The Calm Before the Storm
Salman Rushdie once said “books choose their authors.”
That’s me. I can acknowledge it, but can barely say it as I struggle to take a deep breath.
Master of Deceit is more than the book I could never stop researching after working on the case at the Ohio Attorney General’s Office in 2010-2011. It was/is the mystery that would not let go, though I have good reason:
The book is about a former military spy who defrauded Americans of $100 million in donations intended for U.S. veterans, so he could funnel the money to Republican politics instead. The scam artist, John Donald Cody, hid his identity using the alias retired Lt. Commander Bobby Thompson.
The commander then showered donations on the nation’s top Republican politicians, earning time and photos with, President George W. Bush, Speaker of the House John Boehner, senators Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Fred Thompson, and more than a dozen other nationally known figures.
With his real identity concealed, no one was aware that Cody was wanted by the FBI for questioning on espionage, or that the money Americans donated for veterans never reached them.
So Cody not only scammed American veterans, he outwitted the U.S. intelligence community who allowed a wanted spy to get close to the president.
The book has taken me cross-country, both professionally and personally, and years of my life. It's weathered on through the loss of my mother to cancer and an untimely divorce, and both my sons' high school years. The journey has been crutched by supportive friends and a glass or two of whiskey or bourbon along the way.
Now, I am at juncture where I am able to breathe more deeply, and a point where it is time to wait. The wait, suffice it to say, is torture, but good torture! There is something very meaningful to wait for.
My literary agent, David Fugate, has presented the book to publishers and more than a half dozen remain interested. It’s a blessing of considerable measure for a former newspaper reporter. It is also agony.
The Bobby Thompson story gained national attention when the fraud was uncovered and again where his true identity was revealed. But the story never gained enough attention to push journalists to discover if Bobby Thompson worked alone? Or where the veterans’ money went to?
Or should I say, no journalists except me who trudged along as the nation instead was captivated by stories of the day, like the Salahis, who crashed a White House party for a photo opp before being discovered, or the latest billion dollar business scandal.
Just as the book chose me. I know it’s the book’s time. It’s time to learn the ending.