Powerboat Racer: Thomas Hollyday
Walker John Douglas allegedly killed two women and burned down an entire town. But, did he? Walker John Douglas let a piece of his boat, Black Duck as evidence that he might have drown or somehow got away. Walker John’s body was never found and years later when a group of teens come across part of his racing boat, one reporter would find himself embroiled in more than just finding out the truth about Walker John, the fires that were set and hopefully get a story that will set this town on a different path. Harry Jacobsen is the editor of the small town weekly paper in a town called River Sunday. Fired from his job and leaving New York her decides to move to Maryland.
When part of Walker John’s racing boat comes to the surface fuel for more than just another burning inferno has been lit. A town divided for so long between black and white. Dissention, racial tension, prejudice and several viewpoints as to what really happened in August of 1968 when Walker John took a can of gasoline and set fire to an entire town burning down not only the town but the home of two innocent women.
Harry is an investigative reporter and with the help of his managing editor, Annie that hopes to go back in time and create what they hope is a story that just might bring this town together. But, someone does not want Harry to continue and many opinions are cast as Sheriff Good and his Park Ranger take the evidence from the past, relate it to the present, speak with reporters and reopen the case. But, Harry seems to have ignited fires more powerful than the one Walker is accused of setting as he begins to question members of the town about it. Sides are drawn, information comes to light and the guilt or innocence of a man comes into question. Walker created jobs for many of the kids in town like The Senator, Billy, Catch and others that worked along side him just to be part of his crew. Walker’s Patrol was special and at times those involved saved lives. But, when the piece of the Black Duck comes to light and the deaths of two women are in the forefront Harry’s questions seems to rile up River Sunday as threats are made, warnings are given and sending Harry on a quest to learn the hidden truth.
While the Sheriff seems to want to investigate and learn the truth our disgraced reporter reveals the truth about why he was fired. Listening to him tell the story to Annie, his editor, the reader realizes that sometimes difficult decisions might cost you but in the long run you just might gain. Walker John Douglas was a black captain and his boat supposedly crashed killing two women and burning down half the town. A town divided and filled with hate, prejudice and racial tension that now in the present is still not that different. A front-page story about Walker and finding the Black Duck causes a great stir and once again will divide the small town. With the regatta just around the corner, the Sheriff wheeling the chair of the woman whose son it was named for, things start to spiral out of control. Tourists in town to see the boat races, the times still highly volatile, the sixties where leaders like Dr. King and JFK stood for equality for all, emotions run high and decades later after this fire people begin to think that Walker John or is ghost is haunting the town. Meet Lulu, Francine her sister the stripper, Peggy, Weejay his nephew each telling his own story.
River Sunday, Maryland where the story begins and a murder warrant was issued for Walker John Douglas as the main suspect in the murder of two white women. Thought to have escaped on his speedboat, The Black Duck, presumed dead, this man remained elusive and a ghost, which haunted this town for over 30 years. When Harry digs deeper he inflames those who would rather have the whole incident left in the past and not brought to light. But, something about the events that happened and the fact that his body was never found made Harry want to right a wrong. The Terment family owned the entire town and was thought to have had something to do with the fire. As you read the author’s account of the events told in graphic detail on pages 34-37 the reader is left to decide guilt or innocence. A Senator who owed his life to Walker John, Catch the man who owned the repair shop, Charleston Crow the lawyer who would find a way to get the truth to come out and Walker’s family living their lives not knowing what really happened and why and a Sheriff whose secrets if divulged would change it for everyone.
Lies, fear, blackmail, deceit, loyalties, friendships and hope are just some of the issues that the author brings to light in this novel that could only take place in the 60’s where racial tensions were often high, prejudice was a common as having a cup of black coffee without the cream and people struggled to make a living and just get by. Racial problems, civil rights, freedom and a Pastor and Preacher on opposite sides hoping to get the crowds to sway in their directions. A fire in a place called the General Store, which provided a place for those who had specific skills to help local citizens.
Henry Terment, William Elliot, Everett Tolchester and Senator Thomas Fair: just what was their connection to the General Store and to Walker John Douglas? Why did President Johnson present him with an award? Why did so many respect and revere him and who did so many young people just want to be a part of Walker’s Patrol? Told in a small town but could be told anywhere where people are narrow minded, need to focus on harmony and getting along, River Sunday sets the bar for lessons that need to learned as a surprise twist is added and Walker’s story is finally revealed but who tells it you just won’t believe? A town divided story of power, greed and money that will keep you glued to the printed page as it did this reviewer, from start to finish until you learn the startling and shocking truth. Walker John Douglas: Guilty or Not Guilty? You decide for yourself after hearing the facts! Take a trip back in time and visit River Sunday in the 1960’s and meet Harry Jacobsen, read the Nanticoke Times and learn the truth. One boat that never got a chance to be raced and one man who deserved more than he got! Assumed guilty but was he? River Sunday: Join the festivities as the boats hit the water, the race begins and the finish line is crossed. Author Thomas Hollyday brings us inside the minds of people who need to embrace the differences that they possess, learn to put the past aside and open their eyes to the truth. Powerboat Racer: Walker John Douglas: Will he ever cross the finish line? If So How?
Fran Lewis: Reviewer