The Body, by Stephen King

Eight stars

Stephen King’s wonderful 1982 novella, which was transformed into the classic 1986 film, Stand By Me, four young boys to come of age over a weekend together. Set in 1960, the story takes place in the small town of Castle Rock, Maine, where twelve-year-old Gordie Lachance and his three friends are ready to set out to substantiate the rumours that the body of a missing boy has turned up near the next town. As the boys to begin their summer trek, they must come together to face winding train tracks, a brief dip in an interesting water hole, and a great deal of self-discovery. In a story that seeks to explore the innermost thoughts and feelings of these four, the reader can see that emotions run deep and that the ‘tough guy’ exteriors are only a pre-teen facade. King pulls the reader in from the outset in this well-paced piece, which shows just how amazing youth can be, when tempered with a little sobering maturity. Recommended for those who like King and his various writing styles. No need to be wary, for there is little gore, but enough language that some readers may want to look elsewhere.

I always enjoy Stephen King pieces, as they keep me wondering where things will go in his circuitous writing style. There was a strict ban on my reading his novels when I was younger, for reasons I am not entirely sure I remember. My adult years have been spent catching up and I have come to see that King can be a little intense, but he has a great deal I thoroughly enjoy. King offers up a lighter novella here, allowing his characters to develop nicely without the excessive gore. Gordie Lachance is both the presumptive protagonist and the ‘author’ of this story, a flashback piece penned when he was much older. Lachance explores some of the sentiments of his own childhood, as well as honing his skills as a writer. Gordie offers up much development as it relates to his friends, giving the reader a more comprehensive approach to those who populate the story. Through a series of events that weave together into the larger story, King allows his characters to mature through their learning experiences. Keeping the reader engaged throughout this quick read, King shows just how strong his writing can be, close to four decades later.

Kudos, Mr. King, for another wonderful piece of writing. I am happy to have stumbled upon this one and will admit that I have not seen Stand By Me in its entirety, which will soon change.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

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To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment, by Laurence H. Tribe and Joshua Matz

Nine stars

In a political era where ‘impeachment’ has become a buzzword, Laurence H. Tribe and Joshua Matz offer a comprehensive book on the topic. Their exploration is firmly rooted in the academic aspects of the topic without drowning the reader in too much minutiae. The discussion commences with the emergence of impeachment in the US Constitution, examining how the Founding Fathers debated and decided to include the ability to remove senior federal officials for certain reasons, though the list was neither specific nor exhaustive. The Founders struggled with impeachment, wanting to ensure the ability to remove the aforementioned officials with not impossible, but also wishing it to be a last-ditch effort, due to its severity. Thereafter, a discussion ensues about how to define the list of reasons acceptable for impeachment, including treason, bribery, and ‘other High Crimes and Misdemeanours’. That last has long been a confusing and open-ended addition to the list, one which Tribe and Matz refuse to specify. With a foundation in place, the book moves on to discuss the actors in the process, as well as a loose discussion of how impeachment would play out, basing some of the discussion on the two actual impeachment trials that have taken place, as well as the start of the middle experience (Nixon), which failed to transpire when the sitting president resigned. Tribe and Matz offer wonderful detail here, including some of the pomp and circumstance, while peppering their discussions with documents from the congressional record. As the attentive reader will know, both impeachment trials failed when the Senate failed to meet the two-thirds threshold for both Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. There is an ongoing theme throughout the tome that partisan attacks will rarely create a conductive situation to impeach a president, though some would feel this is a wonderful means to fuel hatred or help begin an electoral campaign in the opposite direction. The latter portion of the book looks at impeachment as a useful political tool to ward off excessive abuses of power, as well as how the ‘I’ word has become a regular part of political discussions over the past two decades. As there has never been a successful impeachment in the United States, the authors cannot substantiate how its fallout might flavour the political horizon, though they posit some of the horrors that could occur, should a POTUS refuse to cede power. This is a great concern in an era where impeachment is being discussed with more vigour each passing day. While the sentiment may be there to bring forth Articles of Impeachment and hope for a successful outcome in the Senate—which I feel is no certainty—Tribe and Matz caution that impeachment should not be a knee-jerk reaction. There are other means of punishing a POTUS who strays outside of the permissible limits of the office. Before pulling out the weapon, one must survey the potential damage and how this could irreparably harm the Republic.

