Saturday, April 4, 2020

"Blame the Dead"

Ed Ruggero is a West Point graduate and former Army officer who has studied, practiced, and taught leadership for more than twenty-five years. His client list includes the FBI, the New York City Police Department, CEO Conference Europe, the CIA, the Young Presidents Organization, Forbes, among many others. He has appeared on CNN, The History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and CNBC and has spoken to audiences around the world on leadership, leader development and ethics. He lives in Philadelphia.

Ruggero applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Blame the Dead, and reported the following:
This scene is from the point of view of Lieutenant Eddie Harkins, the protagonist of Blame the Dead, a former Philadelphia beat cop investigating a murder at a US Army Field Hospital in the wake of the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943. By sheer coincidence he runs across a friend from the old neighborhood, Lieutenant Kathleen Donnelly, a nurse at the same hospital. Donnelly and her comrades contend with heat, dirt, chaos, the threat of imminent, violent death as well as the near-constant stream of shattered wounded coming back from the front.
“See this?” She pulled at the hair on the sides of her head. “Gray. I’m twenty-six years old.”

“The work doing that?” Harkins asked.

Donnelly raked her fingers through her hair, took a breath.

“Mostly the work. Also the lies.”

Harkins was quiet. Outside he could hear women’s voices, a vehicle going by, an inept driver grinding the clutch.

“Some of them ask ‘Am I going to die?’ And you know they are. Shot up bad or burned so that there’s nothing we can do except get some morphine into them, kill some of the pain. And when they ask me that question, I look them right in the eye and I lie to them.”

Donnelly wiped her nose with the back of her hand.

“Jesus,” she said.
This scene was inspired by two things: my experience interviewing World War Two vets, many of whom carried painful memories of their service for five decades and more; and an episode of the old TV series China Beach, which featured interviews with real-life nurses who served in Vietnam. It wasn’t always the memory of a bullet that zinged by that stuck with the riflemen, or the endless hours the women spent in surgery, blood-soaked to the elbows. Sometimes it was one simple, painful, human interaction that defined The War for them.

The rest of the book is seeded with images—sometimes a mere flash—that might become the stuff of nightmares or might be the nucleus of some happy memory.
Visit Ed Ruggero's website.

Writers Read: Ed Ruggero.

My Book, The Movie: Blame the Dead.

--Marshal Zeringue