Tuesday, October 7, 2014

My thoughts on “Low Winter Sun”

“Low Winter Sun,” the 10-part series set in the nether world of cops and criminals in Detroit, is worth watching for the writing, the story, the characters, and the atmosphere of one of America’s fallen cities. Two piercing characters stand out: The protagonist, homicide detective Frank Agnew, who is driven to extremes by maddened love. And, Sean Foster who emerges from the depths of a failed police career, drunkenness, homelessness, and dope as an heroic figure to make an extraordinary sacrifice for his old comrade Frank Agnew. It reminded me of one soldier dying to save another on a battlefield. In a stretch, Sean Foster could be viewed as a metaphor for Detroit: a dismaying exterior masking a noble soul—if given the chance. “Low Winter Sun” is an AMC series now available on Netflix.

A SUGGESTION: My novel, THE PENCIL ARTIST, is now available as a free download on, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble.
Try it, enjoy it, and if you are in the mood, review it.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Januarius MacGahan novel more free downloads

BEN CONNOLLY in the PARIS COMMUNE, my novel based on Januarius MacGahan's reporting for the New York Herald on the 1872 uprising by Parisians against the French national government will be a free Kindle download from Monday,Sept. 8, 2014 through Friday, Sept. 12, 2014.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Paula Milne’s THE POLITICIAN’S HUSBAND, a three-part BBC TV series, is an enjoyable experience for viewers with a serious or literary mindset. I watched the series on Netflix immediately realizing that THE POLITICIAN’S HUSBAND along with the UK and US versions of HOUSE of CARDS fit into what has become a genre: political ambition with a nasty zing. While both versions of HOUSE of CARDS are spiced with humor and ridiculous bombings and other forms of murder, THE POLITICIAN’S HUSBAND is written in a more serious vein, more satisfying for the viewers who feel a touch of contempt for casual killings and explosions. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed HOUSE of CARDS, US and UK. Note that I led this blog with Paula Milne’s name because I attribute the core excellence of the show to her writing. The two leading actors, Emily Watson and David Tennant, turn in memorable performances as does everyone else in the cast. I found THE POLITICIAN’S HUSBAND through a search of Emily Watson’s films on Netflix after seeing her in APPROPRIATE ADULT, a film worth watching. Next, I am planning to watch Paula Milne’s THE POLITICIAN’S WIFE, another three-part series, which is available as a single disc on DVD.

A suggestion: My novel, THE PENCIL ARTIST, is now available as a free download on, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble.
Try it, enjoy it, and if you are in the mood, review it.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Why is T.R. Ragan’s ABDUCTED (The Lizzy Garner Series #1) so huge a seller?

When I came across a reference on The Story Reading Ape's Blog about the phenomenal success of indie-author T.R. Ragan’s ABDUCTED (The Lizzy Garner Series #1), I decided to read the novel in search of the reason why? If memory serves me, Ragan has sold about 400,000 copies of ABDUCTED, a self-published book that I probably never would have picked up if it weren’t to serve my curiosity about that ringing cash register. The book, of course, is well written. It moved nicely for me, but did not propel me through the pages. The protagonist Lizzy Garner is somewhat unusual in that she was kidnapped as a teenager by a serial killer, but alone of all his many victims she escaped. Fourteen years later that evil man returns to pursue Lizzy who has become a skilled private investigator and wants nothing more than to bring him to justice. All in all, I found little unusual or compelling about the protagonist or the plot. Obviously, thousands of readers would disagree. Checking Amazon, I found there were 2,382 customer reviews. Of that number, 1,329 were five-star and 782 were four-star reviews. Of course there were the negatives: 40 one-star and 49 two-star reviews. That adds up to a ratio of 27 to 1 of those who seriously liked or loved ABDUCTED versus those who hated or didn’t care for the book. I would be overjoyed to get a ratio like that for any one of my books. Admittedly, I would overjoyed to get more than 27 reviews for any one of my novels. Ragan herself is puzzled by her achievement. She worked hard at promoting and advertising ABDUCTED, but so have many other writers, who produced well-written novels with little audience success. Ragan wrote in the writers guide to e-publishing: on July 27, 2012: “Since selling 300,000 books in a little over a year, one of the questions I am asked most frequently is: How did you do it? Answer: I have no idea!” My answer is that she found a huge audience who loves her work.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

