Fall of an Angel by Billy Leland Review

The Fall of an AngelThe Fall of an Angel by Billy Leland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fall of an Angel by Billy Leland
I love reviewing nonfiction books because there are no spoilers. Almost everyone that knows Billy, knows what happened to Billy. In this book, you will find out why. Billy has a lot to say regarding how law enforcement, lawyers, and the DA can use — and misuse — the guilty’s deposition to persecute and indict a person of “conspiracy.” Compared to the others the DA made deals with after being caught in the act, what made Billy’s case more critical? What crime did he commit than those who were caught in the act and ratted him out did not commit? Was he just a convenient scapegoat who was supposed to lead them to the demise of the Hell’s Angels and other biker clubs in Maine? Or, was he a political stepping stone for some members of the prosecution?
Don’t get me wrong; Billy accepts guilt for what he did wrong. However, nothing ever got proven by the State. In Billy’s case, there was no “smoking gun.” Billy never got caught with any drugs in his possession; there was never a urinalysis that proved Billy was a user, no hard evidence that he was a dealer. Just the testimony of people who were supposedly Billy’s friends and confidants. Most of that testimony is hearsay. He said, she said, which is not admissible!
I wish I had a dollar for everyone that said in their deposition words to the effect of, “Tony told me…” “Missy said…” “Billy was the biggest meth dealer on the East Coast.” Or, the prosecutor leads them in the direction they want them to go or say what he wants the Grand Jury to hear.
What’s more, he was kept in prison for nearly two years without a shred of evidence — denied bail because of his “risk of flight,” even though Maine has always been his home.

Our Friendship
Billy and I were good friends in high school. We were on the swim team together and did some crazy shit. It is a time I will always remember. Lee and Shirley, and Billy’s brothers and sister were like family to me that one year we hung around together before joining the Army under the buddy system.
One thing I learned while reading the book, was that Billy and I both lived on Kellogg Street in Portland, ME. Though, we must have lived in Portland five or more years apart. I lived there when I was 12 or 13, and Billy must have been younger. Another coincidence about that is one of my best friends in Portland, was Paul, a 350-pound lobster fisherman who was a member of the Hell’s Angels. One of the kindest, most gentle people I ever met.
It seems I fought every single day I lived there. Munjoy Hill was a tough neighborhood, and although I was small, I never backed down. Billy and I participated in a few fights in high school too.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent
The only way they even got a confession from Billy was to offer a ten-year sentence and a promise not to arrest his son on similar charges. How is that even legal? Shouldn’t everyone they have evidence of committing a crime get arrested and have their day in court. Evidently not, “guilty until proven innocent” seems more our injustice system’s mantra.
Most of those “friends” who made deals with the prosecution only did it to either get time off or “time served” for their sins didn’t even know Billy personally. Crimes they were caught red-handed committing, some were even sanctioned by law enforcement. How is it OK for law enforcement to allow someone to keep selling drugs, hurting people, selling their bodies, and entrapping others who might not even be a criminal if not for the State’s tampering.

“Conspiracy” the Catch-All
Conspiracy is the term the Federal government uses to put anyone they want in prison, with or without physical evidence. This book is an eye-opener for those who believe in the American “Justice” System. The DA got Billy to plead guilty and accept a 10-year sentence. Instead, he got a 21-year sentence and five years of probation.
You did know that the prosecution can use “hearsay” in a deposition (sworn, written and recorded testimony), particularly when the defense lawyer is not even present. When there is no defense lawyer present, the prosecution can use whatever “coaching” method they need to get the attestor to remember what the DA needs them to remember, true or false does not matter if it supports the State’s case. Who will object? Chances are your worthless lawyer is laughing all the way to the bank with your money and won’t have time to sit through hours of depositions. What can you do?
I’m not trying to rewrite Billy’s book because he did an excellent job of doing that. I am merely trying to convince you it is worth reading and you will enjoy it as I did.

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Recommended Book for January 2019

The Big Bang by Linda Joffe Hull

Winner of the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer of the Year Award

Melody Mountain Ranch is a gated, planned, suburban heaven for everyone but interior decorator Hope Jordan. As Hope struggles through the letdown of several unsuccessful fertility treatments, her cul-de-sac neighbors Will Pierce-Cohn, a stay-at-home dad and community activist; Frank Griffin, a minister–cum–homeowners’ board president; and Tim Trautman, a soon-to-be father of five, jockey for her attention.

When Hope has a few too many cocktails and inadvertently eats hash-laced brownies at the playground ribbon-cutting gala/Memorial Weekend poolside potluck, she falls into the arms of one of her three wannabe paramours. Maybe all three. She wakes up with only fleeting memories of the evening and soon discovers that her dream of getting pregnant has become a crushing reality. With all eyes on her, Hope is forced to watch as the walls holding up her picture-perfect neighborhood begin to crumble.

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Recommended Book – The Reckoning

The Reckoning

My featured book for this month is John Grisham’s The Reckoning. It is historical fiction of 432 pages published by Doubleday. If you liked A Time to Kill and Sycamore Row, you will like The Reckoning as well, though they have nothing to do with each other besides that they are both set, at least in part, in Clanton in Ford County.

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In another trip back to Clanton in Ford County, Mr. Grisham introduces us to Pete Banning, a southern cotton farmer who murders his Methodist preacher shortly after he returns from WWII.

He then works his way backward to Major (battlefield commission) Banning’s participation in the Bataan Death March and his exploits in the Philippines during WWII. The story is quite gripping and graphic.

Featured Book: The Reckoning

It is a saga of war and love; it’s a courtroom drama, a gripping portrayal of the conditions in the south during the WWII period. The dreadfully barbaric treatment of prisoners by the Japanese soldiers. Mr. Grisham shows us what secrets can do to a family. He also gives us a glimpse into the making of a war hero and his unraveling as well.

