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Archive for 2012

Canadian WWI Book Finally Available in Canada

I am pleased to announce that this holiday season Amazon.com (USA) finally made Kindle books available to our great neighbor to the north, Canada, at www.amazon.ca

This was a frustratingly long time in coming and I was watching it fairly closely.  I have a book about Canada's participation in WWI that has sold well on the Sony, Kobo and itunes Canadian sites but Amazon.ca was the lone hold out.

So to my Canadian visitors follow the specific Canada / Amazon link below to find out more about the book and purchase it in your own great country if you so choose. Happy Holidays

How Canada Won The Great War @ Amazon Canada
Thursday
Posted by Robert Child

DVD Review of America and the Civil War


I’ve seen a lot of documentaries about the Civil War and to be honest, some just rehash information and visuals from previous programs. America and the Civil War collects five programs that avoid that fate, as each provides an in depth, insightful look at a unique element of the conflict

From: Blue Ray Authority (4 1/2 Stars)
America’s Civil War is a landmark in our nation’s history, so it is no surprise that countless documentaries have been created about every facet of the conflict. In this 2 disc set from the PBS Explorer Collection, you’ll find five programs that look into specific elements of the Civil War in great detail. Gettysburg: The Boys in Blue & Gray (written and directed by Robert Child) gives an in depth look at the Battle of Gettysburg, from a personal perspective. John Brown’s Holy War deals with the controversial actions of John Brown, including how he was viewed at the time and in the modern era. Lincoln’s Secret Weapon tells the story of the U.S.S. Monitor, a key edge in the war and revisits the ship in the present, as recovery efforts are undertaken. The Massachusetts 54th Colored Infantry reveals the true story behind the regiment portrayed in the film Glory, with a wealth of archival photos to help bring the story to life. Reconstruction: The Second Civil War deals with the trials & tribulations the nation faced as it tried to rebuild after the epic conflict. This is an excellent look at the impacts the Civil War left in it’s wake.


I’ve seen a lot of documentaries about the Civil War and to be honest, some just rehash information and visuals from previous programs. America and the Civil War collects five programs that avoid that fate, as each provides an in depth, insightful look at a unique element of the conflict. These topics have been covered in other documentaries, but not with this level of attention and detail, so history buffs should be quite pleased. I found the Reconstruction program to be the highlight, since the fallout of the war isn’t often dealt with in this extensive fashion. The John Brown program is also of high interest, with a focus on how history has looked back on his actions. But all five offered the kind of detailed, polished presentations you’d expect from the acclaimed sources like American Experience and Nova. With almost seven hours of content on tap, America and the Civil War offers a great value that history buffs won’t want to miss.

Some episodes are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, while others are shown in full frame. In either case, the episodes are always shown in their intended format, so no concerns there. These programs looks good, about what you’d expect from a non-HD broadcast. The images are clean and sharp, with no digital errors or other concerns present. There is some variance in terms of source, so some elements look better than others, but that’s to be expected with documentaries. Overall, these programs looks good and fans should be satisfied.

Some programs feature a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, while others offer a stereo presentation. These kind of programs don’t need expansive audio, so the sound design is simple, but effective. The narration and interview dialogue tends to be the focus, so vocals are clean and easy to understand. The rest of the audio takes a backseat, but still sounds fine. So not much else we could want from this type of material.  The programs also support English subtitles.
Wednesday
Posted by Robert Child

Minecraft - The Future of Video is Now


And a child would lead them...

Anyone who has young boys knows that there is a phenomenon happening on Youtube and gaming that in my view is rewriting the  rules of content production and delivery. My boys Josh, 9 and Jamie, 7 are Youtube addicts but they are not watching cats play piano or anything like that. They are addicted to a series of videos produced as far as I can tell by a couple of guys in their basement. What these guys do is narrate their game play on a game called Minecraft. Josh and Jamie don't actually have the game they just watch these two guys play narrate,  joke and sometimes swear. I had a talk with my boys about that when I heard it.

They no longer watch television unless they use the Youtube app on my Samsung to watch Minecraft on the big screen. One day I thought I am going to sit down with my guys and find out what this is all about. Within about two minutes I was bored silly but that's not the point. The point is these video are getting hundreds of thousands of hits and they are redefining what we consider to be "entertainment".