My thoughts on IN THE SHADOW of STRANGERS by Wendy Reakes

What did I like about this novel? It was a comfortably readable, intriguing story that follows the culinary career of, Katherine Killa, an ambitious woman from a very modest background. What Katherine brings to her ever-evolving occupation is a consuming work ethic and a dedication to perfection in her restaurants. What she doesn’t know is that an act of bravery early in her life in saving a girl from rape will result in her getting a secret mentor, a secret unrequited lover, and an unknown evil enemy. The title provides the theme of IN THE SHADOW of STRANGERS and the writer, Wendy Reakes, provides a novel well worth reading.

Monday, May 5, 2014

FOUR TUESDAYS and a Friday in May

My historical novel, BEN CONNOLLY in the PARIS COMMUNE, will be available as a free download from Kindle f0r four Tuesdays and a Friday during May, 2014: May 6, 13, 20, 23, and 27. The military accomplishments and death of Jaroslaw Dombrowski along with the stunning heroics of Louise Michel are part of the complex story of what Marx called the Civil War in France. There has been only one review of this novel so far and that by a reader in the United Kingdom who said he couldn’t put it down. What better recommendation could novel have? Please download it, read it, and review it if you are so inclined.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

PATHS OF GLORY by Humphrey Cobb, some thoughts on the novel

Humphrey Cobb’s novel, PATHS of Glory, written in 1935 can best be summed up as a story of soldiers as pawns of ambitious, self-centered generals on a battlefield in World War I. Every facet of the soldier in combat goes on display in this riveting novel: courage, cowardice, acceptance of one’s fate, a futile belief that things will turn out better. The generals fit into a separate category from the soldiers. The generals view the battle as a game with the promise of promotion and glory if won and irritation at the failure of others if lost. In PATHS of GLORY little thought is given to sending men to be slaughtered by the hundreds and thousands by machine guns and artillery in frontal charges. So the uncaring generals’ mindsets can be understood when bizarrely ordering the execution of three brave, innocent soldiers for cowardice because their battalion failed to take an objective against impossible odds. There would have been four soldiers sent to the firing squad, but for a company commander who refused to obey the order to randomly select a victim. The 1957 film of PATHS of GLORY, starring Kirk Douglas, was great; the novel, PATHS of GLORY by Humphrey Cobb is even better.

A suggestion: My novel, THE PENCIL ARTIST, is now available as a free download on, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble.
Try it, enjoy it, and if you are in the mood, review it.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lament for what novelist A.S.A. Harrison might have written

THE SILENT WIFE took A.S.A. Harrison ten years to write. What a triumph this first novel turned out to be. Unfortunately, she died in April, 2013 at the age of 65 two months before the book was published. Dipping into THE SILENT WIFE was like savoring the best hot fudge Sundae I have ever had, with lots of real whipped cream of course. The novel was a joy to consume. A.S.A. Harrison provided all of the ingredients that make a book extra special: the writing, the depth of the character, the plot, and the surprises. If you are hungry for a great literary novel, read this one. When you finish THE SILENT WIFE, you will be as sorry as I am that A.S.A. Harrison will write no more.

