For fifteen years on the outskirts of St. Louis, J. W. Schroeder (J Dub) ran a worn out golf course that sat high atop the Illinois bluffs of the Mississippi River. Then he learns that his partner had been skimming profits the entire time. But even worse, J Dub discovers that he was an unknowing participant in the swindle of an estate and that he was a victim of fraud.
J Dub is thrown into a civil justice system that is lengthy as well as costly to protect his family and correct an evil and sinister secret that had been withheld from him for years. The controlling partner, Lewferd E. Zerrmann, aligns himself with a dishonest attorney, a deceitful accountant, and a corrupt politician to derail a government investigation and an IRS audit. He survives title improprieties and outlasts an overzealous U. S. Attorney.
No one seems to be able to penetrate the isolated walls of Lew’s fortress until J Dub steps up and risks it all to fight for what is his. WHO SAID REAL LIFE WAS ANYTHING LIKE “THE GENTLEMAN’S GAME?”
“Sure you can. When you sign her name to the power-of-attorney form that I’m going to give to you then we’ll be able to do anything that we want,” George rationalized. He winked at Mary Jean. “We’re going to be awfully busy the next three to six months.”
Mary Jean looked at George with a bewildered look. “What are we going to be doing?”
“You always wanted to live the good life, relax, and work on your tan on a tropical island, didn’t you?” George inquired.
Mary Jean flashed a devious smile. She had always known that she and George would eventually end up together. Yet, Mary Jean still looked a little confused. Even though they had been lovers for quite some time, George was still her boss and she wasn’t about to dispute what he was saying. After all, he was the expert.
“Just make sure that it’s a perfect match,” George continued, “and we’ll march a lot of closings through these doors. The estate has condos in Southern California, a ranch in western Nebraska, apartments in Tulsa, a hotel in downtown St. Louis, lots of acreage in Southern Illinois, and shopping centers in Louisville, Nashville, and Denver. All of it needs to be sold.”
Mary Jean nearly spit out the sip of coffee she had just taken. “Can we get all of that property sold that quickly?” she stammered.
“If you can get her signature perfected we can.” George paused for a minute and reflected on his next admission. “You know, having a law license, the majority of the stock in a title company, and a faithful employee almost gives me a license to steal,” he commented with a smirk.
Mary Jean glanced at him out of the side of her eye and grinned. George leaned over and kissed her forehead.
For a first time author, this book was a hit! I was a little skeptical of its greatness at first, as I am with all first time authors, but James Ross surprised me. I was pulled in from the first few chapters and was captivated until the very end; and what an ending it was!
J.W. Schroeder, J Dub for short, seems to be an unlucky guy. He grew up learning how to play the gentlemen’s game of golf from his father, and tried to use his skill to get on a pro tour. A last minute bad choice caused him to lose out on his shot of greatness. With his wife more than a little pregnant, J Dub realizes he needs to get a job, and fast. He gets a job at a golf range and they move into a small trailer. Realizing how unhappy they are, J Dub hopes for a miracle. Little does he know he’s in for a big surprise.
Lewferd E. Zerrmann is a con man. He is a big shot who is not satisfied unless he is screwing other people over and making lots of money for as cheaply as possible. He gets wind of a very talented young man, J Dub, needing work and formulates a plan. He and his partners have already stolen land from a rich old lady by forging her signature and now want to turn that land into a golf course. He wants to keep it running a few years, use J Dub and his skills to turn it into something great, and then take the money and run. J Dub is none the wiser.
After the introductions are in place, and J Dub convinces his skeptical wife, they move out of state and pour their sweat and blood into turning this into a popular golf course. As the years go by, J Dub realizes that his partner, Lew, is not a people person. He is rude to the customers and is coming up with crazy ways to justify writing himself checks with the company’s earnings. J Dub hopes to someday buy the business from Lew. Fifteen years into their partnership, he gets his chance. This is when the story gets really good. J Dub slowly starts to find out that Lew has been skimming cash from the business all along, and according to the books, they have not been making any money because of this. Now it’s just a matter of proving this in a court of law.
The story whirlwinds into court battles, fighting, threatening, lying, and cheating. This is a great story with lots of excitement. There is a whole lot of accounting/business/legal jargon in this book but James Ross does a great job at explaining it to the reader as you go along without causing us to get confused or bored. The ending is fantastic and the characters are amazing and full of life. I would recommend this story to anyone who is looking for a great read. J Dub just wants what is best for his family and finds a lot of hardships along the way. I think most people can identify with him, which makes this all the better to read.
by Simon Barrett in Book Reviews
This is James Ross’ first exploration into the literary world, and he should pat himself on the back for producing a very well designed and executed story. I like my heroes heroic and my villains villainous, and Ross delivers.
Being a book reviewer, I maybe treat reading a little different from most people. I pick up a book, check the number of pages, the typeface, and font size. Lifetime Loser based on my reading criteria looked like a two, or at most 3 day adventure. How wrong I was, it took me over a week to read this book. The plot lines are intricate, and the character development intricately and cleverly handled. I knew I was in trouble when at the end of my first day of reading I had barely scratched the first 50 pages. I took some time out to think about this shocking statistic. It wasn’t that I had lost my touch at the art of reading, it was just that there was so much detail that was so well written, it took time to assemble and file the information.
