Jan and I were very fortunate to have as a dinner guest yesterday evening Diane Brinker who was one of the eight sisters of Kathleen Briles. There were 9 girls and 2 boys. Diane shared a lot of details with us and it was a pure blessing to simply be able to sit and talk with her. In some ways, having conversations with her and others, the people in these stories become family to me as I ride along listening to the fun days and the sad days. It is so sad to me to meet them with all this pain brought about by one person, and the tragedy is that Kathleen would not have died if the FBI had not failed to keep their computer data base up to date. Diane shared photos of her sister and her family with us. It was a wonderful evening but so tragically brought about. It leaves me with a major responsibility to write Nightmare in Terra Ceia with as much sensitivity as I can muster.
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.
They were husband and wife. Best friends. Two who loved each other without question. Her name was Kathleen, Kathy for short. His was Doctor James Briles. He went by Jim.
Kathy spent the last day of her life excited with the prospects of preparing a special dinner for the man she loved. One they would never share. She had gotten her hair done just as it had been on their first date. She had stopped to visit with friends telling them of her plans for the evening.
It was to be a special night. One filled for them with the sense and wonder of simply being in love. But the actions of one man, one monster, turned it into a scene of horror.
Book One is published: Do You Know How to Fly?
You can order it from Barnes and Noble, Amazon has it and also has it in e-book fashion, and I have it on http://www.authorgordonkuhn.com . Order from me and it will arrive with my personal note to you.
So here I sit with the majority of Book Two done and I am procrastinating. Call it what you will, but I just can’t seem to get myself going. I am within reach of being done with Book Two and I just can’t seem to push myself over the edge. Maybe it is a case of fear. Yes, fear.
I have been working on this for 6 1/2 years and to let go of my baby, so to speak, is frightening. Not only that but is it a good book or is it shit? I don’t know. I feel it is a good book but at the same time I am concerned that the author, me, is just delusional. That happens to everyone I think that has created something and who has this ache in their hearts to be looked upon as an artist, relevant for the current times and yet building a legacy for others to look up at and marvel at the work done so far.
So, anyway, I met with retired Sheriff’s Detective Ned Foy who solved the Briles’ murder case and had coffee with him. I gave him a copy of Book One and he said he is excited to read it. He is also looking forward to Book Two.
Now the pressure is on. Actually it had already started this morning at breakfast when Sherry Call Roberts walked up to me and poked me in the stomach asking how close I was to finishing Book Two . Of course she was being playful but the point was simply this: get going and get finished and stop procrastinating. It is easy to fall into that trap. So I am grateful to Sherry and to Ned and to everyone who is bugging the hell out of me to finish the book. It needs to get done.
The other nice thing, and I mean that really, is that Ned told me that he would join the readers I have now and review Book Two. After all, he is the main man on that. It was his case to solve and he did. He can provide me with even more insight than I have now. He’s excited. I’m excited. And, I know that everyone else will be excited too as we all move forward with this. I know I am not alone.
Go to Goodreads.com/giveaway and search out my name and/or the name of the book. The contest is run by Goodreads and not me. They make the winning selection. There are two copies being offered.
This is a true-crime, narrative-nonfiction book. The subject is the criminal acts of Delmer Smith who came to Florida in 2008 to be with the woman who married him sight unseen while he was in Federal Prison for bank robbery. He left her and moved in with a younger woman. Soon after that he returned to his career as a criminal and terrorized two communities before being captured.
He is currently serving a life sentence for a crime committed in Sarasota County and is also on death row for a murder in Manatee County.
Hopefully the link below will take you there but I don’t trust links, computers, watches, cars, dogs with the eyes that are not honest, or people who are overly friendly
<div id=”goodreadsGiveawayWidget213404″><!– Show static html as a placeholder in case js is not enabled –>
The book is out and can be found at Amazon Prime. It is also online at Barnes & Noble. Price is $15 plus shipping ( in some cases). It is also available thru me at $18 which includes shipping and my signature on the inside of the book.
Do You Know How to Fly? is now on Kindle.
This is a true crime book. It took me six years to write this book. Book number two will be out soon in paperback and on Kindle through Amazon.
The book is about a man on death row in Florida. He is a career criminal whose life in crime started as a youth. His first conviction occurred when only 14 for the rape of a woman who was in her 30s at a car wash. He would have murdered his victim but she managed to get away. He later was arrested as an adult at age 18 for home invasion robbery and spent another 18 months in jail.
After that he was arrested for bank robbery and spent 15 1/2 years in prison. Following being married to a woman he had never met, he was granted parole and he came to Florida and continued his life in crime here. He assaulted mainly older women who lived alone. He is a suspect in one murder in Sarasota County and was convicted in another in Manatee County. I spent six years working on two books. The first book is Do You Know How to Fly. The second will be titled: The Woman in a Pink Top.
These books will be available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble and all other book stores. But, Do You Know how to Fly is the first and you can now download through Kindle for $3.00. You can order paperback copies through the locations listed above or by contacting me for an autographed copy.
You may also get an eAutograph on Kindle by requesting it.
I hope you enjoy my books as much as I enjoyed writing them for you.
Best to you,
Well, I’ve just passed 516 pages. I think I will hit 600. It was not, and is not, my intention to have written the book that long. Is simply a fact that in order to cover the material in a fashion I wish to do, it will require a large number of pages. There are two major trials that I’m covering. One results in a life sentence; and the other results in a death sentence. There is a lot of testimony. There are interviews. There is a lot of research. I was told I have five books not one. I’m beginning to believe that.
I simply want the book to reflect the story correctly. Trying to pick out the important details and present them in a logical manner by combining data from all the resources that I have accumulated has been both exciting and frustrating. With each word that I type, with each detail that I reveal, I’m concerned that I could be overdoing or underdoing. Each word written is like stepping off of a cliff and hoping that, instead of falling, I will find sure footing even though I cannot see it before me. Well, I have more to write.
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.
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.”