An often engaging chronicle of a dramatic career.

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THE HEART AND MIND OF A SPECIAL AGENT

A retired U.S. Customs agent recounts an eventful career and the lessons that he drew from it. 

Debut author Caron was born in 1965, a fraternal twin and one of seven siblings raised in New Bedford, Massachusetts. In this memoir, he says that his police officer father, Edmond, was a strict disciplinarian who instilled a relentless work ethic and a sense of moral responsibility. As a child, Caron suffered from hearing and speech impairments that undermined his academic performance, and his parents decided that, instead of a standard high school, he would be better off attending a vocational school, concentrating on culinary arts. However, the author was determined to follow in his father’s footsteps and enter law enforcement—a commitment that only intensified after Edmond died of a heart attack in 1981. After Caron’s graduation from a local community college, he worked as a summer officer in Massachusetts and decided that he wasn’t ideally suited for police work. Instead, he attended Northeastern University to study criminal justice in preparation for becoming a special agent, and in 1989, he became a U.S. Customs agent, assigned to Newark, New Jersey. The author vividly describes an illustrious career that culminated in his becoming the representative at the U.S. National Central Bureau of Interpol in Washington, D.C. He also openly discusses his personal travails, including the sudden death of his twin brother, his struggles with PTSD after a colleague was shot, and the toll that his career took on his family life before he retired in 2014. Caron worked in many different capacities as a customs agent—he assisted the Secret Service on protective details, helped the CIA conduct an internal investigation, and investigated drug smuggling operations—and his adventures make for a rousing read. The author’s writing is clear but occasionally awkward and overly earnest. For example, when pondering the obligations of his job, he thinks to himself: “I may actually be required to take a life based on the totality of the circumstances!” However, Caron’s remembrances are often thrilling, and the advice he imparts is largely sound, if shopworn.

An often engaging chronicle of a dramatic career.  

Pub Date: April 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4575-6353-9

Page Count: 218

Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2018

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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