OK, I suppose you want to know what the book is about?
Our hero is J. W. Schoeder (aka J Dub), we meet him as a young man who has a flair for the game of golf, his father having taught him all he can about this gentleman’s game. J Dub has a chance to make it to the big league, a player on the PGA. One momentary lapse of concentration wrenches defeat from the jaws of victory, and J Dub loses his opportunity. What next for this young man and his pregnant wife? A life giving golf lessons at the local driving range?
J Dub’s angel comes in the form of one Lewford E. Zerrmann. Lew is a ‘land man’ and has recently purchased a rather run down golf course, he needs someone with a knowledge of the game to run it for him. Better still, because Lew is such a nice guy he will offer a partnership, J Dub can have have 20% of the business, and a first option to buy should J Dub wish to become a sole owner.
15 years elapse, and about the only thing J Dub knows for sure is that his partner is no gentleman, he has no people skills, and seems to be hell bent of driving customers away. The golf course on the other hand is a popular spot, cash flow is great, yet their never seems to be any money left in the bank after expenses have been paid.
As the relationship becomes increasing strained J Dub is forced to start looking around, and talking to people. What he hears and sees does not make for a pretty picture. He must know make a decision, to walk away from 15 years of sweat equity or stay and fight?
This is a great book, it has murder, swindles, forgery, tax evasion, pretty much everything you could want in a great read. Lew has all of the social skills of Rattle Snake, while naïve J Dub plods gently along at his own pace. In a David V Goliath battle who will win?
I will not give the intricacies of the plot away, and neither will I spoil the ending, but I will whet your appetite with the fact that the ending will come as a big surprise.
You can pick up your copy from Amazon.
Title of Document: Book Review
Book Title: Lifetime Loser
Author: James Ross
ISBN Number: 978-1-4257-8208-5
Genre and Target Market: fiction; male relationships; legal drama
Publication Date: 2007
Book Length in Pages: 327
J.W. Schroeder (known as J Dub) is one shot away from getting the score he needs to become a member of the PGA Tour. He has played well throughout this qualifying tournament, and his confidence is peaking. His wife, Marcia, is standing nearby, pregnant with their first child. She questions the unstudied approach that J Dub is taking to such a crucial swing, while his suddenly swelling ego allows him to believe nothing can go wrong. Marcia’s doubts prove warranted when J Dub fails to earn a spot to play his beloved golf game professionally. With all of the family’s hopes and dreams riding on that ill-fated shot, what will be next for the Schroeders?
So begins the first foray into the literary world for author James Ross. Over the next 300 pages of Lifetime Loser, Mr. Ross takes us through twenty-three years of J Dub’s life and introduces us to a cast of unforgettable characters. J Dub and his wife are lured to Illinois by the villain of the novel, Lewferd “Lew” Zerrmann. Lew asks J Dub to manage a golf course he just acquired, with promises of eventual ownership and a life-changing fortune. However, as the novel unfolds, we realize that failing to keep his word is the least of Mr. Zerrmann’s unappealing qualities. Lew and his business associates introduce the well-intentioned J Dub to a world of murder, perversion, tax evasion and a demented fascination with a genocidal dictator. What could go wrong?
One of the strongest parts of Lifetime Loser is the detailed attention to character development that Mr. Ross pays to each player in his story. We learn the background story for each person, from high school experiences to luck with women to professional successes and failures. The readers also receive vibrant physical descriptions … for better or for worse! I found myself rooting for J Dub and his family, while becoming more sickened by each new detail that was shared about Lew Zerrmann. The emotional investment that I staked in these characters was directly due to Mr. Ross’ determination to make these people three-dimensional and complete in their personalities.
I also was drawn to the layout that Mr. Ross uses to develop his storytelling. While the entire novel is written in the third person, the person, issue … and even year … of focus changes from chapter to chapter. We are let into the homes of the characters and even unexpectedly taken back in time to provide context for the plot. There are also lapses allowed in the chronology so that the reader is given the opportunity to fill in the details based on what we have learned about the people and their situations. Ross manages to elegantly fold these different snapshots together to create a novel rich in detail.
Readers should not expect a quick and casual read that can be completed in one afternoon. The text of Lifetime Loser is dense and needs to be read carefully. I found several instances in which I flipped back to chapters I had already read just to see how a particular aspect of the plotline had shown hints of itself before fully unfolding. The need to go back and forth in my reading was not due to any shortcomings on the part of Mr. Ross’ writing, but was instead based on my interest in how Ross managed to get the intricate story to its current point.
This initial offering, Lifetime Loser, by James Ross is a great novel for anyone who appreciates the art of creating strong characters on the written page. It is not often that I find myself audibly gasping in reaction to a development in a novel, but the actions of the main players in Lifetime Loser made me do just that. This book is certainly a page-turner, but with a plot that deserves your time to give it a slow and deliberate read. I have no doubt that you will be amazed by some of the situations that our protagonist faces as he simply tries to support his family by helping others play the game that he loves. Ross has a creative mind that translates well to each page of his first book. I look forward to meeting the other people who I hope James Ross chooses to create in the future.