Looking to the present, Tribe and Matz wonder about how the current Trump Administration might fit into the rubrics they have laid out. While there is a great deal of fodder that comes up in this portion of the book, the authors are quick to explain that there is no rush to judgment when it comes to removal. Exploring presidential censure as an option comes to mind, which would still permit COngress to offer a slap on the wrist without the excessively dramatic fallout of impeachment. Of great interest to those who love constitutional discussions, the authors explore use of the 25th Amendment (replacement of a vacated presidential office and temporary incapacity of the POTUS). Tribe and Matz deliver a detailed discussion of the rules laid out in the amendment, as well as how it could be accomplished in a current situation, though they counsel against its use, for it is by no means a way to remove a sitting president through ‘backdoor antics’. So intriguing to look at the possibilities in a vacuum. I cannot say enough about this piece, which has helped educate me on so many aspects of the impeachment process in the United States. Highly recommended for those who enjoy political discussions about these matters, as well as the reader who likes analyzing the US Constitution through history and modern application.

There will be some who feel this is surely a book about how to bring about the downfall of the current American Administration. While Tribe and Matz admit that they are not fans of Trump—going so far as to explaining that they have active cases against him—their analysis of impeachment and use of modern examples does not openly argue in favour of a Trump impeachment. They allow the reader to draw their own conclusions. There is much to be said on the topic, which they do effectively by mixing laws, history, and outsider interpretation to present a well-rounded and thorough exploration of this thorniest of topics. Broken into six comprehensive chapters, the authors take their time and build a better understanding for each angle of impeachment, so the reader is not making an ignorant choice for themselves. Filled with many substantial arguments to help provide much more than a primer could on the topic. Tribe and Matz also issue dire warnings about getting pulled into the middle of a partisan swamp, which could lead to significant blowback and, as some have cited, a potential Civil War. While this all seems a little far-fetched, nothing really surprises me any longer. Politics has always been an odd beast!

Kudos, Messrs. Tribe and Matz, for such a wonderful piece. I feel much better educated and wait to see what other political permutations await between now and the next presidential election in 2020.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

AntiAmerica, by T. K. Falco

Eight stars

I was recently approached by T.K. Falco to review their debut novel about the perils of cyber-espionage. Veiled in secrecy and a lot of poignant events that could play out any day now, I dove in, hoping to find something to my liking. America’s foundation is somewhat rattled by the presence of an anarchist group calling themselves AntiAmerica. Their attempts to bring down the government by any means necessary have been garnering much media attention, though this is not the reason Alanna Blake has been keeping her eye on these hacktivists. Her ex-boyfriend has gone missing and there are rumours he may have joined the cause. When Alanna is approached by federal agents to help them locate Javier, she is sceptical at first, but their dogged determination has forced Alanna to use some of her own hacking skills to stay one step ahead. While Alanna digs deeper, she learns that the underbelly of AntiAmerica is more than simply bombing cities and hacking into banks. It includes work through the Dark Net, a place that most people would never dare creep. While she is being contacted by a mysterious hacker, Alanna seeks to find Javier before the feds have the chance, as they are sure to enact maximum punishment for the events stunning the American public. The race is on and there is little time to waste, especially as someone appears to be watching Alanna at every turn. She may have to work harder than she thought, while revealing secrets she vowed would never see the light of day. Falco offers up an interesting premise in this piece, which will surely impress those who enjoy espionage novels with a 21st century spin. The jury is still out for me, though I was able to devour the story in a single sitting.

