Local authors produce bumper crop of books

July 21, 2017

When thinking about the human condition, one defining characteristic always comes to my mind. We love to tell stories and we like to hear stories.

When I hear a flock of irrepressibly cackling geese in the rows of stubble on a winter field, or crows cawing or songbirds singing in the early morning, I add other living creatures to the list of those that like to hear and tell stories.

So, this column is about storytellers. On the table on my screened porch and the one beside my bed, there are four new books by local authors - who all live or have homes in Lewes - that have come my way. I’m enjoying them all.

Each book represents many stories within a larger story. Two are fiction, one an epic-length historical work, and one a collection of anecdotes from a campus security cop.


I finished Chris Beakey’s “Fatal Option” first. This hardback murder thriller takes place in just a couple of days, is spiced with lots of sexual and violent tension, and includes a cast of contemporary characters with a wide variety of multi-generational family and personal issues. Beakey even adds a haunting character from another dimension for one more layer of complexity.

The blizzardy mountain setting gives “Fatal Option” a cool and dynamic contrast to a hot summer’s day beach read.

Beakey’s use of dialogue and description keep this 292-pager moving along at an engaging and compelling clip. “Fatal Option,” published by Post Hill Press, has a cover price of $25. As with all the books here, check with your local bookseller for availability.


John Lester shows his love of history, Native American culture and the American Southwest in his first novel, “The Corn Singer.” It’s a work of fiction, and Lester subtitles his book An Epic Story of Crossed Cultures, History, Adventure & Romance. All of that unwinds faithfully through the pages of what I would call - with high praise - a good yarn.

The author’s choice of scenes and characters and their interactions give Corn Singer a style of its own, but those who fancy the writing style and cadence of Hemingway’s work will also sense Lester’s reverence for that master.

Set in the years just before World War II, the book moves seamlessly from desert scenes atop mesas and domestic scenes in a schoolteacher’s simple dwelling, to bare-knuckled fighting, dimly lit rooms in a lawless Mexican town, and a storm-tossed rust bucket of a small, evilly acquired ship hauling a load of tough, sure-footed mules to a European battlefront. Lester threads all of that together with a lily-pure (almost) and tightly crafted love story that brings the adventure-filled tale to a sweet conclusion.

A 256-page paperback, “The Corn Singer” is published by LifeRich with a cover price of $17.99.


With Fatal Option and Corn Singer dispatched, I’ve moved now into Sally Mott Freeman’s impressive historical novel titled “The Jersey Brothers: A Missing Naval Officer in the Pacific and His Family’s Quest to Bring Him Home.”

Freeman and her husband, John, saved the fire-damaged Mispillion Lighthouse from destruction several years ago, moved it to Lewes, restored it, and incorporated it into their Shipcarpenter Square home. Her love for maritime history should come as no surprise.

“The Jersey Brothers” is also close to home. With great detail and insight, gleaned from 10 years of careful family and World War II research, Freeman weaves the intimacy of a naval family’s emotional struggles into the warped reality of a nation at war and a brother/son struggling to stay alive in Japanese prison camps.

The book takes the reader into President Harry Truman’s White House during the time he decided to drop the atomic bombs that ended the war, and delves into the implications of that decision for the world, and for Freeman’s relatives at home and in the Pacific.

Published by Simon and Schuster, the beautifully produced, 589-page hardback Jersey Brothers includes detailed maps to illustrate the breadth of the war in the Pacific. It also includes a collection of glossy, black-and-white photos to add life and soul to the characters.

For those seeking additional detail, Freeman has annotated many of the book’s 41 chapters in a section at the back of the book where she has also included a select bibliography and comprehensive index. The book is priced at $28.


With a master’s degree in criminology, Nick DeCerchio used his education and wits to build a career up and down the ladder at college and university security operations. His anthology of 21 two- and three-page stories drawn from his experiences starts with an unexpected Liberian embezzler.

One of the final chapters talks about those most nefarious criminals: parking scofflaws. “I was accustomed to receiving vicious telephone calls and e-mails from angry ticket recipients,” he writes. “Our favorite remark from a student who was angry about receiving a parking ticket was: ‘My father could buy and sell you.’ I would chuckle and say: ‘Call him and ask him to make me an offer.’ I could not understand how progressive, intelligent and open-minded people could convince themselves that a different set of rules applied to them than to the rest of the world.”

DeCerchio’s 60-page paperback, published by Outskirts Press, doesn’t include a cover price. These short-hitters are interesting and often humorous, but, not surprisingly, and not unlike life, sometimes sad.

We’re blessed to live in the midst of so many good authors who take on the hard work of writing engaging, interesting, entertaining and enlightening stories for the rest of us to enjoy.