Pick of the Month, March 2013

 

Fiction

Sly Fox: A Dani Fox Novel by Judge Jeanine Pirro, Hyperion, $25.99


The feisty Dani Fox is an idealistic 25-year-old assistant D.A. of Lebanese descent (description of her favorite pastry, ma’amoul, led me to an unsuccessful quest for them), and lives with a pet Vietnamese pot belly pig named Wilbur. The murder of a young woman and her mother propels her to become an advocate for battered women and promote changes in the handling of domestic violence cases. Soon she becomes involved in two other murder/rape cases. Meanwhile, her relationship with her boyfriend Bob unravels, and she become the target of a stalker who wants her dead.


“We’re the only thing standing between the wolves and the sheep,” says Detective O’Brien, placing people into three categories: the wolves, the sheep, and the shepherds.


Sly Fox is an entertaining, well-written, and somewhat autobiographical legal thriller with colorful characters. It contains riveting courtroom scenes and reveals what it was like to be the only woman prosecutor in 1976 in Westchester, New York. Jeanine Pirro is a former district attorney and the first female judge in Westcheser County. She hosts Justice With Judge Jeanine on Saturdays on FNC. The next Dani Fox novel, Clever Fox, is scheduled for release on July 2.


Nonfiction

Deadly Little Secrets: The Minister, His Mistress, and a Heartless Texas Murder by Kathryn Casey, Harper, $7.99


Matt Baker, a Baptist minister, reported finding the body of his wife Kari Lynn, the mother of their two daughters, and claimed she committed suicide. The investigators agreed, and no autopsy was performed in spite of numerous red flags. Although Matt told the dispatcher he was in the bedroom performing CPR, the first responder (who arrived without a siren) found him at his front door talking on the phone. As more inconsistencies emerged, Kari’s family became suspicious and asked that the investigation be reopened. Their efforts failed even when Matt’s dark side was exposed. In spite of repeated setbacks, they continued to seek justice for Kari, whose death is one of many other cases initially classified a suicide and later a homicide.


Deadly Little Secrets illustrates the problems caused by tunnel vision; the uphill battle to reopen an investigation; and how the family and the public can make a difference. It sends a warning against going into denial and ignoring disturbing signs involving those close to us. “, , , Kari’s mistake was that despite everything, she still loved and believed in Matt, and she never allowed herself to make the leap from suspicion to certainty.” A common mistake. Sociopaths excel at masking their true self.


Children’s/YA

Horses: The Ultimate Treasury by John Woodward,

consultant Kim Bryan, DK Publishing, $19.99, ages 8 & up


This beautifully illustrated book provides an interesting overview of horses. The topics range from how the different breeds evolved to Seabiscuit overcoming the odds to become America’s favorite horse. It includes sections on horses in battle, the movies, sports, and much more. Horses makes a great gift book.


Specialty/Small Press

Princeton Architectural Press was founded in 1981. It publishes books on architecture, design, photography, landscape, and visual culture. Its first book, Paul Letarouilly’s Edifices de Rome Moderne, is still in print.


One of its recent bestsellers, America’s Other Audubon by Joy M. Kiser, is about amateur naturalist Genevieve Jones who was inspired by Audubon’s lithographs and started a companion volume to Birds of America to illustrate the nests and eggs that Audubon omitted. After she died of typhoid fever, her family worked for years to complete her project, Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds in Ohio. Only 90 copies were published in 1886. Kiser focuses on the story behind the making of Genevieve’s  book and includes 68 color illustrations.


Author submission: guidelines are provided at papress.com


Fall From Grace

Oscar “Blade Runner” Pistorius evolved into an exciting and inspiring athlete and was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world. His arrest in the death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp came as a shock. Accident or premeditated murder? His lawyers might blame his actions on paranoia caused by the out-of-control crime rate in South Africa, with people forced to turn their homes into fortresses and hire private security guards who are said to number more than twice the personnel employed by police departments. The prosecution’s case is already damaged by the lead detective falsifying evidence, contaminating the crime scene, and facing attempted murder charges. Yet as much as one would like to believe Pistorius, his story has many inconsistencies.


It appears Pistorius will join those public figures who led charmed lives and then fell from grace. Prior to 2000, the list included Rev. Jimmy Swaggart and O.J. Simpson. There has been no dearth of these scandals in the 21st Century, among them the Governors Eliot Spitzer (D-NY) and Mark Stanford (R-NC), underscoring the difference between the image and the reality regarding the famous.