I am the first to admit that I am not as tech savvy as many in the world today, but I am able to communicate effectively to convey my opinions (case in point here). However, there is something about cyber-espionage that I find interesting. Perhaps, that it is faceless and can be perpetrated in so many ways. T.K. Falco, the self-proclaimed nomad blogger brings the reader an interesting story here, full of twists and dramatic effect. Alanna Blake proves to be an interesting character who suits the role of protagonist perfectly. A runaway, Alanna has learned to make it on the streets of Miami and stay one step ahead of those looking for her. With ties to the hacking world, Alanna has honed her skills and knows how to clean-up her digital breadcrumbs. Foisted into this mission to locate her ex-boyfriend, Alanna will do whatever she can to keep him safe without blowing her own cover. Faced with a slew of hackers and people seeking to bring her down, Alanna relies on her skills, which appear to be plentiful. The handful of other characters who pepper the pages of this book help shape the intrigue, which does not stop until the last sentence. Taking on many roles, Falco is able to shape their story effectively with a decent-sized cast. The story itself is well-paced and keeps the reader’s attention. Its brevity makes it difficult to stray too far off the beaten path, but Falco effectively develops the story with just enough mystery to keep the reader guessing. Interestingly enough, a friend of mine was approached to read this book, but had to decline. She mentioned that she could “not have this title seen on my blog”. Has America reached such a point that there is fear to even be seen to read something that may profess a desire to rock the boat? Need we worry that reading or speaking out against troublesome practices might see a person ostracized, or worse? Should anything that may upset those who sit atop the crazed political pyramid be hidden away and read under bedcovers, as the aforementioned reviewer might be feeling with her refusal to have her name listed as someone caught flipping the pages of this text? Talk of anarchy and overthrow of America might be in order if this is the only way to shake some sense back into things. Then again, that’s just my opinion as I exert my freedoms here in Canada.

Kudos, T.K. Falco, for opening a discussion that needs to be had. I can only hope you will be back with more in the coming years.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Battle for England: Women at War in Medieval England, by Austin Hernon

Seven stars

I was asked by the publisher if I might be interested in reading and reviewing this series debut by Austin Hernon. With little foreknowledge of the topic, though a strong passion for all things political, I thought that it would be a wonderful experience to expand my horizons. The Magna Carta is surely one of the foundational documents in all of history, exploring the codification of laws, thereby making them easier to enforce. The signing of the Magna Carta was to have brought peace to the land, though England is in total disarray in the early thirteenth century. King John is on the Throne, but has lost large swaths of land, both in England and France. He has been excommunicated by a pope who seeks to control all under a Catholic Church that remains a force the world over. The English themselves have seen the country turn on itself and they seek a leader; one who will not shirk responsibility. Throughout all this, there are two women holding down their respective fortresses for the King: Nicholaa of Lincoln and Matilda of Laxton. Their hereditary holding of the position adds not only pride of country, but respectability of lineage to their position. Will they be able to hold firm, or will these women be pushed aside as England deteriorates more each day? An interesting premise and start to a series by Hernon. While I cannot say I was completely enthralled, I cannot fault him for his efforts.

I will be the first to admit that I am not always drawn by historical novels. I have my niches and usually stick to them, though I am willing to try something a little different to explore new and exciting periods in time. While some may say this makes me ineligible to properly review such a book, I feel I might be the perfect candidate, as the author’s responsibility to lure me in is even stronger. Hernon did not do so, though I do not feel it was because of poor writing or faulty character development. I simply am not interested in some of the goings-on during this time. As the reader learns a little more about Nicholaa and Matilda, they will discover that these women are by no means dainty and swooning. They are ready to kill a man if it means protecting their ancestral land and do so for the King. Hernon depicts them as strong-willed and powerful in their own ways, refusing to back down from a challenge. For those who read through the series, this will surely be an interesting development aspect and one that will be key as the narrative develops. Many of the others who surround these women have their own perspectives—as depicted in different chapters, when characters offer their bird’s eye view—and things come out in the narrative to help shape these men and women. Their presence here is not simply to move the story along, but to enrich the characters of Nicholaa and Matilda. The story seemed decent, though I was less than enthralled from the outset. Much on battle and little on politics, which left me wanting more. That said, this is not my area and so I entered this read looking for something that was not there. My fault, perhaps. Still, Hernon does well with his descriptions, narrative, and great banter in well-paced dialogue. I am sure there will be many who enjoy this piece, which will make it a gem for them. I am not one and will let the ‘experts’ continue on with the series!

