Saturday, February 06, 2010
New Books" The Traitor In Us All by Robert S. Levinson
From Robert S. Levinson:
That's how Dan Boone closes a letter to Jack Sothern in THE TRAITOR IN US ALL.
Boone is a failed American entertainer who settled behind the Iron Curtain in the years before the Berlin Wall came down and achieved the success that had eluded him at home, fame and glory far beyond his wildest hopes and dreams.
Sothern is the down-at-the heels journalist he turns to for help when he makes a dangerous decision to return stateside, hopefully cast off his reputation as the notorious "Turncoat Rebel" and sustain his stardom in the country of his birth.
That's how the inspiration for the character of Dan Boone closed a note to me after returning to East Berlin following a hurried, closely watched visit to Hollywood.
I was still engaged in show business marketing and talent management at the time. He'd been referred to me by a mutual friend, with the hope I'd take him on as a client.
He was a charming fellow, entirely upbeat, candid about his past, a smile as genuine as the ego that drove him, fully optimistic about the future he believed we might achieve together, but—
It didn't work out that way.
He went back to wowing 'em in the communist countries, starring in movies and as a recording and concert artist packing auditoriums and stadiums, an Order of Lenin recipient unable to step out in public without hundreds upon hundreds of fans tracking after him for photos, autographs, handshakes and hugs.
It wasn't until I got into the novel writing racket that I recognized him as fodder for a character in a story I might one day write. That day came after I moved from doing four Neil Gulliver and Stevie Marriner "Affair" books and the three earlier standalones that freed me stretch and grow as a storyteller.
As a story began taking shape in my mind, I realized the character I was calling "Dan Boone" was the catalyst for action that moved between East Berlin under Russian domination twenty years ago and present day Southern California, but not necessarily the hero of the narrative.
That would be Jack Sothern's role.
Sothern would link two brutal murders and the kidnapping of a teenage girl first to Boone, through Boone's ex-wife, then to a secret diary kept by the late Erich Mielke, sadistic head of East Germany's dreaded Stasi, the Ministry of State Security.
The villain's role would be filled by a pair of one-time government operatives in East Berlin, who are determined to find and possess Mielke's diary no matter what cost, in order to reap the potential millions of dollars the diary could bring in a bidding war among countries.
I was off and running with a story where complications multiplied as deals were struck, treachery substituted for the truth, and the body count rose in a non-stop series of character revelations that seemed to suggest there's a little bit of traitor in us all, if not to our country, at one time or another, however minuscule the lie, to our beliefs, our loved ones, our friends, our business associates; casual acquaintances; a cause.
Think about it.