"Brisk and enjoyable.... Satisfying suspects, plausible motives, and some truly surprising plot twists make this a winner. Readers will clamor for the next installment"
Terrific review from Publishers Weekly for my upcoming Clare Carlson book!
"Brisk and enjoyable.... Satisfying suspects, plausible motives, and some truly surprising plot twists make this a winner. Readers will clamor for the next installment"
I wrote this piece nine years ago when I published my novel THE KENNEDY CONNECTION, about a reporter trying to solve the mysteries of the the JFK assassination on Nov. 22, 1963. I asked 10 questions about what really happened that day. None of them have ever been answered. And so the the assassination of President John F. Kennedy remains the biggest unsolved murder in history....
WHY DID OSWALD HAVE ONLY FOUR BULLETS?
Everyone knows there were three spent cartridges found next to the rifle on the sixth floor of the Texas Book Depository. Another bullet was in the chamber of the rifle. But no other ammunition was ever found. Not at the scene, not on Oswald, not in his belongings, not at his home or anywhere else. There was only one or two stores in the Dallas area that sold ammunition for that particular rifle, and no evidence Oswald had ever bought any. So why would Oswald go off to shoot the President with only four bullets for his weapon?
WHY DID SLAIN POLICE OFFICER J.D. TIPPIT STOP OSWALD?
The Warren Commission theorized that it was because Oswald fit the description of a suspect seen fleeing the JFK assassination scene. 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 prior to their deadly encounter?
WHERE DID THE POLICE DESCRIPTION OF A JFK SUSPECT COME FROM?
No one really knows how the police description – vague as it was – ever originated. 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.
WAS OSWALD EVEN ON THE 6TH FLOOR AT THE TIME OF THE SHOOTING?
There are no confirmed sightings of Oswald on the 6th floor when JFK was shot. There are, however, a number of people who reported seeing Oswald in other parts of the building, including eating n the lunchroom, shortly before the assassination. Some of these Oswald sightings were as late as 12:25 p.m. , just five minutes before the shots rang out. Making it even more mysterious was that the presidential motorcade was running at least five minutes behind schedule. All of this raises real questions about why Oswald wouldn’t have been in the 6th floor sniper’s perch with the rifle waiting for the motorcade to pass by.
WHAT WAS OSWALD’S MOTIVE?
Why would Lee Harvey Oswald want to kill President Kennedy? If he was indeed a Marxist sympathizer as he proclaimed, Kennedy was an unlikely target. JFK was a liberal president who had been working – against the advice of many hardliners in the government – to end the cold war with the Soviet Union. People who knew Oswald said he had expressed admiration for the young President. The most likely scenario for a motive has always been that Oswald was just an angry little man who wanted to become famous – and thought killing the President was the way to do it. But, if that were true, why did he flee, why did he deny it when he was arrested? If it was all about his ego, wouldn’t he have proclaimed it loudly to the world? To this day, no one has ever come up with a plausible motive why Oswald might have wanted President Kennedy dead.
WHY DID OSWALD GO HOME TO GET A GUN?
After the assassination, Oswald took a taxi and bus back to the rooming house where he was staying. When he got there, he took a handgun from his room and then left for what would be his encounter with Police Officer J.D. Tippit and subsequent arrest in a movie theater. But, if he had really planned to shoot the President that day, why wouldn’t he have taken the handgun with him when he left for work? Instead, it seems as if something unexpected had happened that made Oswald think he needed to go back to where he was living for the gun.
DID A POLICE CAR STOP IN FRONT OF OSWALD’S HOUSE?
Oswald’s landlady made a troublesome claim – which some people give credit to and others are more skeptical of – that a Dallas police car stopped in front of Oswald’s rooming house, honked several times and then pulled away just after 1 p.m. This was about an hour before Oswald’s name would even emerge in the JFK assassination. The Dallas police department said there were no reports of police cars in the area at that time.
HOW DID JACK RUBY GET INTO THE POLICE STATION TO KILL OSWALD?
Sure, Ruby was a friend of cops and had been in the stationhouse earlier in the weekend while Oswald was in custody. But on the morning of November 24, Ruby was running errands with his dogs in the car at the time Oswald was originally scheduled to be transferred. And then somehow he wound up in the basement at exactly the right time to pull the trigger. Many have theories about Ruby’s movements and motives on that day, but no real answers.
