The end of the King and Maxwell series

By Ande Jacobson

King and Maxwell is the sixth and final book in David Baldacci’s King & Maxwell series, and it doesn’t disappoint. The last three books of the series, First Family, The Sixth Man, and King and Maxwell are closely coupled, each picking up where the last one leaves off. Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are looking to get back to a more normal, less life-threatening routine when they come upon a teenager running through the woods with a gun in a vicious storm. The boy, Tyler Wingo, is frantic. He’s been informed that his father, Sam Wingo, was killed in combat in Afghanistan. The trouble is that Sam Wingo is very much alive, and he’s a hunted man though it takes a while to determine that this is the case. After some negotiation and being threatened by various government and government adjacent thugs, King, Maxwell, their client Tyler Wingo, his father Sam, and a couple of innocent bystanders are in grave danger. No matter the risks, they aren’t deterred from their quest to clear Sam’s name and get him and Tyler to safety. Continue reading

‘The Daughters of Kobani’ shows just what motivated women can do

By Ande Jacobson

In February 2021, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s groundbreaking book, The Daughters of Kobani, became available. This is an important book telling the story of the women of the Kurdish Militia, an all-female fighting force (the YPJ) that pushed back and took revenge on the men of ISIS to free Kobani and other Kurdish towns in northeastern Syria. They faced long odds and opposition from their families, the oppressive regime in their native Syria, and hostile neighboring nations. They showed that women are not only equal to men, they are a force to be taken seriously. Lemmon spent hundreds of hours on trips and interviews between 2017 and 2020. She spoke with a broad swath of militia members as well as with civilians just trying to survive in Syria and Iraq. She also talked with the American military advisors in country and with military and political functionaries in the U.S. about the challenges surrounding U.S. involvement. The U.S. was keenly aware of the dangers posed by ISIS to the region and to the world, so there was a vested interest in making this work. Continue reading

What happened to Edgar Roy?

By Ande Jacobson

David Baldacci’s fifth book in the King & Maxwell series came out in 2011. The story in The Sixth Man picks up where First Family left off. Sean King and Michelle Maxwell have again taken on more than they expected when they venture up to Maine to help out King’s old mentor on a case. A brilliant but troubled genius has been accused of mass murder. The man is Edgar Roy who theoretically worked for the IRS. In reality though, his job was far more complex than that. He was recruited to help the intelligence community in ways that are completely unimaginable. He was the only person in the country, and probably the world, who could do the job for which he was hired. He was part of something known as the E-Program, and he was the only E-Six ever discovered after a few E-Fives went down in flames. Continue reading

‘Lawyers Never Lie’ is a gripping legal comedy

By Ande Jacobson

Teri Kanefield is well-known in various circles as a writer, an appellate defense attorney, and an educator. Of late she’s been part of the building legal community on Twitter, patiently explaining various high profile legal matters rippling through public discourse. Before the heightened activity of legal Twitter, she was an award winning author writing across genres including nonfiction and fiction for both young readers and adults. Her nonfiction is carefully researched and expertly presented to inform and enthrall. Her fiction is gripping, often originating from a circumstance or event she knows well adhering to the old adage of writing what you know. Kanefield’s fiction also exemplifies something she holds close to heart – that fiction or literature in an ideal world is a creative way to get to the truth. This is the case in her engaging novel, Lawyers Never Lie. The story is largely autobiographical although the names have been changed, the ages have been shuffled, and the personalities have been modified to protect the innocent. The back cover starts with:

“A boy on the roof. A house in shambles. A new baby. A lawsuit.”

And ends with:

“A story of raising children, legal ethics, and fixing what is broken.”

Continue reading

Timothy Snyder’s ‘On Tyranny’ is a must read

By Ande Jacobson

In 2017, after one of the most contentious presidential elections our nation had experienced up to that point, Timothy Snyder wrote a little book capturing both history and the warning it provided to the current time. On Tyranny’s full title is: On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. In it, Snyder starts with a Prologue offering historical context framing what follows. The book starts with a wake-up call at the top of the Prologue:

“History does not repeat, but it does instruct.”

