Reflections on Writing Dirty Business

I was working as a prison chaplain in Raleigh, North Carolina, in the late 1970s when news first broke about a mysterious illness affecting both humans and livestock in the rural counties east of Raleigh. It affected the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands of people–not only at the time–but to this day. It turned out to be one of the largest deliberate spills of toxic waste in US history. ( Unsurprisingly, it was all about money (read: greed) and callous disregard for harm done to humans, animals and the food chain, on the part of Robert Ward of Transformer Sales Company, by not paying for proper disposal of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs).

I’ve often been accused of having an over-developed sense of justice or fair play. Guilty as charged. This novel, along with my others, contains a healthy dose of just deserts which I, as the author, get to dispense to certain characters. This does not mean that every antagonist in this, or my other books, receives his or her just punishment (I am a realist, after all), but I manage to work out, to my satisfaction, the ends that most decent people would like to see in real life.

As this book comes to print, many of us are focussed on the unconscionable and unprovoked attack by Putin’s Russia on the Ukraine. As is too often the case in this life, it is the innocent who bear the brunt of another person’s or nation’s lust for power and possession. Except in degree, I see no difference between Putin’s aggression against his neighbours and Ward’s hiring the trucking firm of Robert Burns and sons to dump highly toxic waste along hundreds of miles of roadsides, polluting land and water–and ultimately all life which depended upon both. The actual outcome can be read in the NY Times article in the link above. However, my artistic licence in Dirty Business takes you on a journey of deceit, intrigue, murder and discovery. I hope you will enjoy it.

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