It’s 1909, and Teddy Roosevelt is not only hunting in Africa, he’s being hunted. The safari is a time of discovery, both personal and political. In Africa, Roosevelt encounters Sudanese slave traders, Belgian colonial atrocities, and German preparations for war. He reconnects with a childhood sweetheart, Maggie, now a globe-trotting newspaper reporter sent by William Randolph Hearst to chronicle safari adventures and uncover the former president’s future political plans. But James Pierpont Morgan, the most powerful private citizen of his era, wants Roosevelt out of politics permanently. Afraid that the trust-busting president’s return to power will be disastrous for American business, he plants a killer on the safari staff to arrange a fatal accident. Roosevelt narrowly escapes the killer’s traps while leading two hundred and sixty-four men on foot through the savannas, jungles, and semi-deserts of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Congo, and Sudan.
About the Author
James A. Ross has at various times been a Peace Corps Volunteer, a CBS News Producer in the Congo, a Congressional Staffer and a Wall Street Lawyer. His short fiction has appeared in numerous literary publications and his short story, Aux Secours, was nominated for a Pushcart prize. His debut historical novel, HUNTING TEDDY ROOSEVELT won the Independent Press Distinguished Favorite Award for historical fiction, and was shortlisted for the Goethe Historical Fiction Award. His debut mystery/thriller, COLDWATER REVENGE, launched in April 2021 and is available wherever books are sold. Ross’s on-line stories and live performances can be found at: https://jamesrossauthor.com.
COLDWATER REVENGE is the story of two brothers involved with the same
woman, and the ensuing crisis when one brother begins to suspect the other
of helping her cover up a murder.
Billy Pearce was still alive, though neither he nor his killer knew it. The plunge into the icy darkness of Coldwater Lake brought Billy back to consciousness, but not awareness. His body filled the narrow sleeping bag. Cement blocks at his feet ensured that it found bottom and stayed there. Where his face filled the opening at the top of the bag, strobes of sparkling moonlight made prisms of the bubbles that could well be his last mortal breath. But Billy didn’t think about that. His mind was somewhere else. This had happened to him before, a long time ago, and his mind went back there now.
When Billy was thirteen, he’d decided to break into a golf course clubhouse on the far side of Wilson Cove to steal liquor that he’d heard had been left in the basement storeroom over the winter. Temperatures had been unseasonably warm for most of the month. But Billy had decided to chance the walk across the late winter ice, rather than risk being spotted along the
lake road at an hour when boys his age were presumed to be in school.
The frozen ice crackled and popped beneath his feet like a bowl of breakfast cereal. Billy imagined the party he would have with the liquor he was going to steal. And while he busied himself with a short mental list of who he could invite that would not rat him out, the snap, crackle pop went WHOOSH! and he plunged like a clown through a trap door into the freezing lake. In an instant, his heavy winter jacket sponged its weight in brain-numbing ice water, boots filled like pails and the whole soggy weight of it dragged him rapidly toward bottom.
But Billy didn’t panic. His egghead family may have thought him deficient because of his constant troubles in school and his indifference to books, but Billy was brighter than they knew, and a childhood of disapproval had made him stoic and unflappable.
As his body drifted toward bottom, Billy methodically removed everything that was weighing him down: jacket, boots, shirt and trousers—everything but underwear. That done, he looked for the halo of light that would mark the spot where his fall had punched a temporary hole in the rotting ice. When he found it, and before his breath could give out or his mind succumb
to the numbing cold, Billy had kicked and clawed his slim, nearly naked body through the hole and onto the ice.
Now, on a starless October night a dozen years later, his mind went back to that time where his body knew what to do and his brain was confident that everything would be all right if he just didn’t panic. Inside the sleeping bag, his hands methodically removed a coat that was not really there, kicked off a pair of heavy boots that were not there either and lastly slipped-off the
trousers that were. Then, as his face turned to find the wall of white where memory told him a patch of brighter white would guide him to a hole he must find and climb through if he were to survive, he abruptly ceased to remember, or to think at all. Because this time, Billy Pearce was dead.
About the Author
James A. Ross has at various times been a Peace Corps Volunteer, a CBS News
Producer in the Congo, a Congressional Staffer and a Wall Street Lawyer. His
short fiction has appeared in numerous literary publications and his short
story, Aux Secours, was recently nominated for a Pushcart prize.
COLDWATER REVENGE is the story of two brothers involved with the same woman, and the ensuing crisis when one brother begins to suspect the other of helping her cover up a murder.
The tiny voice that sometimes appears when you’re about to do something stupid, hissed at Tom to be thankful, sit still and keep his mouth shut. Instead, he braced himself on the underwater rock, gathered breath and shouted.
“Yo!” His throat was raw and his lungs shredded, but he continued to bellow. “Eat shit and die, asshole!” Tom struggled to his feet and staggered noisily through the shin-deep shallows. The spotlight from the patrol boat leapt toward the sound. As the boat drew nearer, he dropped and rolled to his back, as if he were afloat in deep water. The twin Sea Witch outboards roared and the thirty-foot cruiser leapt through a cone of halogen light. Tom lifted his one good arm and waved. The battered cruiser hydroplaned erratically through the water like a wounded shark. The bow-mounted spotlight bounced above and around its target, losing and then finding it again. Tom could see the man’s face in the halo of light—cadaverous and grim. He could see his eyes, mad and murderous. The little voice screamed at Tom to be quiet and lie still. He crouched in the shallow water, extended his arm and raised a finger.
About The Author
James A. Ross has at various times been a Peace Corps Volunteer, a CBS News Producer in the Congo, a Congressional Staffer and a Wall Street Lawyer. His short fiction has appeared in numerous literary publications and his short story, Aux Secours, was recently nominated for a Pushcart prize.