by David Marlett
on Tour July 1 – August 31, 2019
In American Red, as the Great American Century begins, and the modern world roars to life, Capitalists flaunt greed and seize power, Socialists and labor unions flex their violent will, and an extraordinary true story of love and sacrifice unfolds.
In his critically acclaimed debut novel, Fortunate Son, David Marlett introduced readers to a fresh take on historical fiction-the historical legal thriller-bringing alive the people and events leading to and surrounding some of the most momentous, dramatic legal trials in history. Now he returns with American Red, the story of one of the greatest domestic terrorists in American history, and the detectives, lawyers, spies, and lovers who brought him down.
The men and women of American Red are among the most fascinating in American history. When, at the dawn of the 20th century, the Idaho governor is assassinated, blame falls on “Big Bill” Haywood, the all-powerful, one-eyed boss of the Western Federation of Miners in Denver. Close by, his polio-crippled wife, Neva, struggles with her wavering faith, her love for another man, and her sister’s affair with her husband. New technologies accelerate American life, but justice lags behind. Private detectives, battling socialists and unions on behalf of wealthy capitalists, will do whatever it takes to see Haywood hanged. The scene is set for bloodshed, from Denver to Boise to San Francisco. America’s most famous attorney, Clarence Darrow, leads the defense-a philandering U.S. senator leads the prosecution-while the press, gunhands, and spies pour in. Among them are two idealists, Jack Garrett and Carla Capone-he a spy for the prosecution, she for the defense. Risking all, they discover truths about their employers, about themselves and each other, and what they’ll sacrifice for justice and honor-and for love.
Read an excerpt:
I see historical fiction (the way I write it) as impressionism: hugging close to realism—but interpretive just beyond novelized non-fiction. It is in the looseness of the impressionistic brush stroke that I take license to invent characters, to imagine dialogue, to fill in blanks in the historical record—to have a perspective. And that serves my interest in illumining the duplicity of humanity—that cohabitation of good and evil, empathy and selfishness, that inhabits us all. I enjoy exploring the forces that lead people into dark places, and those that conversely lead them to do great acts of heroism. And I have a fascination with friendship, the bonds that pull us together, and how those bonds can become stretched, frayed, broken and reformed. And on top of it all, I am exploring love…in its many hues and manifestations.
Writing about the human experience, I am most interested in what I call the “historical legal thriller”—stories set in and around extraordinary trials that have become lost to history (for the most part). My first novel, Fortunate Son, is set in Ireland, England, Scotland and the American Colonies in the early 1700s, leading to the largest and most expensive (relatively) civil trial in UK history, Annesley v Anglesea, in Dublin, 1743. But that is not the core of it, but rather it is the characters that fascinated me, what they endured… the challenges…the loves and the losses. American Red certainly follows that genre, with its gravitational plot-center being the 1907 murder trial of William “Big Bill” Haywood. But it is about so much more than that, which I’ll expound upon. (My next novel…currently in the works…Angeles Los, also centers on a trial, while it tells the true story at the intersection of the first movies made in Los Angeles, the murderous bombing of the Los Angeles Times, and eccentric Abbot Kinney’s “Venice of America” kingdom.)
All novelists hope their readers (steadfast ones and new ones alike) enjoy their latest novel—and I certainly hope the same for American Red. That is first and foremost. In addition, I hope many will consider the undertones within the story of American Red. Its theme about conflicts of the soul begins on the cover: a cardinal in battle with itself. A stand-in for the swirling conflict between two factions of Americans, the polarization at the time between Capitalism and Socialism, the worker and the owner, between the Wild West and the march of civilianization, and perhaps most importantly the war between the good and evil in us all. All the while, perhaps the most vexing characteristic is that those polarities appear to be housed in an identical body, wingtips locked in battle with itself. The entanglements within American Red are not just between right and wrong, but in our perceptions of ourselves and our place and purpose in the world—and our willingness to sacrifice for the betterment of others. Sure, most will read American Red simply for the story that it is—and that is terrific. But perhaps a few will dig deeper, beginning with the Overture, joining an expedition into the complex tapestry of humanity—and maybe therein discover themselves.
David Marlett is an award-winning storyteller and writer of historical fiction, primarily historical legal thrillers bringing alive the fascinating people and events leading to major historical trials. His first such novel, Fortunate Son, became a national bestseller in 2014, rising to #2 in all historical fiction and #3 in all literature and fiction on Amazon. The late Vincent Bugliosi — #1 New York Times bestselling author of Helter Skelter — said David is “a masterful writer of historical fact and detail, of adventure, peril and courtroom drama.” Just released is American Red which follows the extraordinary true story of a set of radical lovers, lawyers, killers, and spies who launched the Great American Century. Visit www.AmericanRedBook.com. He is currently writing his next historical legal thriller, Angeles Los, which continues some of the lead characters from American Red. Angeles Los is based on the true story at the 1910 intersection of the first movies made in Los Angeles, the murderous bombing of the Los Angeles Times, and eccentric Abbot Kinney’s “Venice of America” kingdom. In addition, David is a professor at Pepperdine Law School, was the managing editor of OMNI Magazine, and guest-lectures on story design. He is a graduate of The University of Texas School of Law, the father of four, and lives in Manhattan Beach, California. For more, visit www.DavidMarlett.com.
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