The Most Shocking Falls from Grace, 2000-12

(alphabetic order - all paid a steep price)

  1. Cyclist Lance Armstrong

  2. POTUS candidate & former U.S. Senator John Edwards

  3. Evangelical pastor Ted Haggard

  4. Financier Bernie Madoff

  5. College football coach Joe Paterno

  6. Golfer Tiger Woods

Commentary

Remembering

Reeva Steenkamp, 29, was shot dead by Olympic and Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius on February 14, 2013. The trial is set for later this year. The gorgeous and brilliant model earned a degree in law, loved horses, and was active in fighting violence against women. She broke up with a previous boyfriend when he turned abusive, which was something she would not tolerate.


Winners and Losers

Winners

  1. Former Army Sgt. Clinton Lovar Romesha, 31, Minot, North Dakota. President Obama awarded him the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the 2009 Battle of Kamdesh, Afghanistan. “I accept this honor on behalf of all soldiers who served with me that day,” Romesha told reporters.

  2. Patricia Smith, San Diego, California. Her son Sean Smith died a hero at Benghazi on September 11, 2012, and she makes TV appearances in an effort to get answers and expose the cover-up of his death. “I miss him and if it’s so secret then whisper in my ear and I’ll shut uo and go away,” she said. “Not telling me is not fair. I want to know why he died.”

  3. Entrepreneur/philanthropist Chen Guangbiao & the CEO of Hangzhou eyeglasses retailer Jin Zengmin, China. Both environmentalists have donated their money, time, and ingenuity to bring awareness to serious pollution problems in China.

  4. John, 97, and Ann Betar, 101, Fairfield County, Connecticut. They have been married for over 80 years, becoming the longest married couple for the year 2013. His advice for a happy marriage is to make efforts to get along, compromise, be content, and let the wife be the boss.

  5. Singer/actor/songwriter Justin Bieber, 18. Bieber became the only artist to have five No. 1 albums before his 19th birthday.


Losers

  1. U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, 59, New Jersey. Already under investigation for allegations regarding his Dominican Republic romps that, if true, would make him the Jerry Sandusky of the U.S, Senate, he faces also accusations of ethics violations over his actions on behalf of a major donor, the eye doctor Salmon Melgen.

  2. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, 62. He arranged for Orwellian training sessions for his employees that involved creepy activities such as chanting “Pilgrims were illegal aliens” and shouting repeatedly in unison, “Bam!” For this, USAD spent $200,000 of taxpayer money.

  3. Quality Services Movers, Northern Virginia. In at least one case, they proved to be “the movers from hell.” The complaints included smashing antiques beyond repaid; losing furniture; raising the storage fee after everything was loaded; messing up the marking of items; refusing to deal with concerns and complaints; etc. Foolish way to run a business in this age of YouTube and consumer protection Web sites.

  4. Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals Judges Samuel Henry Welch, J. Elizabeth Kellum, Liles C. Burke, and Michael Joiner. These muddled judges ordered a new trial for the monster Lam Luong, a Vietnamese immigrant who confessed to killing his three children and a fourth child and laughed about it. Even though his horrific crimes received nationwide media attention, these judges agonized over the pre-trial publicity and declared that the trial should have been moved to a different location. Alabama Attorney’s office plans to appeal this travesty.

  5. Carnival Cruise Lines. The disaster aboard the ship Carnival Triumph brought bad PR and trip cancellations. (For problems encountered on cruise lines, see Man Overboard by Joan Lownds.)

The top priority of the revolutionaries on December 1 was to take the Tondi Military College (above).

Sculptor Amandus Adamson completed in 1928  the monument commemorating the four cadets killed in the December 1 putsch. The Soviets destroyed the monument in 1941. Sculptor Jaak Soans created from photos a copy (above) that was unveiled in 2009 in front of Tondi dormitory.

Jaan Anvelt (April 18, 1884-December 12, 1937) and his wife Alice Marie Stein-Anvelt (October 9, 1899-April 15, 1991) used various aliases. The Estonian Communists Anvelt and Karl Rimm fought against independence for their own country.

Karl Rimm (December 1, 1891-August 22, 1938) , aka Paul. One can only guess what Rimm and Anvelt’s last thoughts were when faced with trumped up charges and a torturous death by the system to which they had dedicated their lives.

During the Great Purges, the cemeteries in Moscow were unable to handle the number of people executed. Thus, the state farm (sovkhoz) Kommunarka and the nearby Butova firing range were converted into secret NKVD murder sites, the bodies dumped into mass graves.

Above: Russian Orthodox memorial inside the gates of the Kommunarka killing fields.

Photographer: Brattarb

Judge Jeanine PIrro’s extensive experience with criminals and victims provides background for her mystery novel Sly Fox.

Kari Dulin Baker, with her two beautiful daughters, and her husband Matt Baker. He tried to disguise her murder as a suicide.

Left: Vanessa Bulls, the music minister’s daughter and Matt’s mistress.

“[Matt] told me that he killed her to be with me,” Bulls testified before the Grand Jury. (see Deadly Little Secrets by Kathryn Casey)

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