Kudos, Mr. Hernon, for this enlightening piece, even if it fell short for me. I hope you find a large collection of fans for it, as it seems to be well constructed.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Bitching Bits of Bone, by Dr. Norman Mounter

Seven stars

When I received a message from Dr. Norman Mounter, seeking that I read his latest publication, I could not wait to discover what the author had penned or how I would feel about it. His premise was simple, yet somewhat complex at the same time. ‘What prompted Geoffrey Chaucer to write The Canterbury Tales? And what became of him afterwards?’ I will be the first to admit, I am no Chaucer fan, nor have I ever had the inclination to read the Canterbury Tales—I suppose I did not inherit those English teacher genes from my father—but I am usually open to something a little off the beaten path. Plus, with a title as scandalous as the one presented here, how could I refuse? Mounter reveals all in his fourteenth-century tale that explores some of the events that led Chaucer to come upon a number of individuals whose personal vignettes were worthy of addition into a larger poetic expression. There are both delights and horrors, some events so graphic that they will make your skin crawl, but all told in as realistic and detailed prose as one would likely have uncovered with the locals who had little interested in censoring their speech. Church and State prove not only to be intertwined, but make strange bedfellows, at times taking a young maiden along with them for a pox-filled night of glorious debauchery. Mounter brings the journey to Canterbury alive and provides Geoffrey Chaucer with more personal characteristics than are present in the classic piece of English literature. Most likely a stunning piece for those who love such things, though as an outsider, I felt as though I played my part and did not emerge contented. But, such be the nature of the beast at times.

One cannot always expect to love a book, especially if it is written from outside one’s zone of comfort. It does raise the question about whether someone with little interested in a topic beforehand ought to pen reviews of books, which may skew the sentiment and overall passion that others would feel for the piece. While I choose not to wade too deeply into the debate, I can admit that since the author sought me out, my voice should not be diluted. Additionally, there are times when books should be held to play a role other than to entertain, but also to lure the reader into the middle of its plot. This book did not do this for me, though I refuse to pan it entirely for that shortcoming. Mounter does offer up a wonderful story related to Geoffrey Chaucer and those he met during his foray through England. The details attributed to many of the characters kept me raising my eyebrows. I will admit that I could picture some of them as they developed, even if I was not entirely taken by their presence. From powerful clergymen to pox-filled whores, the vivid description, both in the narrative and through recounting dialogue help bring these folks to life in many ways. The story seemed sound and Mounter surely has researched the topic, as well as injected some of his own creative sentiments throughout. I can only hope that those who enjoyed Chaucer’s epic Canterbury Tales will find something interesting herein. I can say this for Mounter, if nothing else: he surely loves to find a way to use the title in the story proper, for it comes up in some form or another in most every part of the book. I have even found myself using it when speaking to others, creating a meaning to fit my need for its use. One might also say that Mounter is accurate in his depiction of the time period and those aspects of Chaucer’s journey, so there is that. Entertaining for some and riveting for others, though I find myself unable to admit to either aspect entirely.

