Friday, June 25, 2010

NOW ON KINDLE! Books by Ron Franscell

THE DEADLINE

Named One of the Top 25 Best Crime Fictions of 1999 by POISONED PEN

Former Chicago Tribune crime reporter Jefferson Morgan is living his life-long dream of running a weekly newspaper, The Winchester Bullet, in the Wyoming town where he grew up. But when an infamous child-murderer comes home to die and begs Morgan to help clear his name, the dream becomes a nightmare. Under the gravest deadline of his life, amid an extraordinary backlash from his neighbors, readers and advertisers, Morgan struggles with his own conscience to tell a story no matter the consequences, digging deep into the town's past, and revealing a killer who's hidden himself for almost 50 years.

"Ron Franscell has undeniably hit his mark. His masterful storytelling strikes hard at the heart. It leaves his readers stunned one moment, and tenderly moved the next."

—The Denver Post

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THE OBITUARY

When a world-renowned forensic anthropologist journeys to Winchester, Wyoming, to examine the long-dead remains of a woman who claimed to be Etta Place — the Old West’s most mysterious and legendary female outlaw — he’s not expecting to find a man’s headless corpse in her crypt. The grisly discovery plunges him and Jefferson Morgan — the editor of the weekly Winchester Bullet — into a shadowy and deadly world of satellite-savvy highway pirates, rural meth labs, computer hackers and old-fashioned corruption. And they might not survive the fall.

This is the "lost" sequel to Ron's award-wnning 1999 mystery THE DEADLINE and is released as an exclusive to Amazon Kindle readers!

"Ron Franscell's THE OBITUARY is gorgeously written, complex and satisfying — a damn near perfect book." — JOHN LESCROART

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ANGEL FIRE
A stunning literary debut listed by the San Francisco Chronicle among the 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century West (No. 74)

A modern classic that continues to gather a loyal readership, ANGEL FIRE is a haunting tale of two brothers on separate odysseys of self-discovery. Twenty-four years after war correspondent Daniel McLeod is killed in a Viet Cong ambush, his only brother Cassidy is mysteriously drawn to their Wyoming hometown, where he must confront a lifetime of his own ghosts. Their story is about how we seek equilibrium, a delicate balance between memory and the unknown, dislocation and homecoming, loss and restoration.

Set against the deceptive simplicity of a small town on the high plains, Angel Fire is a story of mythic proportions. It resonates with the rhythms of tales told for millennia, but they are written anew here, fresh as a Wyoming summer breeze. It resonates with the rhythms of a small town, the blessings of memory, and the pain of loss.

"Reminiscent of Charles Frazier's 'Cold Mountain' ... (Franscell's) themes involve a fresh approach to our rural roots as a font for the elusive American spirit." -- USA Today

AVAILABLE ON KINDLE NOW!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ready, aim ... firing-squad execution awaits

On Friday, barring any clemency in the next few days, Utah killer Ronnie Lee Gardner will be executed. That's not especially noteworthy except that Gardner chose to be killed by a firing squad (he was sentenced before 2004, when lethal injection became Utah’s default execution method. His other choice was hanging.)

The same old debate about capital punishment is, of course, unfolding. Let it. As with all hijacked conversations in our hollering society, it ignores a large majority that can see times when the death penalty is appropriate and times when it is not. We've heard all the radicals' talking points before, ad nauseam.

What we haven't heard very often is the sound of gunfire in the death house. Firing squads date back to the invention of guns, but only two killers have actually been legally and officially shot to death in the United States, in 1977 (Gary Gilmore) and 1996 (John Taylor). It's not a default method anywhere, but remains an option for condemned inmates in Utah, Idaho and Oklahoma.

Gardner chose the firing squad because it was "easier" and maybe quicker. The process is cloaked in some secrecy, but in the past five sharpshooting volunteers from law enforcement agencies are chosen. The condemned man is strapped in a backless chair, wearing a hood and a target over his heart. The squad is set up on a sturdy firing platform 20 feet away. On a command, they fire simultaneously. One of the shooters' .30-caliber rifles is loaded with a blank cartridge so that any one of the five might reasonably surmise he didn't fire the fatal shot.

Is it cruel? If you radically oppose capital punishment, even lethal injection is cruel. If you radically support capital punishment, it isn't cruel enough. There have been difficulties with all methods (although not with firing squads in the USA because they are used so rarely). But should four bullets not shatter a human heart as expected, an alternate shooter stands by to administer the coup de grace.

Some have argued that firing squads offer a soldier's death, and that hanging more befits common criminals. Opponents say it is a grotesque, "old style" method that's needlessly cruel and messy; proponents say it is swifter and surer than lethal injection, and therefore less cruel.

What are your thoughts about firing squads as a method for carrying out the public's promise to killers? Better or worse than other methods we've used for more than 200 years?

Journalist Ron Franscell is the author of the upcoming DELIVERED FROM EVIL, an extraordinary study of 10 survivors of American mass murderers and serial killers. It will be released in January.