And this entertainment is happening online and growing right under our collective noses. Why bother any more jumping through flaming hoops to get a movie made. Just find an audience online and deliver them what they want - production values be damned.

Now this of course has been coming for a very long time and I believe we have reached the tipping point with online video consumption. DVDs died a very sudden death in 2008 and they ain't coming back. I could see that in the royalties payments for my films they sank like a stone. And even my newer films and the one that is getting the most notice and publicity, The Wereth Eleven, has not moved the units it could have ten years, even five years ago. No we are definitely in the streaming age and thank goodness.

Watching a DVD disc in my house has become a frustrating ordeal. First you will find the empty box and then you will locate the heavily scratched silver disc under the couch and hope you can clean it enough to play. Most times it won't.

Cable is for all intent and purposes is dead. It is cheaply produced content and unfortunately disposable. This is to be expected as the audience has shrunk drastically. The ad revenue is simply not there to support producing the content/ Streaming, watching Minecraft and other gameplay on Youtube this is what is growing and this is where the future is now. In fact is probably already old news.

If you want to explore more Minecraft content I recommend checking out The Top 15+ Minecraft Mods over at Lyncconf.




Friday
Posted by Robert Child

A PBS Civil War DVD Collection for the Holidays

I would like to alert all Civil War enthusiasts to a 2 Disc, Civil War DVD box set that PBS just released which is a perfect gift for the holidays, America And The Civil War. My, Gettysburg The Boys in Blue and Gray, film heads the collection of five signature films from PBS's top series' NOVA and American Experience.
“There is no doubt in our minds that Gettysburg The Boys in Blue and Gray is one of the finest programs we have seen about the Civil War. The music accompanying the film is simply incredible and adds a great finishing touch to what is an already compelling film.”
- Steven Thum and Elaine Larson, South Dakota Public Broadcasting
 If you are going to get just one DVD for the Civil War lover in your life this Christmas this collection would be it. It features over 450 minutes of award winning program material. Note the details below.

Programs include...

Disc 1 (227')
Gettysburg: The Boys in Blue & Gray - Discover the sweeping epic story of the Battle of Gettysburg, as experienced by the soldiers who were there.

American Experience: John Brown's Holy War - Martyr, madman, and murderer, John Brown was as controversial and misunderstood in the mid-1800s as he is today.

NOVA: Lincoln's Secret Weapon - The Union's USS Monitor was a decisive factor in the Civil War. Now, join a team of Navy divers as they attempt to recover the priceless artifacts.

Disc 2 (231')
American Experience: The Massachusetts 54th Colored Infantry - The historical narratives and archival photos in this fascinating documentary reveal the real story of the heroic African American regiment dramatized in the movie Glory.

America Experience: Reconstruction: The Second Civil War - Spanning the years from 1863 to 1877, this dramatic mini-series recounts the tumultuous post-Civil War years, as America struggled to rebuild.

This DVD features subtitles in English (SDH) Purchase at shopPBS.com
Wednesday
Posted by Robert Child

DVD Review: USS Franklin: Honor Restored


"The story of Big Ben and what became known as The Big Ben 704 Club is one that transcends anything out of Hollywood!"
"There have been many documentaries and books written about the USS Franklin, but this is by far the best one I have encountered."

The following review appeared on Blogger New Network November 28, 2012  


Directed by Robert Child
From Blogger New Network: (Simon Barrett)
"I have to start this review with a gripe! The USS Franklin has always been an honorable vessel, at no point did it need to prove it’s honor! The USS Franklin is a story that alas most people, particularly young people have never heard of! I couldn’t wait to watch this DVD. What angle would the film makers take? However before I discuss the DVD, let me give you a very brief introduction to the story. That well known repository of information, Wikipedia has this to say about the USS Franklin:

The USS Franklin (CV/CVA/CVS-13, AVT-8), nicknamed “Big Ben,” was one of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers built during World War II for the United States Navy, and the fifth US Navy ship to bear the name. Commissioned in January 1944, she served in several campaigns in the Pacific Theater of Operations, earning four battle stars. She was badly damaged by a Japanese air attack in March 1945, with the loss of over 800 of her crew, becoming the most heavily damaged United States carrier to survive the war. Movie footage of the actual attack was included in the 1949 film Task Force starring Gary Cooper.
While I might grudgingly agree with the broad definition, I will fight tooth and nail that the story is far larger. The new DVD release from Janson Media, USS Franklin: Honor Restored is a must watch. This documentary is a little different from most. I have a friend involved in the publishing business, he uses the term ‘living history’. He only publishes books written by people that had a firsthand knowledge of an event. Obviously the film makers behind this DVD share those same convictions. USS Franklin: Honor Restored is a superb marriage of vintage footage and modern interviews with some of the seamen who lived through the gruesome events of March 1945.



