Book Reviews: 'Lou's Dirty Dozen' and 'The Whole Truth'

By Terry Mathews - News-Telegram Arts Editor

Lou's Dirty Dozen

By Lanny Grady
O'Grady Publishing. $19.50. Paperback.
384 pp. November 2007

Preacher turned self-published author Lanny Grady says of his writing skills, "I may not be a great writer, but I am a very good storyteller."

In today's digital world, most anyone can publish a book if they have enough cash on hand. For the most part, these books are exercises in terror, at least for the reader. Since the firms who publish anything for a buck don't employ in-house editors, the books they release aren't usually organized, nor are their characters very well developed.

While it's true that "Lou's Dirty Dozen" could have been a bit more polished had it been released by Doubleday or Putnam, I fear that a big city editor might have red-lined all the charm out of Grady's work.

"Lou's Dirty Dozen" is actually the fiction-based-on-fact story of Grady's mother, Lula Jane Crandal, who finds herself a a widow with 12 young 'uns to raise during the Great Depression.

Grady said he first heard the stories while on a long car trip with his mother near the end of her life.

"My mother never spoke much about her family," Grady said. "So, the stories that unfolded from her heart just about shook me to the core. I told her that one day I was going to write a book for all the world to read."

After Lou's brutal husband is killed in a tornado, she uses the life insurance money to buy a house "free and clear" and sets about to create a new life for herself and her children in the small town of Tampa, Kan.

Although the book is classified fiction, Grady honored the promise to his mother with a collection of stories that are at once both tough and tender.

The book would make a great Mother's Day gift. It's available through Grady's website:

The Whole Truth

By David Baldacci
Grand Central Publishing.
$26.99. 416 pp.
April 22, 2008

If you were a fan of Robert Ludlum, the late, great espionage writer, there's reason to cheer. Even though the Cold War days are over, there are still a bevy of bad guys out there - and this time they don't have turbans on their heads.

David Baldacci's "The Whole Truth" will make you sit back and take a long look at who's really running the show and who's reporting the news these days.

Gazllionaire Nicholas Creel (even his name sounds smarmy), the world's largest defense contractor, doesn't like the way things are going. Russia's been too quiet and China's not currently mad at anyone. He pays a "perception management" team to stir the pot, with violent and fatal results.

In the middle of the action is Katie James, a journalist whose dependency on alcohol has landed her at the obit desk of her newspaper. After covering the funeral of a Scottish hero, James lands in the middle of what she thinks is an international drug smuggling ring. A chance encounter with Shaw (no first name) pulls James into the biggest story of her life, if she can live to tell the tale.

While you'll need to suspend your attachment to reality and there are times the writing goes stale, with "The Whole Truth," Baldacci has established himself as a big man on campus when it comes to political terrorism.

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