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Double Play

Roberto El Rey

Unelected bureaucrat
Location
Reims
#1
I purchased Double Play by Richard Comerford on SLP's ebook store last night, and blew through the entire thing in about 24 hours.

First and foremost, let me extend a hearty bravo to the author! Comerford has created an engaging political thriller that introduces various intricate, interesting mysteries and answers them in a way that only creates more mysteries and leaves the reader begging for more. I only hope he has a presence on this forum so I can ensure that he hears my praise! Here are some fairly non-spoilerific musings on the book:

  • I enjoyed the characterization of Alek James Hidell/Nathan Bedford Forrest Lee. I initially found myself struggling to figure out which one was intended to be the real Lee Harvey Oswald, but then I realized that each character contains elements of "our" LHO: Hiddell went to Russia and took home a bride named Marina, while Lee was born in New Orleans and is as cool as a cucumber. Perhaps the book is implicitly suggesting that "our" LHO never really existed, that he was in fact an amalgamation of two different men whose stories were rolled together for narrative convenience.
  • One part which cracked me up a bit was when RFK asked another character to identify him by his voice. Up until that point, I had been hearing all of RFK's lines in my head in his own voice, and I thought it was clever to subtly lampshade its distinctiveness. (I eventually had to stop reading this way because I realized that my mental conception of RFK's voice is essentially the same as that of JFK. In my head, the scene in which John and Bobby converse sounded like one Kennedy brother talking to himself in the mirror).

  • One thing I particularly liked is that the world of Double Play is designed to fit into ours without too much stretching and pulling. Unlike "secret history" media, this book never claims to tell the "real" story of what happened on November 22, 1963 (the two-term JFK and dead LBJ, for example, clearly mark this out as a history different from our own). Yet the butterfly net cast over such things as the deaths of RFK and MLK show that this world does not diverge too significantly from our own, at least within the context of the story. The fun thing about this is that it becomes interesting to note how certain aspects of the in-book assassination might have come to resemble parts of OTL's assassination when strained through the cheesecloth of history. A prime example is with Lee Oswald above.

  • When I read that both RFK and Lee were dead, I was crushed—the blooming friendship between the two had been my favorite part of the narrative up to that point. But I was also worried about the rest of the book, because I feared that the last third would be much less interesting to read without my two favorite characters to liven it up. However, this fear was soon alleviated as I found the dynamic between Chessman and Ruby to be almost as intriguing! In hindsight, I suppose it's better that both RFK and Lee were both killed rather than one dying and one surviving: if RFK had died, Lee would have been wracked with guilt for failing to protect him, while if Lee had died, RFK would have had to endure the sorrow of continuing his campaign without the help of his closest friend.

  • I was mildly disappointed to find that the book did not provide an answer for the question of who exactly wanted both JFK and LBJ dead at the same time, despite the fact that several characters asked it. I did, however, like that the book provided just enough guidance for the reader to embark on his/her own wild journey across the uncharted galaxy of conspiracy theories. We know, for example, that Mickey Cohen was involved in planning the hit on JFK, but it seems he was unaware of the hit on Johnson. We also know that Carlos Marcello was in on the Johnson hit, but apparently did not know for sure that someone else was also planning to kill Kennedy. We do know, however, that Marcello answers to Meyer Lansky and the Commission, as Cohen's organization presumably does. So it would seem that the primary architects of the entire plot are the Mob. As for what they stood to gain, here is my take: if the double play had succeeded and both the President and Vice President were dead, the federal government and, presumably, its law-enforcing agencies would have been plunged into a period of temporary chaos. The Mob would then use this situation to its advantage, erasing incriminating evidence from Justice Department files, taking over large swaths of American cities without effective opposition, and murdering uppity federal officials. Organized crime would have lunged ahead ten steps in its battle with the federal government, erasing much of the progress made by people like Bobby Kennedy.

Has anyone else here read the book? What did you guys think?
 
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Omund the Wooden-Leg

Chazadjin Marmaduke Brandybuck
#3
I purchased Double Down by Richard Comerford on SLP's ebook store last night, and blew through the entire thing in about 24 hours.

First and foremost, let me extend a hearty bravo to the author! Comerford has created an engaging political thriller that introduces various intricate, interesting mysteries and answers them in a way that only creates more mysteries and leaves the reader begging for more. I only hope he has a presence on this forum so I can ensure that he hears my praise! Here are some fairly non-spoilerific musings on the book:

  • I enjoyed the characterization of Alek James Hidell/Nathan Bedford Forrest Lee. I initially found myself struggling to figure out which one was intended to be the real Lee Harvey Oswald, but then I realized that each character contains elements of "our" LHO: Hiddell went to Russia and took home a bride named Marina, while Lee was born in New Orleans and is as cool as a cucumber. Perhaps the book is implicitly suggesting that "our" LHO never really existed, that he was in fact an amalgamation of two different men whose stories were rolled together for narrative convenience.
  • One part which cracked me up a bit was when RFK asked another character to identify him by his voice. Up until that point, I had been hearing all of RFK's lines in my head in his own voice, and I thought it was clever to subtly lampshade its distinctiveness. (I eventually had to stop reading this way because I realized that my mental conception of RFK's voice is essentially the same as that of JFK. In my head, the scene in which John and Bobby converse sounded like one Kennedy brother talking to himself in the mirror).

