“Peculiar” is what the coroner called Albert Ruppert Manigrove III’s death on a dark highway just outside Fort Knox, guardian of America’s gold and home to secret U.S. military operations. It's the early 1950s, and the Cold War has turned hot. Super powers Russia and the U.S. are pitted against each other in a struggle for control of the Korean Peninsula. While this bloody encounter rages on, a more fundamental contest is being played out in secret laboratories and testing sites around the globe. Its signature is the monstrous mushroom cloud—the Hydrogen Bomb, mankind’s deadliest weapon. Was Captain Manigrove’s death tied to the gold or was he a casualty of this secret war?
As an award-winning investigative journalist, editor and political columnist, Alan Eysen wrote for many years about real-world financial and political corruption. At Newsday, he served as a prominent member of the investigative team that won the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for exposing misconduct involving Long Island public officials. After more than thirty years in journalism, he became a political consultant and experienced the other side of the story. Today, Eysen resides in the lowcountry of South Carolina, where he continues to write and be inspired by the colorful characters and harrowing situations he experienced firsthand as a reporter. He can often be found crafting his strong fictional characters with the help of an equally strong dry gin martini.
There is something about a man who once wore a military uniform that gives him a special edge in running for public office. I suspect people instinctively want to thank him for his service—his willingness to put his life on the line in defense of his country. The Manigrove family recognizes that this positive feeling could not only lead to elective office, it could lead to financial profit.
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“Now, there are ways and ways of making a profit,” Grandpa Albert responded. “Young Albert hasn’t shown himself to have any particular interests or hobbies, but he did make it through the Citadel, a rigorous military college as you know. Not the best grades, but he made the drill team, and he looks sharp in a uniform. The way my son and I look at it, young Albert could spend a few years in the service and then begin a career in politics. A man who looks good in a uniform makes a terrific candidate for office, and the Manigroves have not had an elected official in 30 years or more.” He waited for his argument to sink in and then added the hammer. “You know that elected officials dole out contracts and commissions and important jobs, and all of these would come the Manigrove way.”