||L & L Dreamspell
||November 26, 2012
An explosive political thriller ripped from the headlines.
Richard Brawer's books
Richard Brawer's books
While the United States is focused on diffusing Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear programs the ultra-nationalist CEOs of Japan’s eight largest Keiretsus plot to build nuclear weapons to protect their country from a menacing China, and a large political action committee within the U.S. to thwart the expected U.S. cease and desist demands.
Conspiracy, Lust, Infidelity, Treachery, Betrayal and Murder. Marriages are destroyed; A son abandons his father; A sister chastises her brother for disloyalty; A cousin distrusts his cousin, questioning his fidelity; A mother-in-law openly professes her dislike for her daughter-in-law; Forbidden love becomes obsessive lust. For reviews, excerpt, inspiration for this novel, cast of characters and more go to www.silklegacy.com.
KEIETSU, by Richard Brawer
As he walked along the dock on this Memorial Day holiday, he should have been hearing gulls squawking and the lapping of the water against the hulls of the berthed boats. This being their first cruise of the season, he should have been delighted that the day was clear and the water calm. Instead he was staring into space hearing his own words echoing in his head. “I’m not interested.”
Reaching his thirty-two foot cabin cruiser, he pulled on a stern line to haul the boat close to the dock. He tied off the line on a cleat and hopped on board then took his wife’s hand and helped her over the transom.
“What’s troubling you dear?” she asked.
“Something’s bothering you.”
He never could hide anything from her. “They upped their offer to thirty-five million.”
Her mouth dropped open. She was the company treasurer and knew that offer was astronomical. “And?”
“And I turned them down.”
“I’m only fifty. What’ll I do if I sell the company? Besides Kevin is anticipating taking over when we retire. He’s doing a great job. I couldn’t sell the business out from under him.”
“Dear, you don’t have to explain yourself to me. You have my full support in whatever you decide to do.”
Inside the cabin, he opened the hatch and vents to the engine compartment and sniffed. Despite smelling no gasoline fumes in the bilges, he turned on the blower then went back to join his wife on deck.
Seeing his son and daughter-in-law approaching, he said, “Let’s not say anything to them.”
“Of course, dear.” She fell into a pout. “They didn’t bring the baby?”
“You know Connie’s parents are in from Idaho. I invited them to come with us but they said they weren’t thrilled about boating so I suggested the kids leave the baby with them. Her parents rarely get to see their grandchild and were overjoyed to have the whole day alone with him.”
“I guess you’re right. He is a little young. It wouldn’t be much fun for the kids having to watch the baby every minute.”
He welcomed his son and daughter-in-law aboard, then climbed to the bridge and started the engine. His son and wife untied the bow and stern lines and they headed out of the Mackinaw City Municipal Marina for a relaxing day fishing on Lake Huron.
They were off the eastern shore of Mackinac Island when the explosion turned the luxury yacht into a mass of driftwood.
Keiretsu is a scary thriller I won’t easily forget. It is a warning about what is coming in nuclear proliferation as well as a treatise on our greedy congress. The CEOs of Japan’s largest Keiretsus (conglomerates) secretly conspire to build nuclear weapons as a deterrent to China’s growing military threat throughout Asia.
This is where the scary part comes in. Using the Supreme Court ruling that corporations can spend any amount of money on elections, the conspirators form a conglomerate of seemingly 100% owned American companies located throughout many United States’ congressional districts. Then they spend money to get the district congressman elected. The congressman will then be beholden to that company and will be pressured to object to any administration’s demand that Japan stop making nuclear weapons.
But what really makes this novel a great read are the characters.
Toshio Nagoya: He is the leader of the Japanese conspirators. He is descended for a long line of samurai. His goal is to return Japan to a great economic and military empire. He believes the United States will continue to deteriorate as a world power leaving Japan open to an invasion by China. To achieve his goal he needs the bomb to keep China at bay, and because throughout history no country had ever created an empire without a powerful army—not the Romans, not the British, not the Americans
Michiko: Toshio’s wife. She is caught in a loveless marriage and starts an affair. She is terrified Toshio will find out and kill her, but she cannot stop.
Ogato: Toshio’s and Michiko’s son. He is indoctrinated by his father about the declining United States. He is stationed in the United States to help build the American conglomerate. His sole purpose in life is to please his father and he will do anything to get his father’s praise.
John Nagoya: A lawyer. Second generation Japanese-American and Toshio’s cousin. He is enlisted by Toshio to form the American conglomerate. He readily agrees. John hates the United States because his parents were murdered by a mob when they were released from the internment camps. For sixty years he has been seeking a way to get his revenge on America.
Yoshi: John’s wife. She likes everything American and is often at odds with John when he maligns his country.
Roger: John’s and Yoshi’s son. Yoshi raised him with every advantage a wealthy family can give their children. He works with his father in the law firm. John has kept all dealings with Toshio private and Roger becomes suspicious of what his father is hiding and starts looking into the actions of the American conglomerate John built.
Gingi: John’s and Yoshi’s daughter. She is married to Senator Morrison’s son. From the first day she met Ogato she developed a deep hatred for him.
Senator Morrison: He is investigating Japanese companies and tries to remain non-partisan even though his son, Danny, is married to Gingi Nagoya.
This review was originally published at Red Adept Reviews on August 10, 2011.
Overall: 5 stars
Plot/Storyline: 5 stars
Good historical fiction teaches us a bit of history while weaving an interesting story told through the experiences of the story's characters, both real and fictional. The author of Silk Legacy, Richard Brawer, did a bang-up job of taking an event--The Great Silk Strike of 1913--which today is just a footnote of history, and making it come alive.
