By James Siegel
Published by Warners Books
August 2006; 0446531863; 384 pages
I am writing this as fast as I can. I am galloping through hostile territory like the Pony Express, because I absolutely must deliver the mail.
I've already taken my fair share of arrows. And though I'm clearly wounded, I'm not dead.
Not yet. I'm trying mightily to remember everything germane. I'm a bit shaky on the timeline, on the cause and effects. On specificity.
I am freely and honestly admitting to this. Just so when all the little editors begin flourishing their red pencils, and they will, I'll have hopefully, if only momentarily, dulled the momentum of their onrushing venom.
I don't blame them. I truly don't. I am, after all, the boy who cried wolf. Who shouted, screamed, and plastered it across two-inch headlines.
Mea culpa. All I can tell you is that what I'm writing in this claustrophobic motel room is the absolute, unvarnished, 100 percent truth.
So help me God. Scout's honor. Cross my heart and hope to die. Change hope to expect. This isn't just my last story. It's my last will and testament. Pay attention. You are my executor.
ONE BRIEF DIGRESSION. Writing my last story, I can't help but remember my first. I was 9.
It was snowing. Not the paltry dusting that generally passed for snow in Queens, New York. No, the sky was actually dumping snow, as if someone had loosened a giant saltshaker top up there. Icicles were being blown off our sagging gutters and straight into the brick walls of the house, where they splintered with the sound of ball meeting bat.
Schools would be closed all week. My brother Jimmy slipped on the ice and he hit his head, I wrote on neatly lined composition paper. He is always falling down and stuff like that. He walked into a door and he got a black eye. Last week he fell down in the tub, and he burnt himself. He is really clumsy and my mom keeps telling him to watch where he's going, but he don't listen. He is only 6.
I brought the story into the kitchen where my mother was slumped over the table, staring into an empty bottle of Johnnie Walker.
"Read it to me," she slurred. After I finished, she said: "Okay, good. I want you to memorize it. They'll be here in an hour."Copyright © 2006 James Siegel
Reprinted with permission.
It looks like just another car crash: a head-on collision on a lonely stretch of desert highway that leaves one driver dead. But Tom Valle, the local newspaperman assigned to the story, is damned good at spotting lies. And for Valle, once a star reporter at America's most prestigious daily, this so-called accident may be just the ticket he needs to resurrect his career and get him out of the aptly named town of Littleton, California, for good.
Yet as Valle eagerly starts investigating, he finds himself the only one who cares about getting the story right. As he starts checking facts, and unveiling lie after lie, he finds himself completely alone-and negotiating a dark trail of corruption, cover-ups, fraud, and murder that stretches back for decades.
The more he discovers, the closer he gets to the heart of a conspiracy that threatens to destroy him. From a seedy after-hours bar in L.A. to a remote cabin in the woods to the dark corridors of a psychiatric ward, Valle is desperately seeking redemption in the truth.
But, as the boy who cried wolf so many times before, will anyone believe him?(back to top)
James Siegel is vice chairman, senior executive creative director and member of the Board of Directors of BBDO New York and is one of the agency's top creative talents. His work includes such accounts as Visa, Frito-Lay (Tostitos), Charles Schwab, Office Depot and Pepsi Twist, where his contributions have played a significant role in enhancing the agency's creative reputation.
Siegel holds a B.A. from the City University of New York. He lives on Long Island in New York.