Kudos, Dr. Mounter, for this interesting piece. I am pleaded to have said I tried, though will by no means feel as though I succeeded in wanting to know more about Chaucer or his misadventures!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The “Down Goes Brown” History of the NHL: The World’s Most Beautiful Sport, the World’s Most Ridiculous League, by Sean McIndoe

Nine stars

In the craziness that is the National Hockey League (NHL), even diehard fans can only retain so much information outside the regular statistics that help fuel the best fantasy hockey picks. Sean McIndoe provides readers with a detailed history of the NHL, though chooses not to recount many of the better-known aspects. Instead, he regales the reader with little-known (or long forgotten) facts that helped fuel many of the League’s successes and downfalls. From a collection of teams that had a labour dispute an hour before the first puck-drop through to teams and players trying to make precedents with contracts and trade, while also including the details around all of the League’s expansions, McIndoe illustrates that the NHL was not always a multi-billion dollar business. Its decisions were rarely rational when it came to simple choices (the spinning wheel to decide whether Buffalo or Vancouver should get the first pick in the expansion draft), but always intriguing to the curious fan. This League that has been around for over a century has seen its fair share of drama, gaffes, and moments that are buried in the history books, but it is also one that fans can enjoy. McIndoe simply seeks to entertain those who love the game with the lighter side of events. Recommended for those who love hockey and enjoy learning about the nuances that have made the game what it is today, even if that means hearing about Gary Bettman and all his apparent achievements.

When I noticed this book had been published, I wanted to give it a try. Being a lifelong NHL fan, as well as someone who enjoys history, I could not pass up the opportunity. McIndoe offers not only a glimpse into the creation of the League, but also discovers some of the trivia-worthy pieces of information that made me enjoy it all the more. From little known skirmishes to blockbuster trades that never saw the light of day, McIndoe has used a great deal of time, culling the history books, to find the perfect collection of vignettes to educate and entertain the reader in equal measure. I would likely still have wanted to read the book had it been one thousand pages, as McIndoe writes so seamlessly and keeps the reader enthralled with both stories and rules that have been dusted off after rarely being used. Hockey would not be the same without its bumps and bruises, though I would not have it any other way!

Kudos, Mr. McIndoe, for this masterful collection. I hope other hockey fans will find it as amusing as I did!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Target: Alex Cross (Alex Cross #26), by James Patterson

Seven stars

In the craziness that is James Patterson’s massive collection of collaborative efforts, it is hard to find something that truly has the ‘Patterson flavour’ any longer. While he has shuffled many of his series and one-off novels to others, the Alex Cross novels remain solely his, allowing fans to see where he has taken his longest-serving protagonist over two decades. In this novel, Alex Cross and the rest of the country are stunned by the death of the President of the United States, an event that resonates, no matter one’s political leanings. As the country seeks to brush itself off, Washington is stunned by a new set of murders, including one of a sitting US senator. Alex is pulled in to work the case by the FBI, which forces him to keep his wife, Chief of Detectives Bree Stone, away from the action. As they work, the case seems somewhat open and shut, with a suspect all but pointing to where they committed the crime. Then, things take a definite turn. Multiple murders of several high-ranking officials lead Cross and the FBI to feel that there might be an international threat to the United States. It’s no longer a criminal they seek, but a country ready to do whatever it takes to weaken America. With nuclear weapons on hand, this could quickly escalate into a war from which no one will walk away unscathed. Patterson does well to amp up the action as Alex Cross continues to entertain, in his twenty-sixth novel. Recommended to series fans and those who want to ride the wave of international meddling in American affairs.

