some rain storm.

I brushed away the caked mud with my gloved thumb.

“Dear Dad, I’m giving this back to you,” the letter began. “I don’t know that else to do with it.”

I wanted to stop reading, feeling like an intruder, but it seemed more than just a letter written by a son to his military father. It was a confession, a release of some life-long burden, words left there for all to see, cast into the wind, set free; I wondered as I read it if the son’s soul felt lighter as he walked away.

“I’ve seen the photographs of your service, felt the pride they declare. I’ve seen the smiling, young cadet, hair-windblown riding a ship in the open ocean, seen the warm homecoming. I’ve attended the parades, heard the bands and the speeches and the cheering, felt the smiling patriotism.

But in all that, I never saw you.

It was someone else’s life.

I have learned over time that war survivors are reluctant to talk about the hardship, battles and death.

But you locked it away more deeply than most, I suspect; you wouldn’t even explain the details of random photos when asked, as if we, your children, did not deserve an answer.

As I grew older and did some research, I found that except for a few months at sea, your military career was as much a grand adventure as it was a time of treachery.

Certainly there were times of fun and humor and camaraderie that would have been joyful to recall as you spun them into tall tales.

But you kept them to yourself.

What I learned from your life was isolation, distance and a sense of sadness.

Why did you not trust us? Why did you push us away?

I can tell others of your adventures as seen in the photographs, hear the exclaimed surprise of the listeners as the stories unfold, and respond, yes, to the questions of my pride in your accomplishments.

But they are as distant to my life as a foreign star. I want to claim your life and story as my own, wave it like a rich banner in the centuries-old trek of our family, but I need to stop.

There are times when I feel you in myself, beyond a look on my face, or in a hand gesture. It is the great sense of loneliness of your life. It rises when I fail to act, fail to express love and satisfaction or fall to a brooding darkness. It was in your eyes behind the smiles of all those photos.

That is what you left me; I will not carry any further the burden of your silence.

So, I leave this flag here. It is as tightly wrapped as your soul.

It’s the best I can do for you.

Love, your son.”

I brushed away a few stray leaves and replaced the envelope under the triangular box, the silence of this place descending.

Posted in BooksNJ2017, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment