We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. ~Aesop
"HOW I CAME TO WRITE: STRANGLEHOLD" by Ed Gorman
I'm a political junkie. In my Thirties and Forties I voted both Dem and GOP. I also wrote speeches for both Dems and GOPers. I went on the road with one campaign to film TV commercials. I sat in focus groups when candidates were discussed candidly by average folks. And I was present in a TV studio when a major GOP candidate for Governor went against the advice of his ops and ended his career on live television. He was a foolish, vain, desperate man.
I've worked all these experiences and many more into my three novels about political consultant and op Dev Conrad. Sleeping Dogs was the first, Stranglehold the second and Blindside, which I'm just now finishing, the third. They are of a piece because each deals with the American political system, which is probably dirtier now than at any time since the Gilded Age when Congress was owned and controlled by robber barons. And it is dirty in both parties.
In Stranglehold, as with the other two Dev Conrad books, I attempt to show that there are very few heroes on either side of the aisle. What we tend to forget is the primary rule followed by virtually every person ever elected to congress--get yourself re-elected. Every other consideration is secondary. And again, this applies to both sides. As Bob Dylan once wrote, "Money doesn't talk, it swears." And money is just about all that matters in politics. The Tea Baggers, ironically, have brought in a group of windbags who'll just make it worse. One of these new people has even hired a former K Streeter as his chief of staff.
On the other hand, the Dems are almost as corrupt. In Stranglehold I show a minor political dynasty trying to hold on to its power. We think of the Kennedys and the Bushes when we say dynasties but there are several others across the States. Generations of pols from the same blood line. The scion of my family is dead. He was once a fierce champion for the working class but by the time he died he had become accustomed to the panache and perks of Beltway life. He became a rich man himself and ridiculed his old beliefs.
Back to "almost." While the reviews have been good for both Sleeping Dogs and Stranglehold, every once in awhile a critic will wonder if I'm not being too cynical about our political process. I have to say I think that's impossible. We can never be cynical enough. The Wall Street Journal's Tom Nolan, in the course of a very positive review of Stranglehold, noted:
The author uses an observation by Thomas Jefferson as the novel's headnote: "Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct." The most frightening revelations in "Stranglehold" may be the unseemly truths it seems to tell about the status quo of our electoral process.
Ed Gorman is the author of Sleeping Dogs, the first book in the Dev Conrad series, A Ticket to Ride, a Sam McCain mystery and many other books in the fields of crime fiction, westerns and short stories. He is also the editor of a yearly anthology that collects some of the best of crime fiction stories.You can find him here.
Patricia Abbott is the author of more than 125 stories that have appeared online, in print journals and in various anthologies. She is the author of two print novels CONCRETE ANGEL (2015) and SHOT IN DETROIT (2016)(Polis Books). CONCRETE ANGEL was nominated for an Anthony and Macavity Award in 2016. SHOT IN DETROIT was nominated for an Edgar Award and an Anthony Award in 2017. A collection of her stories I BRING SORROW AND OTHER STORIES OF TRANSGRESSION will appear in 2018.