Getting ready for Deadly Ink Mystery Conference this weekend at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick, N.J. Friday nite, Saturday and Sunday. I'll be appearing on two panels - Putting History into Mystery and Rollercoaster Rides: What Makes a Thriller Compelling." Donald Bain and his wife, Renee Paley-Bain are the guests of honor. Advance copies of The Kennedy Connection will be ready for signing so should be a good kickoff as I get ready for official pub date of August 12.
Even if one accepts the official story that it was Lee Harvey Oswald who shot Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit after the JFK killing, there is still one baffling question that remains unanswered: Why did Tippit stop Oswald on the street in the first place?
The Warren Commission concluded it was because Oswald fit the description of the suspected Kennedy assassin that had gone out over the police radio.
Okay, that sort of makes sense when you first hear it. Except – upon examination of the facts – it makes no sense at all.
The police description broadcast that day was for an: “Unknown white male, approximately 30, 165 pounds, slender build…no further information or description at this time.” That general description clearly matched much of the male population of Dallas. (and didn’t exactly match Oswald). So why did Tippit – seeing a man simply walking down a street in the middle of the day miles from the assassination site – decide to stop him as a possible suspect?
There are also many questions about where the police description – vague as it was – ever came from. Many believe it was based on a witness, Howard Brennan, who claimed to have seen a man in the sixth floor window at the time of the assassination. But other accounts say the description came from an unidentified source who said he saw an unidentified man running from the Book Depository after the shots were fired. No official basis for the police broadcast of that early description was ever confirmed.
What does all of this mean? I have no idea. Oswald and Tippit were the only people who really knew the circumstances that brought them together on that fateful afternoon. All the rest is just speculation. Maybe Oswald did something, said something to make Tippit suspicious - or maybe it wasn't even Oswald at all that shot him.
But I do know that the official version of the Oswald/Tippit encounter just doesn’t add up to me.
Aug. 2014. 352p. Atria, paperback, $16 (9781476762326).
REVIEW. First published July 7, 2014 (Booklist Online).
A disgraced reporter tries to turn his career around with a story that could solve the 50-year-old assassination of JFK. A literary agent tells reporter Gil Malloy about a man who claims to be the illegitimate son of Lee Harvey Oswald. The man believes he has a solid alibi for his father on November 22, 1963. While Malloy tries to prove the man’s claims, a murderer is running amok in Manhattan, leaving his victims with Kennedy half-dollars by their bodies. Are the killings related to the events of the past? Belsky’s tale adds another intriguing alternative interpretation of the Kennedy assassination and will appeal to those who just can’t leave the grassy knoll alone. — Jeff Ayers
New York reporter Gil Malloy has been publicly disgraced by the taint of a fabricated source (think Jayson Blair), but he still holds a position at the paper. Unexpectedly, his former literary agent pitches him a wild story; she knows a man who claims to be Lee Harvey Oswald's son and has proof that his father didn't assassinate President John F. Kennedy. Malloy shrugs this off, instead opting to help Roberto Santiago, an old police detective friend who is convinced that a long-ago shooting case was a police cover-up. Santiago dies shortly after in a hit-and-run accident, and Malloy gets distracted by a more glamorous case. A photographer named Shawn Kennedy has been murdered, with a Kennedy half-dollar left next to her body. A second killing occurs, and another Kennedy half-dollar is left on the scene. Suddenly, knowing more about Oswald Jr. becomes imperative. Muscling his way into the spotlight, Malloy fails to see key clues connecting his two stories. Meanwhile, the body count increases. VERDICT Belsky's (Playing Dead) quick read has unexpectedly clever twists, perfect for the conspiracy-oriented reader. The first-person narrative keeps the tone personal.
R.G. Belsky is an author of crime fiction and a journalist in New York City. His new suspense thriller, BLONDE ICE, was published by Atria in 2016. It follows THE KENNEDY CONNECTION in 2014 and SHOOTING FOR THE STARS in 2015. They are part of a series of books featuring Gil Malloy, a hard-driving newspaper reporter with a penchant for breaking big stories on the front page of the New York Daily News. Belsky himself is a former managing editor at the Daily News and writes about the media from an extensive background in newspapers, magazines and TV/digital news. At the Daily News, he also held the titles of metropolitan editor and deputy national editor. Before that, he was metropolitan editor of the New York Post and news editor at Star magazine. Belsky was most recently the managing editor for news at NBCNews.com – where he worked closely with Nightly News with Brian Williams, the Today show and oversaw all digital news content on the NBCNews website. His previous suspense novels include PLAYING DEAD and LOVERBOY.