It is becoming harder for me to find myself hooked on James Patterson series of late. While I have come to really enjoy some of his long-running collections, they begin to get a little stale or outlive their run. Alex Cross has always been a stalwart for me, something on which I can rely. While the characters age, Alex never lets that dilute his work on crimes or his passion for family. Still, one must begin to wonder if there is a time and place to let him hang up the cuffs and enjoy those around him. I began to feel that way about this book, as things have become somewhat stagnant. The crime is surely out of this world—well, country—but I was left wondering if things simply have run out for Alex Cross and if he needs to let someone else take over. Cross is a remarkable man and his character is second to none, though I think it is not him that is so bothersome, but some of the corny interactions he has with patients and his own family that has me soured. Great kids, lovely wife, and a funny grandmother, but it’s just a little too hokey in the dialogue. I’d never want Patterson to wipe them out, for that his the Cross foundation and all that keeps him sane. Still, they tend to grate on my nerves, which spills over to creating an animosity for me as I read. The premise of the story is great and could really have worked well. I think it needed some more grit, something deeper and more intense. There are some wonderful political and criminal elements in the story that I would love to see in a series (or one-off) that can dedicate time to this sort of political thriller, but Patterson’s use of short chapters and hokey family sub-plots were not for me. An easy read and I will always keep Patterson around for that, but could it be that Alex Cross novels are falling victim to James Patterson Syndrome? Might they be selling for the name on the cover and not the quality of the writing? We can at least applaud him for a wonderful cliffhanger ending!

Kudos, Mr. Patterson, for keeping Alex Cross going. I know I can be tough, but I think it’s fair game when you are so established and basking in fortune

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Ten Two Jack (The Hunt for Reacher #10), by Diane Capri

Seven stars

The hunt continues for Jack Reacher in this well-developed series by Diane Capri, paralleling some of the work done by her close friend, Lee Child. While still on the hunt for Reach, FBI Special Agent Kim Otto is home in Detroit, awaiting her next lead. She is approached by a DEA agent who has some information that might help her investigation. Reacher is said to have been associated with two women out West, one of whom is married to a somewhat nefarious businessman, likely dabbling in the drug trade. While Otto travels to St. Louis to garner some more information, she discovers that the women—twins—have been missing and the husband has hired an investigator to locate them. While trying to piece the puzzle together, Otto meets this investigator, who seems more intent on trying to scuttle her progress than anything else. Otto is left with more questions than answers and connects with her partner, Carlos Gaspar, down in Houston, where he has been working some angles on his own. Meanwhile, in the shadows a figure is trying to lock down his sizeable stash of opioids, ready to hit the streets. These two women might be the only thing standing in his way to a successful business venture, though the mysterious Jack Reacher is also a hurdle that must be neutralised. Working a few leads, Otto and Gaspar find themselves travelling a great deal to find Reacher, discovering his connection to one of the twins and how things might not be entirely as they seem. Capri works her magic again and ties this story in nicely to one of Lee Child’s Reacher novels. Those who enjoy the series will find something in this piece to whet their appetites. Recommended for those who enjoy both the Reacher novels and the Hunt for Reacher series.

Capri keeps things fast-paced, which allows the reader to stay focused on the endgame without getting too bogged down. I found myself enjoying this novel, though was at times a little overwhelmed with all the twists and turns that emerged from the subplots. Otto and Gaspar retain their protagonist roles, working the narrative effectively as they travel and seek to find Jack Reacher once and for all. Of course, they end up in the middle of a case that sees themselves diverting attention from the ultimate goal. Some of the other characters prove exciting and alluring as they push things in one direction or another, without hijacking the narrative. Touching on some of the poignant topics of the day, Capri gives the reader some insight into opioids and their trafficking around America, while also posing the question of how Reacher fits into the larger web. The story was highly entertaining and the chapters flowed very well, keeping me hooked throughout and hoping to learn a great deal more. I am eager to see where Capri takes things, though I am still finding it hard to fathom that this is all taking place in a compacted time period, while Reacher’s nomadic adventures seem paced out over years. Something to chew on for a bit, I suppose.