  • One thing I particularly liked is that the world of Double Down is designed to fit into ours without too much stretching and pulling. Unlike "secret history" media, this book never claims to tell the "real" story of what happened on November 22, 1963 (the two-term JFK and dead LBJ, for example, clearly mark this out as a history different from our own). Yet the butterfly net cast over such things as the deaths of RFK and MLK show that this world does not diverge too significantly from our own, at least within the context of the story. The fun thing about this is that it becomes interesting to note how certain aspects of the in-book assassination might have come to resemble parts of OTL's assassination when strained through the cheesecloth of history. A prime example is with Lee Oswald above.

  • When I read that both RFK and Lee were dead, I was crushed—the blooming friendship between the two had been my favorite part of the narrative up to that point. But I was also worried about the rest of the book, because I feared that the last third would be much less interesting to read without my two favorite characters to liven it up. However, this fear was soon alleviated as I found the dynamic between Chessman and Ruby to be almost as intriguing! In hindsight, I suppose it's better that both RFK and Lee were both killed rather than one dying and one surviving: if RFK had died, Lee would have been wracked with guilt for failing to protect him, while if Lee had died, RFK would have had to endure the sorrow of continuing his campaign without the help of his closest friend.

  • I was mildly disappointed to find that the book did not provide an answer for the question of who exactly wanted both JFK and LBJ dead at the same time, despite the fact that several characters asked it. I did, however, like that the book provided just enough guidance for the reader to embark on his/her own wild journey across the uncharted galaxy of conspiracy theories. We know, for example, that Mickey Cohen was involved in planning the hit on JFK, but it seems he was unaware of the hit on Johnson. We also know that Carlos Marcello was in on the Johnson hit, but apparently did not know for sure that someone else was also planning to kill Kennedy. We do know, however, that Marcello answers to Meyer Lansky and the Commission, as Cohen's organization presumably does. So it would seem that the primary architects of the entire plot are the Mob. As for what they stood to gain, here is my take: if the double play had succeeded and both the President and Vice President were dead, the federal government and, presumably, its law-enforcing agencies would have been plunged into a period of temporary chaos. The Mob would then use this situation to its advantage, erasing incriminating evidence from Justice Department files, taking over large swaths of American cities without effective opposition, and murdering uppity federal officials. Organized crime would have lunged ahead ten steps in its battle with the federal government, erasing much of the progress made by people like Bobby Kennedy.

Has anyone else here read the book? What did you guys think?
I read most of it on Monday. I couldn't stop reading it. I guessed we would be coming back to Caryl Chessman near the end of the book, for him to write the book and blow the whole conspiracy high. Quite nice reading of the action in the prosperous Sixtys'. I can imagine Carlos' rage at finding out Jack Ruby blabbed to Chess: "That g------ b------! I can't believe that m------------ b------wriggled out!" I, too, was finding it hard to distinguish between Lee Oswald and Alek Hidell.
 
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Roberto El Rey

Unelected bureaucrat
Location
Reims
#4
That’s great, I know @musicgate will be delighted to read such kind words. Have you reviewed Double Play on Amazon? It really helps our authors out if you do.
Not yet, but I will do it as soon as I can!

I read most of it on Monday. I couldn't stop reading it. I guessed we would be coming to Caryl Chessman near the end of the book, for him to write the book and blow the whole conspiracy high. Quite nice reading of the action in the prosperous Sixtys'. I can imagine Carlos' rage at finding out Jack Ruby blabbed to Chess: "That g------ b------! I can't believe that m------------ b------wriggled out!" I, too, was finding it hard to distinguish between Lee Oswald and Alek Hidell.
The sad thing is that even after Chessman’s book gets written and published, it will probably be disregarded by much of the general public as yet another wacko conspiracy theory about an event which all right-thinking people know was simply a case of a lone nut being nutty alone. However, if the right people speak up about the right things, the story could be lent some extra credibility. For example...

RFK and LHO may be dead, but Ethel Kennedy still knows the truth about Nathan Bedford Forrest Lee’s secret identity. If she reads the book and decides to publicly verify the rumors about Oswald being sighted after 1963, that would instantly put this theory on a higher plane. And if the film of Ozzie Rabbit walking across Elm Street is ever made available to the general public, it could make the book even more credible (although the film would probably have to be released sometime before the mid-1990s or so to prevent accusations of digital altering). The US government will surely never go back on its official position, but TTL’s conspiracy theorists will sure have a lot more to go off of.

Aside from that, one other thing I found particularly fun to read about was the way in which the conspiracy’s various bit players would play their parts and congratulate themselves on being so deeply involved and in the know, only to then be bumped off by the next layer of the conspiracy, who in turn would later be eliminated themselves. I loved the irony of poor Alek Hiddell being played as a fool by John and Charles, who then get so caught up in their own genius (and a little spiked bourbon) that they fail to see that they have been played as fools themselves. The plight of Jack Ruby really shows how easy it is to get so caught up in the glory and rush of it all that you fail to realize you’re just a sacrificial pawn in someone else’s game of Chess(man).
 
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Roberto El Rey

Unelected bureaucrat
Location
Reims
#6
That raises the question, how many levels of conspiracy are there?
We don't know, and I think that's the point. When I purchased the book, I envisioned that it would culminate in some James Bond scene in which our heroes come face-to-face with the grand poo-bah of the whole conspiracy, who then calmly explains how it is merely a small part of some grandiose, X-Files-esque plan to usher in a New World Order of blah blah blah. Instead, we never find out for sure who planned the whole thing and why, and after having had a few weeks to ponder the book, I think I like it better that way—in part because it allows us to draw our own conclusions, and also because I think that if the whole thing was unveiled it would just come off as cheesy and cheapen the effect of the author’s in-depth research into the JFK assassination.