 There have been many documentaries and books written about the USS Franklin, but this is by far the best one I have encountered. The story of Big Ben as the Franklin was nicknamed is a contentious one. At the time, and indeed decades later ‘finger pointing’ goes on as to exactly what went wrong. How could a single Japanese dive bomber cripple a ‘state of the art’ Aircraft Carrier? Some argue the fault was in the failure to sound General Quarters when radar picked up the intruder. Had they done so, they might have been able to get most of the fuel heavy planes of the flight deck, thus minimizing the effect of the Japanese dive bomber. There are many twists and turns in the Big Ben story. One of the strangest being sailors accused of ‘desertion’ because they jumped into the cold ocean water to avoid almost certain death from the Fireball that had engulfed the deck. USS Franklin: Honor Restored is a very unique piece of work. Yes, I am a fan of History, but this DVD goes far beyond just appealing to history buffs. The story of Big Ben and what became known as The Big Ben 704 Club is one that transcends anything out of Hollywood!" - Simon Barrett

Read Further about USS Franklin: Honor Restored on this Blog:

Honor Restored Debuts on Hulu
The Captain Who Court Marshaled His Crew
Robert Child Named Honorary Crew Member USS Franklin
Dale Dye Completes Narration for Franklin Film
Posted by Robert Child

New Review of The Wereth Eleven

Written and Directed by Robert Child
A new review of The Wereth Eleven was released yesterday on Blogger News Network. (see below)


"If you are interested in history, this is without a doubt one of the finest documentaries about a little known, or understood part of World War II."


Blogger News Network 12/3/12 by Simon Barrett.
"World War II has spawned thousands of books and movies. Many of which are disturbing. How can man be so cruel to his fellow man? Most of these books and movies tend to look at the big picture, famous battles for example. Many of these works quote staggering statistics about the dead and wounded. But the numbers are so large that it is often difficult to comprehend. What does 4 million look like? What does 1 million look like? To most people these numbers are hard to visualize.
I prefer numbers that I can understand. The Wereth Eleven refers to eleven men that needlessly were slaughtered by Hitler’s Waffen SS near Wereth Belgium. It was not about who they were, but what they were. They were eleven men of African-American descent.


Although I previously stated that big numbers were hard to deal with, I have to use one. When the US entered World War II there was a need for man power. Over a million men of African-American descent were conscripted into the battle. But one has to understand that the America of the 1940’s was a far different place. Segregation was the name of the game, integration was not to happen for years. As a consequence the African-American soldiers were put into their own units. Maybe the most famous of which are the Tuskegee Airmen. Less celebrated was the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion.

There are few members of the 333rd still alive, the Filmmakers did however track down the now 90 year old Staff Sargent George Shomo. His comments are both thought provoking and deeply disturbing. Hitler’s Third Reich viewed people of African origin as “Monkeys, less than Monkeys”.  He also goes on to explain some of the friction even with the US hierarchy prior to his deployment to the European theater. I will not tell the story here, it is better that the viewer discover it for themselves. It is better that your hear it from George rather than me.
The Wereth Eleven is a very sad story. The setting is the huge conflict known as The Battle Of The Bulge. But the story is far more complex than a mere fire fight. The Wereth Eleven story is so unique that in Wereth, Belgium there exists a memorial.
If you are interested in history, this is without doubt one of the finest documentaries about a little known, or understood part of both World War II and our heritage." - Simon Barrett.
Tuesday
Posted by Robert Child

Canada's Last 100 Days of WWI in Color

A few years ago I had the good fortune to be asked to helm a project in Canada called Dominion Day. I knew very little about Canadian military history but dove right in. With the incredible research that had been done by John Wood on the team I was given a binder at least four inches thick and I studied it like a fiend. The material was meticulously put together and I learned the story of how, General Sir Arthur Currie, rose from obscurity to command the most powerful fighting force on the western front, The Canadian Corp.
WWI became real to me and not some distant out of focus story that happened, "over there" in the very distant past. The stories I read were filled with emotion and very real to me and for the film I wanted to make it as vivid to viewers as possible. One of the creative decisions I made was to use, as part of the visual look, colorized stills of iconic scenes. We hired perhaps the best Photoshop® designer in the country and he went to work. He studied the fabrics used, the paint colors on tanks, flags, wall paper and just about everything else. Once he delivered his first colored WWI photo it hit me hard - suddenly the people had life... the days had sun, the grass was green - the story was up close and personal.