A suggestion: My novel, THE PENCIL ARTIST, is now available as a free download on, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble.
Try it, enjoy it, and if you are in the mood, review it.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A five-star review of THE TRUCKERS

This is the first online review of my novel, THE TRUCKERS, which is a combination parallel and sequel to my nonfiction book, COLLISION/How the Rank and File Took Back the Teamsters: 5.0 out of 5 stars Another Good Story by Kenneth C. Crowe February 14, 2014 By Miles Henri Sumner Format:Kindle Edition I think I like the way Mr. Crowe writes. This is the third book by Mr. Crowe that I've read. His work is not boring. In 'Truckers' I began to recall my time as a member of the Teamsters Union in Los Angeles, California, both before and after my military service in the 1960's. This story exposes, mostly in the perspective of the Organized Labor Zealot, how power and corruption tend to go hand-in-hand. Now that I live in the Philippines (there are no Unions here) I recognize the beneficial effect Unionization has had on the lifestyle of the American worker, even though it's another layer of bureaucracy that must be nourished at the consumers' expense. This story is fiction, yet there are parallels to real people and events; don't look for the answer to the question: "where is Jimmy Hoffa?" ! ! ! Miles, a voracious reader, has reviewed six of my seven online novels giving each a five-star rating. Obviously, I appreciate his positive view of my books.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

“Unputdownable” free novel

BEN CONNOLLY in the PARIS COMMUNE will be a free Kindle download for five days: from Monday, Feb. 10 through Friday, Feb. 14. A reviewer in the UK called the novel “unputdownable.” What a succinct way to describe a readable book. The full review by S. Graham: “Beats Les Miserables into a cocked hat. “Based on the true account of a news reporter sent to cover the Paris Commune. Unputdownable. Sorry when it finished and am keeping it to reread another day.” |

Monday, January 13, 2014


Nowadays if you want to start a revolution, an audience of potential recruits and sympathizers is only a few clicks away on the internet via blogs, email, Facebook, chat rooms, YouTube, Twitter, and the list goes on. How much more difficult such an undertaking was 39 year years ago when a dozen dissident Teamsters gathered in Ken Paff’s living room in Cleveland, spending four hours plotting how to create a national grassroots organization of truck drivers and dock workers, who like them, were dissatisfied with their notoriously corrupt union. I have told this story before, but the courageous, self-sacrificing, and poetic saga of 31-year-old Steve Kindred’s odyssey is worth recounting again and again to illustrate his commitment to reforming the American labor movement, the Teamsters in particular. Chipping in, the dissidents came up with a $100 kitty, which doesn’t sound like much but in that earlier time $89 was enough pay for a ticket allowing 21 days of travel to wherever Greyhound buses went. Kindred, who had the gift of gab, climbed onto a Greyhound in Cleveland’s bus terminal on a dreary April morning in 1975 with only a few dollars in his pocket along with five pounds of Spanish peanuts, three pounds of raisins, and a list of Teamster activists culled from various sources. Can you imagine the ordeal he faced: having to sleep on buses and wash in public restrooms, lingering in bus terminals waiting for the targeted Teamster member to show up or the bus to the next city, hoping the person he was meeting would treat him to a meal. And, there was always the possibility of getting his head bashed in. Kindred had been beaten up by thugs at the 1972 Teamsters convention. The affable, loquacious Kindred, who had attended the University of Chicago before being expelled for his role as a student activist, had been a taxi driver and a truck driver, which earned him the right to his audience. Those he spoke to in the 22 cities he reached (including Dallas, Memphis, Little Rock, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, Chicago, St. Louis and Los Angeles) were to form the nucleus of Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU), created in 1976 to battle the business unionists and outright criminals running the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Teamsters for a Democratic Union, which is the union’s reform party, has compiled an admirable record of accomplishments through the years including fighting off contract giveaways and being directly responsible for both getting the rank and file the right to vote for the union’s hierarchy and for the election of Ron Carey to the presidency of the IBT in 1992. As the years went by, Kindred moved to New York City where he worked as a truck driver continuing his calling as an advocate for workers. He was most recently involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement. Kindred, who had a life worth living, died from cancer this past Dec. 9. He will be honored at a memorial at 4:00 p.m. on Feb. 8, a Saturday, at the Murphy Center/ CUNY Labor Studies Dep’t, 25 West 43rd Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues, in New York. Perhaps, I’ll see you there.