DID OSWALD KNOW RUBY?
Some people who worked at Jack Ruby’s strip club made claims – none substantiated – that they saw Oswald there as a patron. There was also speculation that both men had known the same underworld figures. And some have even speculated that there seemed to be a look of recognition on Oswald’s face in the basement of the Dallas police station seconds before Ruby lunged out of the crowd and shot him. But no actual relationship has ever been established between the two men until Ruby silenced Oswald forever with a single gunshot to the stomach.
WHY DIDN’T EARL WARREN TAKE RUBY BACK TO WASHINGTON TO TESTIFY?
When Chief Justice Earl Warren and other members of the Warren Commission went To Dallas to interview Jack Ruby in prison, Ruby pleaded with Warren to take him back to Washington to testify, saying his life was in danger in Dallas and “I want to tell the truth, and I can’t tell it here.” Warren refused and Ruby died a few years later, taking his secrets to the grave with him. And leaving us with so many unanswered questions….
Just got this terrific early review from the Men Reading Books blog for BROADCAST BLUES, my upcoming Clare Carlson book.
"Clare Carlson is a most compelling character...I could not put this one down. Belsky hits a nice balance between some good humor in the dialogue and real danger to his characters in the plot. I did not see the resolution of the main plot and subplots until the story got tied together at the end – didn’t see it coming...this novel gets my strongest recommendation."
My publisher just launched a big Goodreads giveaway event today for my upcoming Clare Carlson book. You can enter for a chance to win one of 100 digital copies of BROADCAST BLUES being given away. The giveaway runs through December 3. https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/377034-broadcast-blues?fbclid=IwAR3QlYDY1wAxJwTu9rz8-l_SxTYXeBTYtrhXoaYObuw4dPxaysuhLlQ6iRM
Just a few days left in my Goodreads giveaway - ends Oct. 24.
I'm giving away 10 paperback copies of IT'S NEWS TO ME - my latest Clare Carlson mystery.
The paperback version just came out this month.
Enter for a chance to win...
Upcoming ad in Publishers Weekly for my new book BROADCAST BLUES. Coming in January. I'm in some pretty good company here with these other Oceanview authors!
All five of my Clare Carlson mystery novels are selling for just $1.99 apiece until the end of September as part of a limited Kindle deal. Here’s what people are saying about Clare:
“Witty, clever and engaging. Clare Carlson’s irreverent comments and dogged reporter’s instincts make for a propulsive ride”—Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times best-selling author
“Heroine Clare Carlson is formidable, human, and thoroughly authentic. R. G. Belsky knows his stuff.” —Meg Gardiner, Edgar Award-winning author
“In today's world of fake news and alternate facts, R. G. Belsky reminds us why we need reporters like Clare Carlson more than ever before. She is what we want all our journalists to be—honest, objective, and relentless in her pursuit of the truth.” —Lee Goldberg, New York Times best-selling author
A four-star review this morning for IT'S NEWS TO ME on the first day of the blog tour. Love it!
"This is the latest novel from Belsky featuring Clare Carlson, once crack newspaper reporter now TV news reporter and executive. I have followed her amateur sleuthing through several novels, liking every one.
"Clare has two tasks in this novel. One is to survive the ruthless executive placed over her. Endicott has only ratings in mind, no matter who is harmed. That goes against Clare's personality and the sparks fly. Clare must also find out who brutally murdered a college student and why. Clare is tenacious, going after unanswered questions even when the police think they have the murderer behind bars.
"Belsky provides a good balance of mystery and personal life. Clare's a brave and savvy amateur sleuth. She also has a tough time living a successful personal life. She's a flawed character having made some very stupid personal decisions. Yet I still get the impression she has a good heart, often following it to relationship disaster. Her character provides some snappy relationship dialogue and thoughts. “When the going gets tough, the tough go eat.”
"Belsky was in the news profession and it shows. I like how he relates the tension in the news room, contrasting the pressure for ratings with compassion for the victims and their families. Belsky also lives in New York and he does a great job creating the setting for us. His writing style is good and I like how he portrays Clare's quick wit, troubled relationships and tenacious investigation."
