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42
NOVEMBER 2012
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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
Cooper’s Promise: A Novel
Timothy Jay Smith, Owl Canyon Press,
2012, $16.95, paperback, 228 pages.
Cooper Chance, an army sharpshooter
and deserter, is recruited to fght in an
African country tormented by civil war.
Tough Cooper is a stoic and hard-
fghting soldier, the “gritty world of thugs,
prostitutes and corrupt cops” has left him
yearning for one thing: home. Te catch is that imprisonment
awaits him there, and his acute claustrophobia makes that an
impossible choice.
So he bides his time, trading diamonds to survive, and has
a love afair with a deceitful young merchant. Following the
discovery of huge oil reserves, the CIA ofers Cooper a way home
without jail time if he undertakes a risky, high-stakes mission. He
balks, but then the teenage prostitute he has promised to save is
trafcked and disappears. Hoping to rescue her, Cooper agrees to
the mission, which he carries out with unexpected consequences.
An author and screenwriter, Smith is no stranger to the world
of Cooper Chance. He has traveled extensively, encountering
everyone from Polish cops to arms dealers and child prostitutes.
Among his many adventures, he managed to land himself in an
African jail by stowing away aboard a “devil’s barge” for three
days.
Timothy Jay Smith resides in Paris with his partner of 30 years,
a former Foreign Service Reserve ofcer and retired Peace Corps
chief fnancial ofcer. Smith’s screenplay for
Cooper’s Promise
is currently under consideration by an Oscar-winning British
producer.
Black Orchid Blues
Persia Walker, Akashik, 2011, $15.95/
paperback, 270 pages; $8.95/
Kindle Edition.
Harlem in the 1920s comes alive in
Persia Walker’s Nero Award-nominated
murder mystery,
Black Orchid Blues
.
Young society columnist Lanie Price wit-
nesses the violent kidnapping of a sensu-
ous 6’3” chanteuse, “Black Orchid,” then is thrust into the confict
herself by a grisly surprise on her doorstep. Te temperature rises
as the death count increases; Lanie butts heads with her editor,
and the kidnapper’s motives grow increasingly bizarre.
A motley crew of fnely developed characters spices up the
sophisticated plotline, and both fourish in Walker’s vision of the
era and Harlem’s gay underworld. Te richly construed setting
is part of the magic.
Publisher’s Weekly
calls the feisty Lanie a
brilliant heroine in this “dark, sexy” novel, careening around plot
twists and turns with style.
First a journalist, now an author and diplomat, Persia Walker
is a New York native. She received a scholarship to Swarthmore
College at 16 and attained her master’s degree in journalism at
Columbia University. She joined the Foreign Service in 2011 and
is now posted in Saõ Paulo. She has written two other novels,
Harlem Redux
(Blood Vintage Press, 2011) and
Darkness and the
Devil Behind Me
(Blood Vintage Press, 2008). Her short story,
“Such a Lucky, Pretty Girl,” is featured in the collection,
Te Blue
Religion
(Back Bay Books, 2008).
The Wind Will Yet Sing
Gordon Young, Xlibris, 2011, $19.99,
paperback, 249 pages.
Te Wind Will Yet Sing
is a fctionalized
account of the Ku-lao Lahu tribe who
inhabit the remote mountain jungles of
northernTailand. Te year is 1932, and
the tribe’s peaceful life has been shattered.
Teir existence threatened by outside
aggressors, the tribe is forced to defend itself and its ancestral
traditions.
Te story is based on true events in the lives of these mysteri-
ous people, virtually untouched by modernity. Te people and
their beliefs, conversation, humor, reasoning and way of life are
all portrayed authentically by Gordon Young, the son of mission-
ary parents who lived in the China-Burma border region. Young
brings the images and sounds of the mountain landscape alive,
as well.
Tis is a beautifully written story about a secluded, artful and
intelligent people, who constantly migrate through the moun-
tains to preserve their faith, ancestral heritage, hunting tech-
niques and morals—and, above all, their “peace and freedom.”
Born to Baptist missionary parents in Banna, China, in 1927,
Gordon Young had the unique opportunity to hunt with the
Lahu-Na tribal boys at the age of 10, learning their ways, their
hunting methods and their language. Tis novel is based on that
experience. Young is a retired FSO with USAID. He has also pub-
lished a biography of a Lahu tribesma
n (see p. 27) a
nd a memoir
(see p. 39).