Thursday, April 20, 2023



Where No One Will See

By Felicia Watson

ISBN 9781955065788

2023 paperback release


Lucia Scapetti is a struggling private investigator in Philadelphia. But she’s a lot more than that. For one thing, she’s an imposing, dark-haired figure, about six feet tall in flats and presents a tanned and robust 200+ pounds. She probably makes an even more impressive presence when leashed to her dog, Rocco, one of the smaller breeds.

Lucia has other less obvious attributes, besides a sharp inquiring mind and a strong penchant for doing the right thing. Lucia Scapetti has connections, connections to one of the large Italo-American families that populate parts of the Eastern American continent. She’s close to some of them, but not all. Her dad is due to be released after ten years in prison and some of her other relatives have rather sketchy bios.

This interesting tale begins as Lucia is cleaning up some evidence for clients of cheating spouses, a part of the business that upsets her. She notices people on the street who appear to be following her. Is it just because her dad will be released soon? We are treated to nice and useful descriptions of ordinary and questionable street scenes in the city, along with the weather, all handled in such a way that enhances and influences the narrative.

Character introduction is nicely handled as are early motivating crimes. We learn there are long-missing funds and jewels, internal family strife, murder and near misses. Meanwhile, because this is a real family, Lucia is stressed in ways an outside PI might avoid or never encounter.

Fastpaced, the novel concludes with major surprises, rising tension and action, fueled in part by corruption, personal emotion, and several truly interesting characters. The city itself is a major character.

Here is a fine enjoyable story, well-plotted and well told.


Monday, April 17, 2023



The Spring 2023 issue of “Minnesota History,” the excellent periodic magazine of the Publications division of the Minnesota Historical Society carries an excellent and intriguing if upsetting article. It’s title is “White Supremacy On Parade.” The piece describes in lengthy detail the impact of a major film of the early Twentieth Century on the people and governments of the Twin Cities in the second decade.

The film is “Birth of a Nation,” the blockbuster action adventure of 1915. It was produced by the famous innovating producer/director, and pioneering film maker, D.W. Griffith. I participated in a film history course at the University of Minnesota and had the opportunity to see the full version twice. Originally Birth of A Nation, allowed the producers to exalt the white racist version of the Civil War and Reconstruction, as an alternative to the truth.

We viewed and discussed the film twice because the class decided that the film had much to teach students about both film-making history and about race relations history in the United States, but the two subjects deserved separate examination.

Historically, Minneapolis and Saint Paul addressed the question of race relations and the positive or destructive value of the film on our local populace in different ways. Author Drew Ross draws on a multiplicity of contemporaneous sources to lay out a detailed picture of the city leaders involved, the committees that formed and dissolved, the way the NAACP was helped by the activist community here and the remnants of racism that remain in the Twin Cities.

I was most surprised to learn of the large attraction of local white citizens to the souvenir robes that were widely sought. The story of “Birth of A Nation,” in Minneapolis and Saint Paul in 1917 is a story well-worth reading. Racism is not gone from Minnesota.

Friday, April 14, 2023




Once A Man Indulges
By Tony Kelsey
ISBN: 9780578856988
A 2021 release from
Wobblys Publishing

Most genre fiction owes its existence, at least in part, to personal or significant events from the author’s life or knowledge of something that has been. Some are subtle uses of historic events, other very personal. Some, I am persuaded, are actually unconscious. Here, the kidnapping of the infant son of a WWII flying ace with an international reputation instantly brings to mind the tragedy of the 1932 disappearance of the son of flying ambassador Charles Lindberg.

The parallels between that tragic case and the execution of Bruno Hauptman, the convicted kidnapper and killer, are many, but the novel is not a retelling of the entire story. Indeed there are a host of additional characters, a different location—the novel is set in Denver—and motivations for the several crimes that are peripheral to the reality.

Former WWII ace Christian Marquand reaches out to a Marine pilot he knew in the South Pacific during the Second World War. Harry Thorpe is now a struggling private detective, mostly working domestic cases and barely scraping by, partly due to heavy drinking. He becomes more interesting when it develops he also plays bass fiddle in a local blues and jazz band, although that interesting element is never fully developed. Marquand, an arrogant talented wealthy man explains to Harry that he’s getting a series of nasty and threatening letters. He wants Harry to find the sender and stop the letters. He offers an inordinate amount of money as a fee, something that should have been a first-line clue to Harry. It isn’t and that’s a clue that Harry Thorpe is not a first-class detective. He’s actually more of an alcoholic than an investigator.

There are several scenes in local bars and clubs as well as some occasional dissertations into Thorpe’s philosophy of life. That view is often skewed by the women who distract him, especially after he encounters and falls in lust with the sister-in-law of the real ruler of this tale, impatient imperious Christian Marquand.

The story spins along in a mostly satisfactory way, there are however a surprising number of factual and grammatic errors which cry out for a good line editor. The errors are small details which do not damage the principal narrative. They are, however, distractions which should be corrected. In spite of the distractions the story does wind to a tidy and satisfying conclusion.