James E. McCarthy is a retired Private Investigator and Tax Practitioner born and raised in Orlando, Florida. After High School he worked for TWA as a Mail Courier at the Kennedy Space Center. He volunteered for the U.S. Army during the Vietnam era and was sent to West Germany. Upon returning home he attended Tallahassee Community College graduating with an AA Degree in Clinical Psychology then further his education by attending Southern College obtaining an AA Degree in Computer Programming then attended the University of Central Florida, graduating with a BA Degree in Clinical Psychology.
Upon completing college he worked as a Private Investigator, Special Process Server and a Certified Process Server for approximately fifteen years with the Department of Children's and Family attorneys, serving Child Support documents. He also worked as an Investigator I with the Public Defender's Office then left there and became CDC certified and worked at the Orange County Health Department as a Disease Intervention Specialist. James is currently moonlighting as a Tax Consultant, license Private Investigator and Writer.
“He would turn into a Goddamn Chameleon if it was a question of surviving.”
– Kirkus Reviews
A debut novel delivers a journey through poverty and the heroin trade.
Leo Stegner is no stranger to illegal activities. Not only is his father involved with the Mafia through his gambling habit and efforts to pay his debts, but Leo has had a great deal of success as part of an auto-theft ring as well. But when his father and the head of the gang of robbers die in rapid succession, Leo resolves to alter his destructive course even as he vows revenge for his father’s murder. But despite going legit as a courier and later joining the military, Leo ends up deeper in the underworld than when he started; he’s now part of the international heroin market. Traveling throughout the world, running up against danger at every turn, Leo considers himself adaptable: “He would turn into a Goddamn Chameleon if it was a question of surviving.” But when he’s finally caught and convicted, turning his life around once and for all from the inside of a cell is the greatest—and most permanent—transformation he could ever imagine. McCarthy’s tale manages to paint an optimistic picture of what is possible when someone truly decides to change. The novel’s matter-of-fact prose style and fast pace serve the story well, giving a broad perspective on significant events in the United States in the latter part of the 20th century as well as the more personal circumstances that make Leo the man he is. Even so, the book is not without its emotional moments, as when Leo faces trial or when his dreams of retribution come to a head in the prison yard. The senses of anger and despair are palpable and should resonate with readers who’ve been down on their luck, especially any who are familiar with stories of inmates and rehabilitation. That said, as Leo’s life connects him with the space race, the Vietnam War, the introduction of Chinese heroin on American soil, and the war on drugs, even readers uninterested in prison stories will likely find plenty to recommend in this complex narrative.
A rare, hopeful crime story that also manages to be deeply honest.
Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2016
Page count: 280pp
Publisher: Ashanti Victoria Publishing
Review Posted Online: Sept. 5, 2017
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017
The Best Laid Plans
Favorite line from a book
Make My Day
Unexpected skill or talent
Passion in life
To live long and prosper
SIN & REDEMPTION: THE PINK ELEPHANT CONNECTION: Pinnacle Book Achievement Award, 2017
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