GOODREADS BOOK GIVEAWAY


Goodreads has a contest running on my book Do You Know How To Fly which is a true crime novel. It is the first of two books about a career criminal who came to the Tampa Bay area after being placed on parole for bank robbery and sentenced to 15 1/2 years in Federal prison.

Shortly after his arrival here he dumped the woman who married him sight unseen while he was in prison and who helped his being released from prison and moved in with a woman much younger. Shortly after that he began a series of robberies, assaults, and home invasions. It ended with his capture after a bar fight but too late for the murder of a local doctor’s wife. Sadly had the FBI’s CODIS program for DNA been up to date he would have been stopped months prior before two local women (one the doctor’s wife) was brutally murdered.

KIRKUS REVIEW OF DO YOU KNOW HOW TO FLY?


KIRKUS REVIEW

Kuhn’s debut true-crime story shows how a violent man’s life led him to death row.

The author uses interviews and other sources to piece together the life of Delmer Smith, a seasoned career criminal awaiting execution in Florida. Smith was born in Detroit in 1971, on the cusp of the city’s economic decline. By age 14, he was convicted of raping a woman at a carwash where he worked. The 18 months that he spent in a juvenile reformatory dashed any possibility of rehabilitation; instead, he learned “how to be more proficient as a criminal” as he became “a creature without a conscience.” As a young adult, Kuhn writes, Smith carried out burglaries, carjackings, and bank robberies, which eventually led to a 15-year incarceration. After his second prison stint, he moved to Florida; there, Kuhn writes, Smith assaulted and beat multiple women—all the while leading a double life as a “wise and loving uncle” to his two nieces. Eventually, the violence led to a murder conviction. The author interviewed many of Smith’s victims and found that the women were now “desperately seeking someone or something to fully trust again.” Thanks to these firsthand accounts, readers receive a nuanced portrait of a predatory man. Kuhn’s decision to jump between accounts of Smith’s early life and present-day interviews is an effective one; by regularly pulling readers back to the present, he reminds them of the painful, enduring impact of his subject’s actions. Moreover, Kuhn shows a great deal of sensitivity when recounting the crimes, evoking deep pathos instead of graphic sensationalism. That said, the book does include some unnecessary background information, including three pages on Smith’s birth alone; it also bafflingly overuses section breaks, which disrupt the otherwise strong narrative flow.

A thoughtful, engaging account of a brutal life and the carnage that it left behind.

PREDATOR: FOUND:ONE


CAUTIONARY NOTE:

The following is about a violent and horrific murder. It is a real story about real people. Parts of this are very graphic. Please have respect for the victims, their families, and their friends.

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PART ONE—Face Down

CHAPTER 1—911 Operator # 143

She lay face down.

At least, that is how they found the body—face down.

They being the hastily-established Manatee County team of sheriff’s deputies, forensic personnel, fire department paramedics, and the county coroner’s office staff that had been called into service on August 3rd, 2009, in the middle of the night. It was their job to descend on the horrifying scene at a residence in a quiet neighborhood in response to her husband’s frantic 911 call.

Manatee County 911, what is the nature of your emergency?

The operator’s voice was calm, well-practiced, having responded thousands of times in the same cool manner during stressful telephone calls as this would soon become.

Caller: (Unintelligible) I just got home, my wife is on the floor!

The voice was breathless, filled with shock and terror.

Three years after the Manatee County 911 system recorded the emotion-filled phone call from a distraught man, the prosecution introduced the tape as evidence in Case No. 2010-CF-000479, The State of Florida vs. Delmer Smith, a murder case.

The Court, jury, and gallery would sit and listen completely absorbed by the conversation being played back for them. While the horror of the night slowly became indelibly evident for everyone else in the room, the defendant appeared indifferent. He spent most of his time looking at the highly-polished wooden conference table-top where he sat, or at his handcuffed hands which were kept low behind the table so the jury could not see them.

He focused on them, turning them over, then right side up. He twisted them one way, then another, carefully examining each hand like a person would checking to see if they might need to wash them. Perhaps, in this case, to remove the invisible stain and erase the scent of his victim’s blood that only he was conscious of.

The act was eerily reminiscent of the scene in Shakespeare’s Macbeth where the Thane of Fife’s wife spoke those incredibly memorable lines, “Out, damned spot! Out, I say! … What! will these hands ne’er be clean? … Here’s the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand.”