Stereotyping people because of race nationality color or gender preface is not something foreign to the public. Incidents of racial violence or attacks are broadcasted throughout the world. The media at times sensationalizes it and stirs up the public creating unnecessary hype and fear. How many times have you walked the streets of Manhattan and realized that so many people of so many countries make up the workforce and communities we live in? Are you afraid? What about our schools should we change the books and the curriculum and make it more religious or Christian? The focus of the novel Shady Park Panic revolves around a Board of Education meeting dealing with curriculum changes and hoping to the support of those at this closed meeting. But, somehow it turned ugly and violent and a teacher was shot, a Muslim woman arrested another young man accused of pulling the trigger and chaos ensued.
Anthony Mansfield is a reporter with the Shady Park Ledger who attended this meeting and got the events on paper and on his phone. Hoping that his story would hit the next edition he called the editor only to tell by the publisher it was not going in. At the meeting tensions rose and one woman who is Muslim spoke out and then a shot was fired. The head of the riverside project has a stake in this issue as publishing the books in question connects them. But, when Beatrice Doggit the newest member of the Board of Education gets up and county executive MAUREEN is running for re-election is present, they thought things would go their way but someone decided differently. Shahnaz gets up to speak and talk about immigration and history books and how what is written confused her son, the statement made next ignited and fueled the events that followed.
The publisher does not want any negative stories about riverside and their dealings since they support the paper. Anthony at this point is dating his overbearing and mindless daughter, Victoria who seems to work on stories when it suits her. Things get violent and dangerous when the supported shooter is arrested along with the Muslim woman and threats are made all around.
Victoria is manipulative and uses Anthony for her own purposes until she finds someone else thinking he can boost her career but hidden beneath John Rowland is a snake in handsome armor.
Events spiral out of control as Anthony’s informant learns information about the sewer line deal to replace septic tanks and Esmeralda the maid gets attacked by Rowland and fired only to find herself work for Victoria’s family. Paris is now learning more about the recently adopted all-right textbooks for the county schools and published by Bea and the pastor’s RES-RECT, which stands to gain monetarily from their adoption. The pastor claims that Esmeralda gave Pari that information for her Searchlight Blog. Esmeralda does not know what a blog is.
Victoria is vindictive when she learns the truth about John and then replacing her on the news she goes with information that is false causing the police to go after Shahnaz and her family. Things gets worse when hen Beatrice makes up a lie about Anthony and the County executive and his running mate for house delegate are win the election. What’s worse is the sewer deal and it looks like his boss is in on it. . Lies, fear, betrayals, racism, hate, vengeance and revenge take center stage.
Bea accuses Anthony of something and charges might be brought as Shahnaz is arrested and an interesting point is made. With the story going into the Shady Ledger and the blog about the textbooks causing some furor, Anthony is hoping Pari will return soon but there is much more discord to come.
Author Rea Keech brings to Light more issues is hate, injustice, freedom to teach children without religious constraints and the issue of insisting teachers be armed. Victoria is relentless and when she realizes that she is no longer reporting on the frontlines and is replaced by someone else, she goes back to thinking that she will now have Anthony, but he has other ideas and a truth behind a story comes to light. Will Pop allow Pari to publish the article on the textbooks and will she be allowed to reveal who really owns Riverside Paradise and the publishing company and what about the ethics code?
The end result is that those involved in the Riverside Paradise and in the book publishing areas will stop at nothing including bribery and blackmail to take away the properties they want in order to build what they feel will yield them profits and destroying anyone or anything in their path is their goal. When Anthony is accused of raping Bea and is set up the end result is members of this group offer him a bribe in order to have the supposed charges dropped with the police and high ranking officials in their back pockets they did not even wait for the sewer project’s approval before forging ahead.
When Emma relates something to Anthony that Esmeralda found things get explosive, lives might be in danger and an untold betrayal comes forth. Just how powerful are politicians that they can push things through, skirt the law and regulations and not be held accountable as these issues are brought to light in this novel by the author.
The final revelations will surprise readers and just how high is the corruption and why won’t Anthony’s connection in the police department follow through on an important lead? Some think they are above the law and the real shooter is revealed but is this person going to pay the price for placing other lives in danger? What about the gun laws and the curriculum? Who survives and who will find themselves out?
The ending reveals who shot the teacher and the end result of what happens to Riverside Paradise and the legislation to pass having teachers armed. This novel brings many controversial issues to light as many cities and states allow citizens to carry weapons whether concealed or not, even the Secretary of Education wants teachers to be armed, just how safe is that? What happens when guns get into the wrong hands? The issue of calling someone a terrorist or bullying a student in school because of where he comes from is wrong in some eyes and right in others. Author Rea Keech gives readers much to think about as the ending lets the reader know there is much more to come for Anthony, Pari and the cast at Shady Ledger. Who will remain standing at the end when the mystery of the Shady Park Panic is solved?
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine/MJ network