Welcome!! My name is Paul Lappen. I am in my early 50s, single, and live in Connecticut USA. This blog will consist of book reviews, written by me, on a wide variety of subjects. I specialize, as much as possible, in small press and self-published books, to give them whatever tiny bit of publicity help that I can. Other than that, I am willing to review nearly any genre, except poetry, romance, elementary-school children's books and (really bloody) horror.

I have another 800 reviews at my archive blog: http://www.deadtreesreviewarchive.blogspot.com (please visit).

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Cross to Bear

A Cross to Bear, Jack Patterson, Green E-Books, 2014

This novel is about two young men caught up in the world of big-time college football recruiting.

Tre'vell Baker and Dominique Martin are lief-long friends, and very talented high school football players, from small-town Louisiana. Therefore, all the big southern universities (Alabama, Georgia, Florida State, LSU, among many others) are very interested in recruiting them. They verbally commit to Bryant University in Alabama, then visit the school. It's the sort of school that doesn't just severely bend the NCAA recruiting rules, it outright ignores them. While at Bryant, Tre'vell records something that causes both of them to un-commit, and would bring the NCAA Death Penalty down on the school. A couple of days later, Tre'vell is shot and killed by an unknown assailant.

Cal Murphy is a sports reporter from Atlanta. He is sent to do a story on college recruiting, focusing on Tre'vell and Dominique. He meets several "boosters" for several schools. They are passionate fans, whose unofficial job is to keep an eye on the recruit, and do whatever is necessary to get them to "their" school. One day, a brand new sports car is in Dominique's driveway. Supposedly, it's from his Uncle Bernard (who works as a janitor). Dominique knows that it is from one of these boosters (which is very illegal). He posts pictures of himself with the car online. He suddenly goes from Golden Boy to Radioactive; all the other schools who were very interested in him are no longer interested. As Cal gets closer to uncovering just what is going on, a burlap sack is thrown over his head, he is tossed into the back of a pickup truck, and taken deep into the Louisiana Bayou. Several hungry alligators are very nearby.

This story works on all levels. It works as a thriller. It works as a look inside big-time football recruiting, in a part of America where college football is taken Very Seriously. The author is a sportswriter, so it also feels real and plausible. This is a first-rate piece of writing.

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