For a few days there, it seemed like Patrick McLaw, a school teacher in Maryland, had been hauled off by law enforcement and thrown in the loony bin for the unwholesome activity of self-publishing a sci-fi novel. At least that is what local reporters in Cambridge, Maryland had led the public to believe. The wording of this report was bewildering.
It was only days later through the efforts of the The Atlantic and the L.A. Times did any real answers come about, though those answers didn't do a lot to dissuade concerns about the swiftness and severity of response levied upon Patrick McLaw.
As it stands, a celebrated and beloved teacher was involuntarily sent for an emergency psychiatric evaluation after submitting a four-page letter to his employers. A letter in which he does not actually threaten anyone at all, but instead supposedly laments the end of a romantic relationship and complains about his mother. For that, he was suspended and banned from school property, his home raided by police, and schools searched with K-9 units for explosive devices and firearms (of which none where found). While the D.A. tries to diminish how much McLaw's self-published novel about a school shooting set in the 30th century spurred such an extreme reaction from law enforcement, the D.A. admitted that the book did actually influence the response.
But while authorities insist McLaw is not under arrest and no criminal charges are currently pending, pertinent details about this incident, including whether or not Patrick McLaw is still being held against his will in a mental facility, are still being kept from the press.
I am relieved to know Patrick McLaw was not incarcerated solely for writing a work of fiction, as that sounded just too Orwellian to be believed, but I am still troubled by the lack of transparency from authorities and the complicity of local journalists, and how innocuous details of McLaw's life are being not-so-subtly used to paint him in a negative light.
I am very interested to hear what McLaw has to say, if anything, when he is afforded an opportunity to do so.
In the meantime, I will entertain myself with some genre fiction, which would likely land all of these authors in a straight-jacket if they lived in Cambridge, Maryland.
Revenant Road by Michael Boatman - I first found out Boatman wrote horror from the now defunct Pod of Horror some years back. Wasn't until last week that I finally got around to buying one of his books to put on my to-be-read pile. Kind of a monster hunter vibe too. Neat.
Duke City Split by Max Austin - A new pen name for Steve Brewer that seems to be paying off, as the sequel to this hard-boiled crime novel already has a sequel just months after this novel's release.
The Deep by Nick Cutter - The Troop was a super-creepy horror novel, so I can only imagine what Cutter has up his sleeves when he delves into the deep blue sea.
The Buried Children by Daniel Farcas - This one showed up out of the blue in my inbox last week. Looks like it's a take on true events in eastern Europe. Might be worth checking out.
Time of Death: Induction by Shana Festa - I'm listening to the audiobook version of this one via Audible. Nothing like putting on the ol' earbuds and peddle while stationary bike while someone else tries to outrun zombies.
Black Magic Woman by Justin Gustainis - I'm in the middle of Gustainis' Occult Crimes Unit trilogy, but I found myself drawn to this series too, so I bought the first book of a more hard-boiled urban fantasy trilogy.
Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison - Speaking of urban fantasy, this first book in Harrison's series showed up as a freebie on the Kindle store recently and I figured I'd roll the dice on it. The gals at I Smell Sheep approve of it, anyway.
Everything Theory: Blood Routes by Barry Napier - This is the second book in Barry's Everything Theory series. I haven't read the first book yet, but Barry has a knack for spooky things and I don't doubt these books will provide that and a bit more.
Lifetime by Kit Power - This one is a novella that was sent my way, and it looks like a claustrophobic little thriller. Kit's been doing some interesting stuff over at Ginger Nuts of Horror and I have an interview coming up with him soon.
Fight Card: Swamp Walloper by Jack Tunney - Here's another audiobook from Audible, this one a pulpy slobberknocker from the Fight Card series. This time around the Jack Tunney pen name is helmed by Paul Bishop.
All Due Respect #2/#3 by various authors - How about some gritty crime fiction in short story form? I picked up two issues of this periodical, which sports quite a few names I've heard of, plus some new names I look forward to checking out.