Thursday, June 21, 2012

Review: Starry, Starry Night

Starry, Starry Night
Starry, Starry Night by D.J. Israel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Historical-based fiction/Mystery Suspense Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received a free ebook copy of this text from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: In September of 1963, a group of famous Texas oil legends met in a secret meeting in North Dallas. The purpose of the meeting was to formulate strategy for dealing with President John Kennedy. Kennedy had reneged on some campaign promises in order to finance a series of social programs that would benefit the extreme poor in our country. The President was prepared to remove several tax benefits for the Oil Companies and use the extra money to fund the War on Poverty. The oil legends did not like this idea. With the cooperation of the Vice President, a young marine sniper by the name of Gerald Smiley was engaged to assassinate the President in Dealey Plaza. Lee Harvey Oswald was blamed for the crime of the century.

Forty-seven years later in 2010, the man who murdered JFK has great influence and power which he uses to control the world oil cartel. Gerry Smiley is the head of IPI ( International Petroleum Institute and TAOS, Texas American Oil Services.) Smiley uses intimidation, threats, blackmail, murder, misinformation campaigns and bribery to accomplish his goals of keeping the price of oil extremely high.

A scientist by the name of Dr. Tom England makes a startling discovery which will turn Smiley's world upside down. England discovers that oil is not in short supply. In fact oil is a natural reoccurring substance which bubbles up from the earth's core. The oil industry has been lying to the American public for almost 50 years. Smiley decides to have Tom England murdered to protect the dark secret and he also has Marilyn Lassiter murdered. Marilyn Lassiter is the baby sister of A. J. Lassiter, a former Dallas County Homicide Detective. 

Lassiter is now a Messianic Rabbi who lives in relative peace, but he is haunted about the fact that his sister disappeared as a child. Lassiter suffers from the fact that his parents were killed in a terrorist attack. The body of Marilyn Lassiter is discovered in the Trinity River Bottoms of Dallas County buried in heavy mud. Lassiter is notified by his former partner, Lieutenant Paul Murphy about the recover of the body.

Lassiter and Murphy work together again and try to discover the reason for Marilyn's death. They find out that the new African American President of the United States, Everett Lincoln is being targeted by the Oil Industry. History may repeat itself, unless Gerry Smiley is stopped.

My Thoughts: D.J. Israel is a new voice in the scene, who has a number of books available (all of which I’ll be reading and reviewing, so watch for the reviews). Israel has a very interesting background and I hope the books will help show some of these interesting details to the reader.

Israel has had difficulty with this book, as many people are bothered by the inclusion of JFK’s murder. I, personally, found the idea of the conspiracy by the big-oil cartel in this matter to be quite interesting. The only real complaint I had about the story is the fact that all the characters sound pretty much the same, and, in fact, many of them sound a lot like Lt. Data – avoiding contractions and speaking in somewhat stilted and overly proper grammar. I suppose striving to use proper grammar is not a bad thing, but it is unlikely that a large cast of characters would all use carefully proper grammar – there are bound to be a few who split their infinitives and shorten their words, or use slang, or what have you. I’ve had a back-and-forth discussion with Israel about this while reading the book, and it has been interesting to learn some of the thought processes behind this characterization (apparently a reviewer on one of the other books by this author mentioned there were too many contractions and the characters were crude, so Israel strove to make this book more “sophisticated”).

I have to tell you, this book is absolutely full of scumbags – people who are willing to lie, cheat, steal and murder to get ahead no matter what the cost to anyone else. I guess that, unfortunately, that seems to be the way of the world these days. All I know is that reading it frequently made my blood pressure rise as I would become absolutely incensed over the way that people behave. It’s probably for the best that I tend to avoid keeping up with current events for just that reason. There are double-crosses, triple-crosses and a deep, underlying story that doesn’t come out to the fore until the epilogue. The story is absolutely full of twists and turns, and despite any flaws, it is a deeply satisfying read. While the writing style is a 3 out of 5 stars, I enjoyed it to the point I would give it 5 out of 5 for personal taste, which leaves me with a 4 out of 5 star overall review. If you’re willing to look beyond the dialogue, and you like a deeply twisty story, you will definitely enjoy Starry, Starry Night.

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