The Authors Collection: A writer never outruns the images that may someday trigger a novel.

Jewish families rounded up during the Night of Broken Glass, the setting for Secrets of the Dead.
Jewish families rounded up during the Night of Broken Glass, the setting for Secrets of the Dead.

I WAS FAR REMOVED from World War II by time and distance.

Hitler and the Gestapo were cutting a wicked swath through Europe.

I was tucked away in Oglesby, Texas.

I had a good reason for being there.

That’s where the bomb plant was located, and my father made bombs.

He tried to enlist.

The Army didn’t want him.

Make bombs, they said.

Caleb Pirtle III
Caleb Pirtle III

He and his men assembled the bombs, loaded them up with whatever went boom, and wrote hand-scrawled messages to the German and Japanese armies.

Simple words really.

Most had four letters.

I was a little guy but knew there was a war going on and had no idea what war was all about.

I learned.

And I never forgot.

At least once a week they were herd all of the employees and their families into a makeshift little theater, turned out the lights, left us in total darkness, and fired up some propaganda films to show us the tragedies and atrocities taking place across Europe and the isles of the Pacific.

I saw women beaten.

I saw children starving.

I saw men buried alive.

It made quite an impression.

I was only three years old at the time, but I can still close my eyes, either day or night, and see the images as vividly now as I did then. The man screaming and kicking the sides of the buried crate was the stuff of nightmares.

I had them then.

I write about them now.

Perhaps that is one reason I began my Ambrose Lincoln thriller series about the dark days leading up to and during World War II.

I knew who the bad guys were.

They had faces.

And names.

And theirs were the faces of evil.

SecretsOfTheDead-3dLeft-261X320I only hoped that I could capture the fears and the horror of it all in Secrets of the Dead and Conspiracy of Lies, the first two books in the series.

Here is what one reader thought. It’s a review by Judy Walnoha. And I am honored that she took the time to read Secrets of the Dead.

She wrote:

“This is a novel that should not remain a secret. Secrets of the Dead, is not about vampires. The setting of the story, the beginning of World War II was a deadlier and more dangerous time than any vampire roaming the night. While reading I thought about how grateful I am to be alive today, not living during the late 1930’s to the mid 1940’s.

“Historians, Retired Military Personnel, Political leaders and the people from many countries all over the world, have written volumes about life and death during the war. Students are required to study the history of our country and in today’s global world; most students have studied the effects of WWII, the cost of human lives. This book, this story tells of tragedies before the official war began.

“Many of us have ancestors who were directly or indirectly involved in the war. My family has picture albums of my father as a soldier along with his army comrades from WWII, posing alive and well. Many were lucky to return home and lived a full life, dying from natural causes, not war. Textbooks for young students filter out many monstrosities of war committed by men to other men, this adult story tells of them.

“Caleb Pirtle’s novel excellently describes a time period when information was not readily available, a time without instant communication, without cell phone pictures and internet. Many untruths and many secrets from one country to the next, coded messages, if found went directly to the grave. Many characters in the novel never get the opportunity to speak, at least not speak aloud.

“The story tells of people dying from acts of unknown soldiers wearing brown shirts, following directions for unknown reasons, given orders by unknown people, all participating in a world made insane by money, power, and country. The main story took place at the beginning of the war, before the history books were written, before the good guys were identified as good or bad, before the dead had a chance to speak.

“The novel contains many characters, the war contained many characters, and too many dead characters, too many lives lost. Young people dying years before their natural lifespan is not and should not be inflicted by others. In today’s hospice settings, there is nothing good about death. I know from firsthand experience why we pray for family and friends.

“To history buffs, I highly recommend this novel. Readers will find the scenes descriptive especially the winter snow covering the horrors of war, as if there could be anything to cover the horrors of war, but snow does melt.  I could visually place myself in the alley hiding from the Germans, holding my breath in the cold, grateful that I lived another day. Descriptive scenes in this story make for an excellent movie. The novel was an appropriate length, not as long as the war. Hopefully history will not repeat itself.

“Maybe if we all read and learn more, our future generations will read about a kinder and gentler history.

“I recommend this novel as I was intrigued and educated at the same time.”

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