An inventive, page turning crime thriller set in an alternate United States during the height of the Red Scare — with shocking parallels to America in the 2020s. USA, 1958. President Joseph McCarthy sits in the White House, elected on a wave of populist xenophobia and barely-concealed antiSemitism. The country is in the firm grip of McCarthy’s Hueys, a secret police force evolved from the House Un-American Activities Committee. Hollywood’s sparkling vision of the American dream has been suppressed; its remaining talents forced to turn out endless anti-communist propaganda. LAPD detective Morris Baker — a Holocaust survivor who drowns his fractured memories of the unspeakable in schnapps and work — is called to the scene of a horrific double-homicide. The victims are John Huston, a once-promising but now forgotten film director, and an up-and-coming young journalist named Walter Cronkite. Clutched in the hand of one of the deadm men is a cryptic note containing the phrase “beat the devils” followed by a single name: Baker. Did the two men die in an attack fueled by better-dead-than-red sentiment, as the Hueys are quick to conclude, or were they murdered in a cover-up designed to protect — or even set in motion — a secret plot connected to Baker’s past? In a country where terror grows stronger by the day, and paranoia rises unchecked, Baker is determined to find justice for two men who raised their voices in a time when free speech comes at the ultimate cost. In the course of his investigation, Baker stumbles into a conspiracy that reaches deep into the halls of power and uncovers a secret that could destroy the City of Angels — and the American ideal itself.
Beat the Devils
September 1, 2021
Courtesy of Josh Weiss
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