A hundred years ago, the city of Paterson, New Jersey, was the silk-producing capital of the world. More than 300 mills produced vast quantities of silk products from thread to finished fabrics. Workers toiled long hours under wretched conditions for miniscule wages, typical for manufacturing industries of that era. A series of small, poorly-organized strikes failed to bring about change, which ultimately led to the massive strike in 1913. Silk Legacy was an account of the events leading up to that strike and the five months of the strike itself. During the early 20th century, the small local craft and trade unions were giving way to national organizations like the American Federation of Labor (AFL). During the strike, both the AFL and the IWW (International Workers of the World) fought for control of the striking workers. Much of the story involved the bitter clash between the AFL, which aimed to get better working conditions and better pay, and the IWW, which advocated a revolution where the workers would seize the factories and get rid of the bosses and owners (i.e., the Marxist Utopia - if you're read Animal Farm or Atlas Shrugged, you know how that turned out).
That's the historical backdrop the story was played out against. The characters included both real and fictional figures. The primary fictional characters were the Bressler family. The relationships between the three Bressler brothers and their families, and their involvement with the strike made for an absorbing page-turner of a novel.
Note: I looked up some of the people and events of the 1913 Paterson strike. As obscure as the event is to us today--almost a hundred years later--there's a lot of information online, including photographs of many historical figures and places in the book. Seeing these photos really made the story come alive. While I was reading Silk Legacy, I kept thinking of the similarities to Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, so I wasn't too surprised when Upton Sinclair made a cameo appearance in the story!
Characters: 5 stars
The events of the story were told through the eyes of the Bressler family, who, like many of the mill workers, were recent immigrants who came from Europe to America in search of a better life. Abe Bressler, through shrewdness and hard work, had become a jobber of silk thread and eventually a mill owner. His wife, Sarah, was a good wife and mother, and she became involved in the suffrage movement for women's rights, particularly the right to vote. One of Abraham's brothers, Solomon, worked at a mill and was a union activist, which put the two brothers in conflict, which deeply affected the entire family.
Although fictional, the Bressler family was made up of flesh-and-blood characters. They laughed, loved, argued, fought, and had adulterous affairs.
The majority of the characters, including political leaders, and local, national, and international union leaders, were real people.
Writing style: 5 stars
The writing style was as polished and professional-looking as I've seen. Dialogues were realistic and often served to emphasize the enormity of the conflict and the high stakes involved.
The author clearly did some serious research into the story, and also did a marvelous job of working the fictional characters into the historical story. One of the most interesting aspects of the story was learning about the manufacturing of silk, beginning with imported silkworm cocoons (a single cocoon may yield up to three thousand feet of silk filaments) and going through the entire process, with the silk fabric being woven on huge looms.
A nice touch were the endnotes that gave some historical perspective and tied up some loose historical ends.
Editing: 4 1/2 stars
There were a fair number of misspellings (the ubiquitous "its/it's" and "your/you're" mix-ups, "a field" instead of "afield," "phase" instead of "faze"), but frankly, the story was compelling enough that I hardly noticed them.
5.0 out of 5 stars additional reviews, March 4, 2011
“Eileen Robinson is a sympathetic, engaging character…You root for her from the beginning. Tim Sheard, author of the Lenny Moss crime novels.
“This is an intricate plot that clearly draws the battle lines and spells out the dire costs on all sides if they fail.Maryland Writers’ Association
“The author’s inclusion of the concept of nanomedicine in the plot is articulate and intriguing...His characters are nicely done.” Von Pittman for The Genreview
“In 'Beyond Guilty' Brawer writes a very unusual plot that is engrossing and intriguing. Eileen Robinson is a very resourceful character…Brawer writes spirited prose with authentic dialogue. 'Beyond Guilty' is a stunning thriller!” http://www.conniesreviews.blogspot.com
“This book catches you in the first couple of pages and doesn't let you go. The characters are as appealing as the plot…Don't go in expecting to have stereotypes filled, because that is the one thing you won't experience!” S. Lynn, blogger
“The plot is intricate but at the same time easy to follow. The suspense keeps ratcheting up with each page. The lead character--Eileen--is well done as is her love interest, Mark, and the creepy pursuer, Colonel Springer.”Thriller Reader (San Diego, CA)
“BEYOND GUILTY is thought provoking by forcing further thoughts about capital punishment and racial profiling. The characters are uncomfortably realistic and the action is fast-paced. I look forward to future novels by this author" Reviews by Teri. http://reviewsbyteri.blogspot.com/
“A fascinating subject and a great read. I read and have read: Margolin, Coben, Fairstein, Baldacci etc. so, I am a good critic, and I rate ‘Beyond Guilty’ a real winner." Lynda Davis, an avid reader.
“This book is a suspenseful, quick read because the action begins immediately…A fast paced read and twisting action with complex characters.” D. Deen blog
“I have to say that ‘Beyond Guilty’ is a book that grabs you from the first page and never lets you go…I enjoyed how we did get to see Eileen grow as a character…If you are looking for a fast-paced, medical thriller, go out and pick up a copy of ‘Beyond Guilty’ by Richard Brawer. Julie for Girls Just Reading - http://girlsjustreading.blogspot.com/
“I enjoyed the book. It’s a good read. The ending has a neat wrap-up with almost all the loose ends nicely taken care of.” Robert A. Freitas Jr., Senior Research Fellow at the Institute For Molecular Manufacturing who has graciously edited the references to nanomaufacturing and nanomedicine and has written the essay at the end of the novel about the progress being made in developing nanomedicine.
Read the full reviews, and excerpt and more at: www.silklegacy.com
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