I met Brendan Kaiser, the owner of my TV station Channel 10 and about a zillion other properties, for lunch on a sunny spring day at a restaurant called Tri-Bar in lower Manhattan.
Tri-Bar is what’s known in New York as a celebrity restaurant. In other words, whenever you read the gossip columns, there’ll be an item about how “so and so said such and such over dinner last night at Tri-Bar . . .”
Robert DeNiro sometimes ate there. So did Jimmy Fallon and Alec Baldwin and Julia Roberts when she was in town.
I’d been to trendy hotspots like this a few times to see if I could spot someone famous. Mostly all I ever saw were a lot of other people like me hoping to see if they could recognize anyone. The closest I ever came to a celebrity was when I ran into Sally Struthers once in the ladies’ room of a restaurant on the Upper East Side. It had been a long time since Sally was a big star on All in the Family. My last memory of her had been doing those late-night infomercials about world hunger, and she sure didn’t look much like Gloria Bunker anymore. I decided not to ask for her autograph.
There was some kind of a maître d’ standing at the entrance to Tri-Bar. He wore a black tuxedo like outfit, highly shined shoes, and white gloves. I had on a pair of tan Calvin Klein jeans, a chocolate-colored silk blouse, and beige sandals. I thought my outfit was pretty swell, but he looked me over coolly.
“Is there something I can do for you, ma’am?”
“I’m looking for Brendan Kaiser. My name is Clare Carlson.”
“I’m the news editor of Channel 10 News.”
He still didn’t seem too impressed.
Maybe he didn’t like my color coordination.
“And what might your business be with Mr. Kaiser?”
“Well, I might be here to pick up his dry cleaning, but I’m not. How about I discuss my business with him?”
He scowled and picked up a phone to check with someone inside.
The truth was I wasn’t sure why Brendan Kaiser wanted to meet me here. I’d had a few dealings with him in the past on big stories in my job as the news director for Channel 10—but he’d never invited me to lunch. Maybe he was going to give me a raise. Maybe he was going to tell me I’d been named Employee of the Month. All I knew is that when the big boss asks you to go to lunch with him, you go to lunch.
The maître d’ still looked unhappy when he got off the phone, but he eventually directed me to a table inside. Brendan Kaiser was already there. Kaiser was in his 50s, with thick gray hair. Not a bad-looking guy, but he did have a bit of a paunch. I noticed it when he stood up to greet me. Probably from eating too many lunches at a place like Tri-Bar.
“Thank you for coming on such short notice, Clare,” he said. His office had just arranged the meeting with me a few hours earlier. “I hope I didn’t interfere with any other lunch plans you had for today.”
“Well, until I got your call, my lunch plan had been to go for a Big Mac at McDonald’s. That special sauce they put on it is to die for.”
We made small talk for a few minutes, and then a waiter came over and took our orders. Kaiser was having some kind of duck dish with orange sauce and shoestring potatoes. I went for the tortellini with a salad. According to the menu I’d scanned, this meal was going to cost a lot of money. What the hell—he was paying, not me. Whatever happened next, maybe I’d at least get a good meal out of it.
“So do you want to tell me what this whole lunch deal between me and you is all about?” I said after a bit more conversation.
“You do get to the point, don’t you?”
“I’m a journalist. I used to be a newspaper reporter. I like to get to the lead of the story as quickly as I can.”
“The reason I asked to see you like this was to discuss a situation we need to deal with, Clare.”
“What kind of situation?”
“A situation involving Channel 10 News.”
“I didn’t know we had a situation.”
I took a drink of some iced tea I’d ordered with my meal. I wished now it was something stronger.
“Look, I think that everyone at Channel 10 news is doing a really terrific job,” Kaiser said.
“Glad to hear it.”
“Especially you as news director.”
“Glad to hear that too.”
“And you’re a star, besides being the news director. You’ve broken some big stories for us, gotten a lot of publicity and notice in the media world. The Charles Hollister murder case. The serial killer you helped catch. I appreciate that from you, Clare. I appreciate all of your success and all your hard work. I really do.”
“There is a ‘but’ coming here, right?”