Continue reading

We need more people like Ruth Bader Ginsburg

By Ande Jacobson

In 2016, Teri Kanefield wrote a captivating biography of one of the giants of the U.S. justice system – Free to Be Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Story of Women and Law. In it, she starts with Ginsburg’s humble beginnings as the younger daughter of two Jewish Eastern European immigrants. She then follows her through her education, personal experiences, and her impressive judicial career first as an attorney and law school professor, then as a judge, and finally as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. In every capacity she held, she broke new ground and furthered the quest for equality and fairness in the country’s jurisprudence. Kanefield doesn’t just list facts and figures, she shows the reader a portrait of an incredible person of integrity and perseverance striving for fairness and equality across the board. Continue reading

The book every woodwind player and technician should have

By Ande Jacobson

Woodwind Instruments: a practical guide for technicians and repairers by Daniel Bangham is a new release that will be a useful reference for woodwind technicians and players alike. Expected in late October 2022 through The Crowood Press, Bangham’s book provides instructions for setting up a complete workshop to repair and maintain clarinets, flutes, saxophones, oboes, and bassoons. The detailed repair instructions for technicians include most routine and complex repairs they might encounter. For players, the book can serve as a guide on caring for their instruments along with what to look for when they are encountering problems going so far as instructing them on some stop gap measures until they can get their instruments to a repair shop. The book is aimed at technicians, particularly given the specialized equipment needed to affect repairs, but understanding more about how their instruments work helps players get the most out of them even if they don’t want to try to make the repairs themselves. Continue reading

The law applies to everyone, even the ‘First Family’

By Ande Jacobson

In 2009, David Baldacci’s fourth book in the King and Maxwell series dropped. As so many of his stories seem to be, First Family has some references that could directly apply over a decade later. Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are former Secret Service agents who had to leave the service under murky circumstances in the first book in their series, Split Second. At the end of that one, they established a partnership as private investigators. They’ve maintained some of their contacts within the service and other law enforcement agencies and have since taken on some complex cases as PIs. Continue reading

What keeps a Secretary of State up at night?

By Ande Jacobson

What happens when a former U.S. Secretary of State and a best-selling crime novelist decide to collaborate on a book? In October 2021, a gripping political thriller resulted from such a partnership. The book is State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny. The two became friends through a series of unlikely events. Clinton and her very close childhood friend, Betsy Johnson Ebeling shared a love of books. By chance in the summer of 2016, the two of them were reading one of Louise Penny’s books, something that Ebeling mentioned in an interview. Penny’s publicist happened to see the interview, and she arranged for Penny and Ebeling to meet at a publicity tour for Penny’s latest book that year. The two hit it off and became fast friends. In the fall of 2016 not long after her book tour, Penny’s beloved husband died of dementia. As Penny was reading some condolence cards, she opened one that changed her life again. The writer was Hillary Rodham Clinton, and it was toward the end of her brutal 2016 presidential campaign. Despite the intense pressure, she took the time to write an eloquent and heartfelt condolence note to Louise Penny, a woman she’d never met. Clinton knew Penny through her books and through Ebeling’s recent friendship with her and had to reach out. That was the first direct contact between Penny and Clinton. That, along with some other timely in-person meetings, started a close friendship. Sometimes that rapport thing just happens, and the three of them, Betsy, Hillary, and Louise, had that spark. And then in 2019, ending her long battle with breast cancer, Betsy died. Continue reading

How to stop the evil doers

By Ande Jacobson

Though first released in 2010, David Baldacci’s Deliver Us from Evil is just as relevant today. This is the second (and so far last) in the Shaw series. The story can stand alone and grips the reader from the very first page. Shaw works for a shadowy international organization under Frank Wells and was originally conscripted for his considerable talents in exchange for dismissing some sticky legal issues in which he’d been ensnared. While his every move is tracked, he takes on assignments to apprehend the most dangerous criminals to hand off to the appropriate law enforcement organizations through a cooperative, multinational effort. At the outset, Shaw is still smarting from his previous assignment through which his fiancée lost her life, and with her, he lost his heart. The bulk of his backstory was shared in the first book of the series, The Whole Truth. Continue reading