BY LINDA BENNETT PENNELL
Publication Date: July 9, 2013
Soul Mate Publishing
eBook & Paperback; 320 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel tells a story of lives unfolding in different centuries, but linked and irrevocably altered by a series of murders in 1930.
Lake City, Florida, June, 1930: Al Capone checks in for an unusually long stay at the Blanche Hotel, a nice enough joint for an insignificant little whistle stop. The following night, young Jack Blevins witnesses a body being dumped heralding the summer of violence to come. One-by-one, people controlling county vice activities swing from KKK ropes. No moonshine distributor, gaming operator, or brothel madam, black or white, is safe from the Klan’s self-righteous vigilantism. Jack’s older sister Meg, a waitress at the Blanche, and her fiancé, a sheriff’s deputy, discover reasons to believe the lynchings are cover for a much larger ambition than simply ridding the county of vice. Someone, possibly backed by Capone, has secret plans for filling the voids created by the killings. But as the body count grows and crosses burn, they come to realize this knowledge may get all of them killed.
Gainesville, Florida, August, 2011: Liz Reams, an up and coming young academic specializing in the history of American crime, impulsively moves across the continent to follow a man who convinces her of his devotion yet refuses to say the three simple words I love you. Despite the entreaties of friends and family, she is attracted to edginess and a certain type of glamour in her men, both living and historical. Her personal life is an emotional roller coaster, but her career options suddenly blossom beyond all expectation, creating a very different type of stress. To deal with it all, Liz loses herself in her professional passion, original research into the life and times of her favorite bad boy, Al Capone. What she discovers about 1930’s summer of violence, and herself in the process, leaves her reeling at first and then changed forever.
Praise for Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel
5 Star Top Pick “…brilliantly written…” – BTSemagazine
“…The characters were so well done that I latched onto them and wanted to know where their journey was going to end up. It’s a fascinating read. The way the author wrote this story made it so easy to get a visual of the characters, the setting and just life in general – you could feel yourself in the ’30′s, living what they were living and you could feel yourself in the present time, living what Liz was living. I highly recommend it.” – Maggie Thom, The Write to Read
4 out of 4 Stars “… a compelling, multifaceted book. It captured my attention from beginning to the end.” – OnlineBookClub.org
AVAILABLE ON AMAZON
In June of 1930 Al Capone and several of his men check in to the out-of-the-way Blanche Hotel in Lake City Florida and stay for almost two weeks. There is almost no mention of the stay or what they did there for that long. In 2011, Liz Reams, researcher of American Crime and new professor comes across this tidbit of information about her favorite bad boy for a new class syllabus she is working on. Liz dives into the research, but can't find much information about Capone at the time. Instead, she finds a series of crimes involving the KKK, the newspaper editor and the Sheriff that rocked Lake City during the same time as Capone's stay. The story of one boy, Zeke, has Liz especially interested. However, she can't seem to find any evidence of Capone's involvement; and while Liz is immersed in her studies of the past, her present also seems to be falling apart.
I was hooked on this story from the introduction, where boys Zeke and Jack watch a body go down a sinkhole and sets off a chain of events that will change their lives. Capone is a historical figure that we all know. His violent reign has always been viewed with a surrounding glamour. Liz's character reflects this feeling as well and Liz often looks for a bad boy in her personal life as well. Through her research, we are shown the greater impact of Capone's actions as his presence changes the lives of innocent residents of Lake City. The historical characters served as a lens for the time period. Meg, who worked at the Blanche, Jack and Zeke, kids who witnessed the crimes, DeWitt, the officer who uncovered the crimes and Jack and Zeke's fathers displayed the wide range of consequences for an era filled with instability, hate and uncertainty. The writing made me feel very attached to these characters and made the transition between time periods easy as each chapter hopped between the 1930's and 2000's. Short chapters and the suspense of Capone's involvement made this book fly by. Overall, a fun, fast-paced historical crime novel.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
have been in love with the past for as long as I can remember. Anything with a history, whether shabby or majestic, recent or ancient, instantly draws me in. I suppose it comes from being part of a large extended family that spanned several generations. Long summer afternoons on my grandmother’s porch or winter evenings gathered around her fireplace were filled with stories both entertaining and poignant. Of course being set in the South, those stories were also peopled by some very interesting characters, some of whom have found their way into my work.
As for my venture in writing, it has allowed me to reinvent myself. We humans are truly multifaceted creatures, but unfortunately we tend to sort and categorize each other into neat, easily understood packages that rarely reveal the whole person. Perhaps you, too, want to step out of the box in which you find yourself. I encourage you to look at the possibilities and imagine. Be filled with childlike wonder in your mental wanderings. Envision what might be, not simply what is. Let us never forget, all good fiction begins when someone says to herself or himself, “Let’s pretend.”
I currently reside in the Houston area with my sweet husband and a German Shorthaired Pointer who thinks she’s a little girl.
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