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Hello, World!  I’m back.  I didn’t plan to be away so long.  A lot has happened since I last was regularly posting.  First, I finished and published Dark Moon, A Legal Thriller, chapters of which I posted here as I worked on the book.  My heartfelt thanks to everyone who read those early posts and to everyone who has since purchased and enjoyed the finished product. A special thank you to everyone who has written to me about his or her experience with Dark Moon.

 

Then in August of last year, I published my second legal thriller, The Death of Distant Stars.  Whereas Dark Moon is the story of a criminal trial, The Death of Distant Stars is about a civil trial, a wrongful death suit that Kathryn Andrews brought against the pharmaceutical company that made the drug that killed her husband, Tom.  Again, my thanks to everyone who has enjoyed Distant Stars, and my deepest thanks to everyone who has taken the time to write to me.  It is the best thing in the world to wake up to an email from a reader who has enjoyed one of my books.
My characters have a way of refusing to go away at the end of a novel.   Sarah Knight, one of the central figures in Dark Moon, came back in Distant Stars to defend Hugh Mahoney, who was accused of obstruction of justice.   Hugh, who sees the world differently after his experiences with Kathryn and Sarah in Stars, is returning in my latest legal thriller, Mirror, Mirror.   Although he plays a smaller role in this book, the way that Sarah did in Distant Stars, his brash, hard-charging personality is once again on display.  Hugh, like most of my characters, is not black or white but many layers of gray. Carrie Moon, ex-wife of the formidable Howard Morgan, of Ride Your Heart Til It Breaks, also has a minor role in Mirror, Mirror.  For all the readers who thought she was a silly wimp to stick with Stan Benedict, you’ll discover what Carrie is really made of.
The hero of Mirror, Mirror is Jeff Ryder, who at thirty-three, is on top of the legal world as the story opens. He is on the verge of making partner at Warrick, Thompson, and Hayes, the law firm you all first met in Ride Your Heart.  But Jeff is knocked off his perch on the day that he wins one of the biggest cases of his career, and his downward descent is rapid and terrifying until he finds himself in jail, accused of four murders, and with an alibi that he cannot use because it will destroy the woman Jeff loves.  More next time.

 

 

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He died forty-two years ago in Quang Tin Province, South Vietnam on July 11, 1971. He, and his six crew mates, were mortally injured when their booby trapped helicopter blew up on the runway on June 16, 1971.

Army helicopters in Vietnam

Army helicopters in Vietnam

He was twenty-three years old, one year short of the age my oldest son turned on Saturday. His mother made it to the Army hospital in Vietnam in time to say good bye. Since the day my first son was born, I have been forever haunted by what Mrs. Workman must have felt on that military transport as she flew across the world to her dying son.

His eyes weren’t good enough to pilot the Army helicopters he dreamed of, but U.S. Army First Lieutenant Lance Davis Workman still made the flight crew. He never married. He didn’t have time.

Lance Davis Workman

Lance Davis Workman

Lance was slightly ahead of me in high school. He was one of the “cool kids” while I was a high school band geek. I only knew of him, really, because he left City High just as I was entering.

But in college, I dated a number of his fraternity brothers. I guess to him I was the “cute” freshman who hung out with the pledges. The Greek life for us was not the modern-day drunken brawls that make the news. The majority of us still lived with our parents in order to afford college. So hanging out at the fraternity house was a way to connect with friends. Lance wasn’t there a lot. He had been ROTC in high school, and he was ROTC in college. He wanted only one thing: to fly those helicopters in Vietnam.

Tennessee earned its nickname “The Volunteer State” during the war of 1812 when Tennessee volunteers, serving under Gen. Andrew Jackson, displayed marked valor in the Battle of New Orleans. They had already been fighting Indians under “Old Hickory” so they moseyed on down the Mississippi to fight the British. Later, some of them would join Tennesseans Sam Houston and Davy Crockett at the Alamo. Tennessee also supplied more soldiers for the Confederate Army than any other state, and more soldiers for the Union Army than any other Southern state. In short, Tennesseans are not afraid to fight. And Lance was a Tennessean.

The Vietnam War is a difficult subject. Later, after Lance had died and I knew more about how he and others like him were dying in vain a world away and after I had seen my generation turn guns on itself at Kent State, I would come to have strong feelings about ending that war. But my only feeling in the hot summer of 1971 was grief for the first of my friends to die. In fact, we were all so committed to the war at the time that when the only peacenik on campus tried to organize a protest by offering free doughnuts, no one showed up to eat a single Krispy Kreme. Not one.

Lance was laid to rest at Chattanooga Memorial Park on July 17, 1971, at 10 a.m. It was a hot, sunny Southern summer day. We all stood under the pines on the side of that impossibly perfect green hill to say goodbye with the old blue Appalachians looking down at us. The Army honor guard came from Fort McPherson, Georgia, to carry his flag-covered coffin. I cried when the bugler played taps, and they folded the flag, and presented it to Lance’s mother and father.

Chattanooga Memorial Park

Chattanooga Memorial Park

We know so little about how long our lives will be. I have had forty-two years since that hot July day. I’ve raised three souls entrusted into my care and have told them the stories of Lance and the others who had so little time. Southerners always honor the dead by telling their stories. What none of us knew on the morning of July 17, 1971, as the sharp July sun beat down on our tears, was that by September, we would all assemble again, just a few yards away to say goodby to Lance’s close friend Cissy, who, at barely twenty-one, would die of a blood clot from the early birth control bills. And within two more years, I would be standing under the same pines, burying my father, who didn’t quite make sixty-three.

My last memory of Lance, however, is not of his coffin under the flag surrounded by the honor guard. No. My last memory of Lance is seeing him dance at probably the last fraternity party he went to before he entered the Army. It was a Western-themed party, and he was wearing a kid’s cowboy hat and cap pistols in a plastic holster. He was dancing and laughing and was probably slightly drunk because we had a big keg that night. He was having the time of his life. That is the memory I will always have of him.

Lance's red hat

Lance’s red hat

He is a true American hero and today is his day and the day of all like him who have died for us. I wish we had been real friends, Lance; but I admire you and cherish your memory.

You can find LANCE DAVIS WORKMAN honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Panel 3W, Row 106.

The Vietnam Memorial

The Vietnam Memorial

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