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Chance Encounters of the Literary Kind

Tampa Bay

Chance encounters of related people or things in unlikely circumstances often elicit the cliché, “It’s a small world.” These days, we all likely would be better off if it were a larger world, so we wouldn’t be crammed as closely together, and the coronavirus wouldn’t spread as readily. A little more physical – not social – distancing, or spacing.

But that’s another story – one that has, we hope, reached its denouement with Monday’s initial Pfizer vaccinations.

Today’s story is an odyssey – the wanderings of a book. It’s a mystery about a mystery.

A friend of mine’s cousin who lives in the Tampa Bay area is an inveterate reader – often two books a day (with my reading speed, two books a month is a big accomplishment). Her name is Margaret Mayer, an Indiana emigrant to Palm Harbor, near Clearwater. When my buddy Joe Disser, aka Indiana Joe, told her about a book she might want to read, she decided to acquire it. Perusing, she found the title, MURDER IN PALM BEACH: The Homicide That Never Died, by one Bob Brink. That name may be familiar to you. I know I’ve heard it before. In fact, I’m somewhat familiar with this guy. Incorrigible fellow.

If she bought 10 books a week in their new state, she’d be spending thousands of dollars a year, so she chose a used specimen through an Amazon vendor, Thrift Books, headquartered near Seattle, Wash., with outlets in other cities, including Dallas. That’s where this book landed. Turned out, Brink had signed the book: 5/7/17. To Mauri & Ulla, A great couple. Bob Brink.”

So … how coincidental is that? Margaret not only found the book authored by her cousin’s friend, but it already had his autograph. I hawked that book at a slew of arts-and-crafts festivals, selling many hundreds, all of which I signed. Thus, I have only the vaguest recollection of this sale.

I also pitched the book at bookstores, libraries and civic organizations, and Murder In Palm Beach became an

But that’s a mixed bag. Just as with the vote for president that occurred a few weeks ago, in which 45% of the population and 55% of whites chose Donald Trump, perceptions of book reviewers can be wildly off the mark. Thus, an editorial reviewer or author will praise a book’s characters and/or the book’s dialogue as real, believable, authentic, while a less literary-oriented reader might conclude the opposite. Here are appraisals of Blood on Their Hands by three writers:

“Brink has a gift for characterization, whether it be the oh-so-seedily smooth mob lawyer Feinberg or the stern but astute Judge Crabtree,” wrote Michael Hartnett, acclaimed author of the novels The Blue Rat and the more recent Blue Gowanus. “Brink has fleshed out such an unforgettable comic character in Garbuncle that I hope to meet him again in future works.”

And this from crack freelance writer David Einhorn: “All of his characters come to life — some being more admirable than others, but that’s all part of a good detective story.”

Michael Hartnett

The Prairies Book Review editorialized: “Powered by expert plotting and topnotch characterization, the story pulls readers in …”

To be honest, a number of well-written lay reviews also said good things about the book’s characterizations, as well as its dialogue.

But I’ve had reviews that said the dialogue was not authentic, even “stilted.” Those kind have me biting my tongue to resist the temptation of responding that a high-profile New York literary agent opined, “You write well, and your dialogue is true to life, hard to do.” And that a writing coach/editor said my dialogue could be used as “a template for perfection,” and he could go on for two pages praising it. Over the top? Very possibly – but I’ll take it.

Here are two of my favorite reviews of Blood. How could I not love this one?

“A page turning timely novel about an attorney, racism and police brutality. Hiram Garbuncle is no Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) but the courtroom drama is intriguing. The storyline with detailed description of characters and places along with authentic dialogue makes this brilliantly written book by Bob Brink a must read.”

And then there is the glowing commendation from Kim Aalaie, who lavished praise on Murder in Palm Beach, then applied her salutary words to Blood on Their Hands. Aalaie compiled a volume of poems by her late mother, an award-winning poet, titled “The Lady Veteran Has Her Say.” Herewith:

Now all I have to do is figure out how to extract that halo from around my head.

P.S. If you’d like to read and review Blood on Their Hands, here’s a link to the eBook, free, in the format of your choice:

Of course, if you want to buy the book, just go to, or

#Amazon #TampaBay #Clearwater #KimAalaie #ThriftBooks #TheBlueRat #MichaelHartnett #ToKillaMockingbird #MurderinPalmBeach #bloodontheirhands #PalmHarbor #AtticusFinch #Pfizer #TheVeteranHasHerSay #BlueGowanus #AmazonKindle #ThePrairiesBookReview

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