Kudos, Madam Capri, for another wonderful novel in the series. I have recommended you to many others and will continue to do so.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Mindfield, by William Deverell

Seven stars

William Deverell has dazzled fans with his wonderful writing on all things involving the Canadian legal system. However, he stepped back with this piece to offer up something quasi-psychological with a dash of mystery. Kellen O’Reilly has served as a police officer in Montreal for many years. There was a period of time spent spent in a psychiatrist clinic, where he was part of an ongoing set of tests, but his recollection of those events are fuzzy at best. Now, 25 years later, he is having horrible flashbacks about his time there, when mild-altering drugs were used to implant suggestions into his memory, including the death of O’Reilly’s own father. Meanwhile, Sarah Parardis is trying to bring suit against the doctor who ran the clinic, Dr. Satorius, claiming that it was the site of CIA testing over a long period of time. Seeking damages for many of the victims, Paradis is being stonewalled by the Agency and cannot produce any records, presumably because Satorius destroyed them when things got out of hand. When Paradis and O’Reilly come together on an unrelated labour dispute between Montreal Police and their union, pieces begin to come together. Might O’Reilly be the key to opening up the Satorius files? When someone fails to delete electronic evidence of these psychiatric tests, O’Reilly and Paradis sense they may have a chance to score a point for justice, but they will have to survive as they enter some very dangerous crosshairs in the meantime. An interesting read that shows the breadth of Deverell’s writing capabilities. Not one of his best, in my opinion, but still quite thought-provoking.

I have enjoyed many of the novels William Deverell has published over the years. While a few have been harder to digest than others, the reader is always given a serious topic on which to postulate and this novel was no exception. Kellen O’Reilly proves to be an interesting protagonist, though I did not find him to be entirely captivating. His past as the victim of serious mind experiments keeps the reader eager to see what he will be able to remember and how much of his ‘planted’ memories have become part of his personal backstory. There is an interesting mix of flashback moments with a little development as he struggles to piece it all together. Sarah Paradis offers some interesting flavouring to the story as well; a leftist lawyer whose love of labour disputes leaves her the hero to some and the enemy to others. She is seeking justice while coming up against The Man if ever there were a perfect definition of one. Seeking justice wherever she can, Paradis will stop at nothing to make sense of a world that does not offer up concrete solutions. While I sped through the book, I found myself lost or lacking complete connection at times. The premise is strong, but I felt myself looking for that gem amongst the tepid moments. I remember that I struggled with Deverell’s opening novel in the Arthur Beauchamp series, but came to love it, so I am sure that one book does not make the man. That being said, there was something lacking here for me, though one-off novels can sometimes prove to be hit and miss.

Kudos, Mr. Deverell, for another interesting piece. While not entirely my type of book, I am sure others will enjoy it and offer much praise.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Impeachment: An American History, by Jeffrey A. Engel, Jon Meacham, Timothy Naftali, and Peter Baker