“Yes, there is,” Kaiser sighed. “Despite all your hard work, the ratings—and, as a result, the advertising revenue—isn’t quite at the level we need at Kaiser Media to run a profitable news operation. I want to do better. I think we can do better.”
The waiter brought our food. We both ate in silence for a few minutes. I waited to see what Brendan Kaiser would say next. I didn’t really have anything to say. So I stuck my fork into the tortellini and bit into a piece. Pretty tasty. Good cream sauce too. Almost as good as the sauce on a Big Mac.
“I’ve decided to make some changes at Channel 10 News,” Kaiser said finally, nibbling on a shoestring potato.
“What kind of changes?”
“Changes at the top.”
“Wait a minute—are you firing me?”
“No, of course not.”
“Demoting me? Is that the reason for this lunch?”
“You’re still going to be the news editor.”
“But you said you were making changes at the top so . . .”
That’s when it hit me.
“Jack Faron?” I asked.
Jack Faron was the executive producer at Channel 10 News. My boss.
“I’m replacing Faron. Jack’s done a good job, but he’s more old school than we need right now. I’d like to put someone in the job with more drive, more energy, more new ideas. So I’ve hired a new executive producer. Jack will still be with us at Channel 10 News. But moving forward, he’s going to be in a more . . . uh, advisory role.”
“Does Jack know about this?”
“Not yet. I know you’re close to him, so I wanted to make sure you were the first to hear about this.”
I wasn’t sure what to say. Jack Faron had been my mentor at Channel 10 News. The one who had hired me when the newspaper I worked for went out of business. The one that stood by me when my early on-air appearances as a TV reporter bombed. The one who promoted me to news editor and had backed me on every story and crisis since then.
And now he was not going to be there for me.
At least not in the same way.
I asked Kaiser the obvious question.
“Who’s replacing him as executive producer?”
“Susan Endicott,” he said. “Do you know her?”
“I think you two will get along really well. That’s why I wanted to have this conversation with you. I want you to accept this. I want you to understand the reason for it. I want you to be happy. I want you to help make Susan Endicott feel welcome here. Are you good with all that, Clare?”
“Hey, you know me—I’m a team player.”
“No, you’re not.”
I sighed. “Yeah, you’re right, I’m not.”
“Let’s try to make this work, huh?”
I wasn’t sure what to say next, but it turned out I didn’t have to. I got a break. My phone rang, and—when I looked down at it—saw it was from Maggie Lang, my top editor at Channel 10 News.
“Where are you?” Maggie said.
I hadn’t told anyone who I was having lunch with.
“We’ve got a big story breaking. A murder. Female college student found murdered near Washington Square Park.”
“Who is she?”
“Her name’s Riley Hunt. She came here from Ohio to go to school at Easton College, not far from the park. Family has money, it sounds like. Her father’s a doctor back in Ohio, her mother a lawyer.”
“All hands-on-deck for this one,” I said.
“Already done. We’re gonna lead the newscast with it at 6.”
After I hung up with Maggie, I told Kaiser what was happening. I said I needed to get back to the station right away to direct the news coverage. That wasn’t totally true, Maggie could have handled it on her own. But I wanted to get out of here, and this seemed to be the perfect excuse. I didn’t like what was happening to Jack Faron. I didn’t like the fact I knew about it before him. And I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like Susan Endicott, even though I’d never met her.
And so I did what I do anytime I can’t deal with problems in my life. I threw myself into a big story.
And this murder sounded like a big story.
I said goodbye to Kaiser, walked through Tri-Bar and out the front door to catch a cab back to the Channel 10 newsroom.
The maître d’ didn’t bother to say goodbye.
Excerpt from It’s News to Me by R.G. Belsky. Copyright 2022 by R.G. Belsky. Reproduced with permission from R.G. Belsky. All rights reserved.
Love these guys! They always give me great reviews!
"A great story, a fun read, and a raucous escape from Covid-19, Ukraine, and the roller coaster weather. This is Belsky's 5th Clare Carleson book, all of which have been reviewed by the boys at MRB. All told Belsky has at least 12 books to his credit and most all pertain to 'the news' because that's what he does. He's made a career of 'the news' be in print, TV, digital, etc. mostly in New York. He writes what he knows: Crime, NYC, News. And he's dang good at it."