He will take you on a painful path, a brutal march you can’t or won’t escape from because the only escape is to put the book down, and that is impossible. For it is both illuminating and entertaining.

Although throughout this featured book, you believe you know what’s going on and you have all the answers, you really know nothing. What causes a man, a war hero to kill in cold blood? To dispatch a life as if swatting a fly. What was it that drove him so far away from what was expected of a man so many respected and idolized?

“When a master of storytelling and suspense takes on one of the most wrenching stories in history, the result is a book that will break your heart, set your blood pumping and your mind racing, and leave you gasping for breath by the final page. I’m still trying to recover from The Reckoning.” –Candice Millard, New York Times bestselling author of The River of Doubt and Destiny of the Republic

Buy December’s Featured Book, The Reckoning to Find the Answers!

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A Book Review: How to Write Well, by Michael D. Stover

Do you know what I like about reviewing a How-To book? You don’t have to worry about inadvertently giving away the ending because the reader creates the real ending. The success they enjoy from the knowledge they seize by employing the teachings of the author is the real “Happily ever after.”

Michael produced a tool for writers and editors that I for one will keep on my desk as a handy reference when I am editing what I wrote. Make no mistake, anyone can write well. The real secret is to put your fingers to the keyboard and don’t stop until you have told the story. There is always time to edit later, and Michael’s book will help you do that. My favorite quote from the book is, “Write fearlessly; edit ruthlessly.” Although Kevin Powers receives extensive credit for this concept, I’m sure you have seen it many times, and it bears repeating repeatedly.

I particularly liked the chapter, “Major Wording Blunders.” He begins the chapter with a Bible verse from Proverbs 25:11, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” (KJV) Then, notes that “a word misused is like a train wreck running backward, or the splotched picture of a blocked satellite transmission.” He goes on to give us ten examples, like “irregardless, supposably, and heighth,” and my personal favorite, “all intensive purposes.”

“Grammar Nazis,” what they call people like us on Facebook, will love his chapter on “Flagrant Grammar Mistakes.” Perhaps, if some of those posting on Facebook would read his book, we wouldn’t have to correct their use of loose for lose, or it’s for its. But, there, their, they’re now, it’s all good!

I would encourage everyone, particularly writers, proofreaders, and editors to read this book and keep it as a handy reference on your desktop. As a journalism student and as a journalist, I have read several How-To books about writing, but this is a keeper that ranks right up there with The Little, Brown Handbook and Stephen King’s On Writing. It is a tool I will use often.

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The Rooster Bar Book Review: Crime Action Drama

This is my Rooster Bar Book Review.

Rooster Bar Book Review… As a John Grisham fan, I was eager to read his newest crime action drama, The Rooster Bar. Grisham’s readers often expect a fast-paced story with vivid characters and a plot filled with thrilling twists and turns, and this book does not disappoint. The Rooster Bar is a sharp criticism of today’s educational, financial, and immigration systems. Grisham savages the shady colleges and universities which are far more interested in creating large profits than in enriching the lives of their students. The book also exposes corruption in the student loan industry and the excesses of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The Rooster Bar Book Review Backstory

This crime action drama follows three students at the fictional Foggy Bottom Law School: Mark, Todd, and Zola. They all borrowed heavily (each nearly $200,000) to attend school, and they are struggling in their personal and professional lives. All of them were betting heavily on their earnings as lawyers to pay back their high-interest loans. The schools recruiting videos and TV ads sold them on how easy it was to borrow the money and get a high-paying job in a law firm.
As they progress through law school, they become aware that their school has a low percentage of graduates that pass the bar exam and only a few of those that do get well-paying jobs. They find out that even that was an elaborate hoax, as the mega-millionaire also controlled eight law firms where they would hire a few of the graduates and start them at a high salary, use them in their recruiting ads, and then lower their salaries at annual reviews.

Gordy, a friend of the three main characters and romantically linked to Zola, traces a conspiracy linking Foggy Bottom to a lender in the student loan industry. His suicide leads the three friends to investigate further. The three decide that exposing corruption is more important than receiving tainted law school degrees. They drop out of law school, assume new identities, and set up a fake and unlicensed law firm of their own with the goal of taking down Foggy Bottom and its financial partners.

The plot builds in excitement until this crime action drama provides a thrilling climax. Grisham’s reuse of a plot device from The Firm was one of my few real problems with this book, though some avid Grisham fans could rationalize it as an update to an ongoing problem, which in a way it is.

Rooster Bar Book Review (Immigration Problems)

Grisham manages to make us sympathetic to these underdogs even though their methods are almost as shady as those of the law school they are trying to expose. I especially enjoyed the development of Zola’s character. Born to undocumented parents from Senegal, she becomes heavily involved in the politics of immigration after the deportation of her family members. Zola’s family’s experiences with the immigration system lend urgency to her character.
Other reviewers have criticized Grisham’s last few books for having lost the spark and thrill of his earlier works, but I found that The Rooster Bar was a return to his usual form. The characters came to life for me and were the best part of this crime action drama. Despite the slightly predictable plot twist, this courtroom drama was as engaging as any Grisham novel.
Grisham’s new book The Rooster Bar will not disappoint fans of crime action drama. Although those who have read The Firm might be turned off by the reuse of an older plot device, it’s a small point and after you get into the story, it won’t matter that much. The characters of Mark, Todd, and Zola carry the book and cause the readers to root for them even though they operate outside the law. Well, that’s my Rooster Bar Book Review. If you’re looking for an entertaining legal read, pick up The Rooster Bar and decide for yourself.

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