Nine stars

The term ‘impeachment’ has taken on a life of its own, particularly in the American political system. It has been bandied about numerous times, by legislators and media alike, to add fuel to a fire when an individual in a position of authority appears to stray from their constitutionally-permitted role. While many federal positions use impeachment to remove the office holder, only the three men who held the position of President of the United States (POTUS) are discussed in the essays that comprise this collection, along with some sentiments about potential future impeachment, based on the furor that appears to be growing. The scholars who penned these essays offer their own insights into the events that led to impeachment proceedings, or the potential of them. Jeffrey Engel offers the reader a primer on the basis of impeachment and how it found its way into the US Constitution, including the struggles the Founding Father’s faced when outlining the rules surrounding qualification and its use by Congress. As with with much within the US Constitution, the rules are vague and open to interpretation. Thereafter, Jon Meacham opens with an essay on the impeachment process of Andrew Johnson, the first POTUS to be thrust into this political drama. Strongly against Reconstruction after the Civil War and having been handed the job when Lincoln was assassinated, Johnson was vilified by many and it took three attempts to bring forth Articles of Impeachment before any would pass, tossing the case to the Senate. Johnson was firm in his beliefs and used southern sentiment to have the case fall a single vote short, in what Meacham aptly calls a ‘partisan impeachment’. One hundred years later, new impeachment threats were levied against Richard Nixon, in an essay penned by presidential historian Timothy Naftali. Arguing that it was not the Watergate break-in, but the cover-up and firing of the independent special prosecutor that pushed Nixon into the firing line, Naftali contrasts this situation with that of Johnson. While there was a strong partisan push for impeachment, Republicans joined the Democrats to call for Nixon’s removal, thereby creating the bipartisan momentum lacking in Meacham’s earlier essay. Naftali develops a wonderfully detailed narrative to expose the developing process whereby Congress took steps to rid themselves of a ‘crook’, though the man was able to read the tea leaves and left when hope seemed all but lost. Peter Baker takes up the torch in examining Bill Clinton’s actions, culminating in 1997-1998, which led to numerous Articles coming from the House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee. While some would deem the entire situation salacious, Baker explores how perjury by a sitting president could push the realms of acceptable and lead some to draw parallels to the rule-breaking that Nixon did at will. Executive Privilge became the buzzword, leaving the Special Prosecutor and some within the Republican controlled House Judiciary Committee to launch into a form of witch hunt with the intent of embarrassing Clinton as he had America on the world scene. With a partisan split during Article voting, Clinton’s impeachment went to the Senate, the first in the era of television. Such drama evolved on screen, much like the trial of OI.J. Simpson did five years before. In the end, both sides agreed that substantiating the impeachment claims were never intended, but rather a wrap on the knuckles. As Jeffrey Engel returns to conclude, one must look at present circumstances to decide if impeachment is worthwhile, though it is surely not an act to be taken lightly. As is argued throughout, impeachment is a political, not legal, tool. It is also defined as whatever the majority of House members choose it to be. While many wait to see if Articles will come, now that the Democrats have control of the House, it should not be the central focus of the country’s legislators. At least for the time being, one has to worry about keeping the ship on course, as it enters murky waters. Highly recommended to those readers who enjoy political discussion and historical analysis of events, as poignant today as when they occurred.

There is no doubt that impeachment has been on the lips of many, especially since the Russia probe has begun to gain momentum. One need only look at publications of tomes and essays released since 2016 to see how many academics have weighed in already. Understanding the process is as important and the end result, something that the layperson in America may not fully comprehend. Impeachment, as is seen through the three central essays in the collection, as well as an introduction and conclusion, is a messy business that divides both along party and political lines. The three men whose names have come up in impeachment proceedings did something sever enough that the Founding Father’s might have agreed with the use of this stop-gap measure to keep America great, though it was the interpretation at each instance that led to different approaches to the same set of vague constitutional rules. While impeachment is a weapon used to threaten regularly, few holders of the Oval Office have had their names dragged through the constitutional mud. Why is that? Likely a heightened degree of seriousness that accompanies the threat, as well as the difficulty to enact it—which is not altogether a bad thing! Interested readers can bask in the details offered in this collection, as well as the poignant arguments made as threats of impeachment surface again. Is there enough to bring Articles? Would the Senate support it? While things tend to be political when it comes to Congress, the reader can decide for themselves, after receiving the plethora of information found in this book. The essays are not only penned by scholars, but they are easily digested, allowing the lay reader to fully comprehend the issues at hand. This is essential in an era where media spoon-feed the electorate at every opportunity. I await news from the Special Prosecutor and how the White House will react to it. That may—and precedent shows that it will—prove either the last nail in the coffin or used to disperse discussion until November 2020, when the electorate can speak with democratic voices. That being said, there remains a question as to how fair that venture might be. However, that is a discussion for another scholarly tome.

Kudos, Messrs Engel, Meacham, Naftali, and Baker, for this insightful piece. I learned so much and understand the system a lot better now. These insider explorations of events, left out of the history books, has helped me create a more grounded opinion on whether impeachment should rear its head again soon.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons