Tag Archives: Investigations

Book Review: Blood Meridian, Or, The Evening Redness in the West

McCarthy, Cormac. Blood Meridian, Or, The Evening Redness in the West. 2010 Modern Library Edition ed. New York, NY: Modern Library, 2010. Print.

 

Many consider Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian too violent to read. Violence begins onGUEST_e7b7a5bd-5894-4e82-907d-da212ef1d4e8 the second page and continues unabated to the end. McCarthy delivers a treatise on man’s inhumanity to man in the form of genocide. Blood is a constant theme as blood is spilled in one senseless massacre after another. Blood is not the result of conflict, but the reason for it.

McCarthy weaves what could be a series of short stories describing the worth or lack of indigenous people’s lives in the latter half of the nineteenth century west. The story, seen through the eyes of the narrator, follows the Kid and a gang of killers. McCarthy’s narrator never allows the reader inside the mind of the characters. We learn only what McCarthy wants as he develops his characters. He forces the reader to imagine one’s vision of the murderous thoughts. He is masterful in constructing his performers while forcing his readers to judge them.

McCarthy uses understated allegory to deliver messages that express what the characters are or what they represent. Spitting is used throughout as a symbol of the low regard the men have for anything, including human life. The insult of the act says more than dialogue could deliver. Wolves are symbolic actors. Almost daily, we see wolves. The humans and the wolves are representative of hunters looking for easy prey. The only difference, wolves kill for survival.

Glanton and his gang are inherently immoral, evil, clichés of bad guys in black hats. The governments of Mexico and the United States, equally evil, legitimatize genocide. This allowed for the ferocious and persistent murder and attempted extermination of the native peoples of both countries.

Genocide is the predominant theme. Except for the Delaware’s, the Indians are shown as savages. This holds even when the Diegueño Indians rescue the Kid and the ex-priest. “They would have died if the indians had not found them” (312). The narrator refers to these people as savages, as aborigines. “they saw the halfnaked savages crouched…” (312).

Two central characters, Glanton and the Judge, build upon the theme of genocide. Glanton, when he kills an old Indian woman sitting in the square of an impoverished Mexican village. When he sees three of his men squatting with her, he dismounts and kills her. “The woman looked up. Neither courage nor heartsink in those old eyes. He . . . put the pistol to her head and fired” (102). On the very next page, he confirms his complete contempt for life when he tells the only Mexican in his band to scalp the woman’s corpse with these chilling words, “Get that receipt for us” (103). She is nothing more than a hundred-dollar bounty.

The reader becomes almost inured to the violence. Once the butchery began, it seems as though there can be nothing more disturbing—there is—the Judge is evil incarnate. The gang surprises and attacks a large Indian encampment, “the partisans [Glanton’s men] nineteen in number bearing down upon the encampment where there lay sleeping upward of a thousand souls” (161). The Judge leaves the devastated village with a captured child, a ten-year-old boy. He treats the child humanely, and the boy becomes somewhat of a mascot. Three days later, the depth of the Judge’s evil is shown. “Toadvine saw him with the child as he passed with his saddle, but when he came back ten minutes later leading his horse the child was dead and the judge had scalped it” (170). The reader is left to wonder if the Judge killed the boy because he thrives on murder, or if he defiled the child and killed him afterward.

McCarthy’s colorful and graphic language adds significantly to the ability of the reader to see, understand, and experience the scenes and settings. Short and straightforward, his portrayal of the gang as they cross the desert, conveys in a few easy to read lines, in which the reader can feel, and smell the riders. “They rode on, and the wind drove the fine gray dust before them and they rode an army of graybeards, gray men, gray horses” (259).

The Kid, born into a violent world, dies a violent death forty-five years later. Some assume that the Judge, a pedophile, and sexual deviant, rapes the Kid and leaves him for dead. We’ll never know the answer.

McCarthy’s final message to the reader, evil cannot be eradicated; it lives forever.

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STUCK? REACH FOR HELP

Recently I was working on a new scene from Book II of the Liberty Trilogy. Reading it aloud, I noticed a decided lack of personal attributes. I needed to give my character something to show of himself.

A few years back, I bought five books by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi designed to help the writer with characters and settings. I keep the books within arm’s length. However, more often than not, I forget them. I reached for The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes.

Searching the index, I couldn’t find a trait that fit what I had in mind. Oh, well, find something. I noticed three characteristics that gave me an idea of how to rewrite several paragraphs. When finished, I was happy with what was now on the paper. I decided to keep the guide on my desk.

Days later, I needed another clue. Reaching for the guide, I noticed the book on my desk was The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Flaws.

I reread the scene and decided the character flaws made for a more compelling character and storyline than positive traits.

Thanks, Angela and Becca.

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WRITING-SCHOOL-VOLUNTEERISM

After over forty years of investigative experience, I’ve officially changed career paths. While most people my age retire, I’m much too active for that. Besides, I can only watch so much television, and I’m a terrible golfer. I’m devoting my time to writing, school, and volunteerism.

If you didn’t know, I’ve written one novel, A Tale of Robbers and Cops. I enjoyed the project and learned a great deal about writing.

My second novel, Liberty, set in the fictional city of Liberty, Arizona, is a story about people. That’s right; it’s a story about people, not cops. However, among these people are cops, the leaders of a Black Prison/Street Gang, as well as a Latino Street Gang. I’ve been researching for a year. In that time, I’ve met some interesting gang experts who have been more than generous with their time.

In addition to the novels, I’m amassing a collection of short stories. Several are set for publication by year’s end.

My educational goal is to complete an AA Degree in English at Las Positas College and then enter a Master of Fine Arts program. My alma mater, California State University – East Bay has a joint campus program that should meet my needs.

For the last eighteen months, I’ve spent 2 ½ hours most Mondays in Polish Your Writing, a class taught by acclaimed author and educator Julaina Kleist. I intend to continue studying under Julaina indefinitely.

As for volunteerism, I’ve returned to the San Leandro Police Department as a Volunteer in Police (VIP). Forty-five years ago, as a rookie police officer, I shuttled cars to and from the corporation yard, to the car wash, swept the police station, emptied trash, and handled a myriad of other un-cop like tasks. As a VIP, I’m doing much the same thing, only for free.

I’m excited about this turn in the road I’ve made and am looking forward to new adventures. If you would like to read samples of my writing or hear more about my journey, feel free to check out my blog.

MERGING THE HEART OF A WRITER WITH THE SOUL OF A BIKER

Blog : http://gdcramer.com
Email : gdcramer@msn.com
FaceBook : http://www.facebook.com/george.cramer.56211
LinkedIn : http://www.linkedin.com/in/gdcramerpi/
Twitter : @WriterBiker

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High Technology Crime Investigation Association Annual Conference

I’m in Las Vegas for the High Technology Crime Investigation Association (HTCIA) Annual Conference. They always have excellent presentations. http://www.htciaconference.org/

I hope Interviewing in the 21st Century is worthwhile. The presenter is George Cramer.

My son Paul moved to Summerlin (Las Vegas) several months ago. His apartment is five minutes from the J.W. Marriott, the conference site. He came by this morning and took me to breakfast at Eggs and I on West Sahara, L.V. Great place, especially since they serve my favorite breakfast, SPAM and eggs. http://www.theeggworks.com/

In Pool - Stella Dot 2013

I guess this is a typical day in Paul’s life as a single man in Las Vegas.

He works at an upscale restaurant. The Poppy Den by Chef Angelo Sosa is less than a half mile from here. He’s taking me to dinner there Tuesday evening. It looks great. I am glad he is treating. You can check it out at http://vegaspoppyden.com/.

Time for a quick lunch and then back to class.

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Talented Writers – JULIE ROYCE

My luck continues with talented authors. This week’s author is Julie Royce, who writes as J.K. Royce.

Julie Royce 0500 Hours

Attorney Julie Royce rises daily at 5:00 a.m. to write in a variety of genres.

PILZ Book Cover

Julie has a recently published legal thriller. PILZ is a sizzling whodunit written by an attorney whose legal career exposed her to the dark side of the medical profession. This spine-tingling tale of murder and betrayal will leave you wondering how far to trust your family doctor.

Casey Lawrence is an assistant attorney general who believes her biggest problem is the ex-husband camped in her guestroom. That annoyance escalates to major trouble when she enters her blood-spattered study. Her ex is missing. After the police arrive, she becomes the prime suspect in his disappearance and probable murder.

A grisly crime she committed seventeen years earlier sucks her into a conspiracy between a drug kingpin and unscrupulous doctors. The stakes are her career, her freedom, and her life. The only cards she holds are her wits, a well-honed instinct for survival, and the loyalty of an ex-cop with questionable ethics. Will those be enough to win the deadly game?

Julie is currently working on another mystery/thriller, tentatively titled, “The Mission Murders” which will move her protagonist, Casey Lawrence, to San Francisco’s Mission District.

Julie has written two travel books, Traveling Michigan’s Thumb and Traveling Michigan’s Sunset Coast (Thunder Bay Press). She currently writes a monthly travel column for www.wanderingeducators.com. She has also written and is editing Ardent Spirit, a historical fiction novel that recounts the life of American Indian fur-trader, Magdelaine LaFramboise.

In her spare time Ms. Royce writes short stories. One has received first place and two others have received honorable mention in contests. Several have been published in anthologies.

PILZ is one of my favorites. If you want your own copy you will find it available as an e-book or paperback from Amazon.

Ms. Royce’s website and blog are at http://www.jkroyce.com

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NO DEROGATORY INFORMATION FOUND

When the hiring manager read this statement he immediately hired the candidate. How often is the hiring manager pleased when he or she reads?

NO DEROGATORY INFORMATION FOUND

Should one accept this notification at face value? No!

The candidate had embezzled more than $250,000 from her previous employer. Upon conviction, the judge sentenced her to prison and ordered restitution.

Who do we fault for negligent hiring? Was it the Background Investigator, the Human Resources Specialist, or the hiring manager? If your answer is “All of them,” you would be right.

What went wrong?

The candidate submitted a resume containing disingenuous and fabricated information. What it did not contain was the employer she had victimized. The Human Resources Specialist, the hiring manager, and the contract Background Investigator had all reviewed the resume.

The background investigator called the telephone numbers listed for former employers and references. In all cases he reached voice messaging. Multiple calls were made with a request for a return call. Of the several “employers and references” not one returned a call. The background investigator did not talk with a single reference.

A criminal records search was made only in the county where the candidate lived even though all three people knew she had recently moved from a different part of the state. No Record Found. The candidate had a criminal conviction in the previous jurisdiction.

Do you see a pattern developing? Not one item on the application or resume was verified.

The background investigator’s report was sent to Human Resources. The H/R Specialist forwarded it without comment to the hiring manager.

The hiring manager had eyes only for “No Derogatory Information Found.”

The H/R Specialist and the hiring manager had read the candidate’s resume. They had personal knowledge that the she had worked for years at XYZ, Inc. in Europe.

XYZ, Inc. was not listed on either the resume or the application. Why, because of the embezzlement conviction. Human Resources and the hiring manager must share in the blame. The hiring manager had even told his H/R Specialist; “I want to hire Jane Doe because of her experience at XYZ, Inc.”

Why did neither challenge the resume? Why didn’t the Background Investigator, H/R Specialist, or hiring manager question the lack of verification?

A frank examination of the background investigator’s report raised numerous red flags. It took less than a day to expose the falsehoods in the resume and employment application. The former employers listed on the application and resume were shell companies created by the applicant to help facilitate the embezzlement.

You may ask, “Wasn’t it challenging to find the European conviction?” It wasn’t difficult at all.

A good question one should ask, “What don’t I know?”

This is an example of process over veracity. Every person involved in the hiring process failed to do their job.

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New Category – Investigations

Category Alert!

I’ve been an investigator for more than forty years. In a recent blog I let you know that I’ll be lecturing at the upcoming San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of ASIS-International Training Seminar. Later this year I will be teaching at events in Chicago and Las Vegas.

In addition to my novel A Tale of Robbers and Cops, it is impossible for me to not write short stories and essays related to criminal and corporate investigations. Later today I will be posting a disturbing piece about negligent hiring practices.

Look for these non-fiction and fictionalized pieces to be mixed in with the blog’s other topics.

Be Safe

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