The production unfortunately decided to go off in a different creative direction as happens with projects and the stills were never used or seen...until now. I have held onto these images as I thought them absolutely stunning and I now believe they should be shared with the world. I just released a book based on the script I wrote for the Dominion Day film called, How Canada Won The Great War and these photos are in sequence and follow that story. My favorite photo is the last one in the series and when you see it you'll know why. I hope you enjoy these images and I can say with confidence this is the only place in the world and on the web you will see them. Best wishes and prepare to be transported back in time.

Sunday
Posted by Robert Child

Meeting Rear Admiral E.P. Yates (ret.)

I did not want to let this day pass without writing that I had the distinct honor of meeting and conversing with retired Rear Admiral, Earl P. Yates, this morning. He was the first Commanding Officer of the USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) aircraft carrier. Admirmal Yates had watched the USS Franklin: Honor Restored film last evening and said he truly enjoyed it. In fact he shared a funny story of actually boarding the Frankin, at Ulithi in the Pacific pretending to be part of her crew just because he wanted to see the carrier up close.

He is one of the few people I have met in the military who served in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. And on this Thanksgiving I am thankful to men like him who have protected our country on the front lines and served with honor and distinction.

The USS John F. Kennedy, nicknamed "Big John." Kennedy was originally designated a CVA (fixed wing attack carrier); however, the designation was changed to CV to denote that the ship was capable of anti-submarine warfare making her an all-purpose carrier.

After nearly 40 years of service in the United States Navy, Kennedy was officially decommissioned on 1 August 2007. She is berthed at the NAVSEA Inactive Ships On-site Maintenance facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Admiral Yates shared with me that hopefully soon the carrier will have a new home as a floating museum at a location in New England.
Learn more about the carrier HERE.
Wednesday
Posted by Robert Child

It's Thanksgiving so it Must be Time for a Sale

I was just alerted to two Thanksgiving promotions that are going on that involve my online courses at Udemy and several of my films with Janson Media. So I wanted to pass these HOT deals along to you. First there is the Black Friday promotion at Udemy.

Black Friday Promotion at Udemy:

Udemy is offering a discount to my online course as listed below. Just click get discount and the 39% Black Friday discount will be applied automatically.

Turn Your Screenplay into an Ebook Course

Writing a screenplay is one of the toughest tasks anyone can undertake. It can take months even years to craft your story to the point where is can be shopped around. Unfortunately Hollywood is making fewer and fewer movies every year so the odds of getting your story read let alone produced grow slimmer each day. And your screenplay now gathering dust on a shelf or sitting in a drawer is good for just about zero. The only way to reap the benefits of all that hard work is to transform it into something else - a finished product - a Kindle or Nook ebook. Get Discount.

Create An Awesome Book Trailer Course


A book trailer is one of the fastest growing, powerful trends in promoting books by way of the Internet. It is also one of the cheapest and easiest way to reach your target audience and generate sales via video-sharing sites, websites, blogs, social networking sites and book related sites. 
Youtube increasingly is becoming the search engine of choice for consumers and having a video about your book on the mega video site is the fastest way for readers to discover it.
 This course will provide the road map and tools to create a low cost or even free effective book trailer that will start generating discovery and sales. Get Discount.
Once created and distributed your book trailer works 24 hours a day across the globe as your most powerful sales tool. 

Fund Your Creative Startup Course

This course is designed from the ground up from my experience of funding creative projects and making my dreams a reality since the age of 15. It has not at times been the easiest road to travel but without a doubt it has been the most rewarding.  This course gives you the tools and demonstrates the best practices that work in the real world when you want to launch a creative start up. If you have the desire to breakout and start something in the creative field AND want to support yourself while doing it this is your course. We cover the many approaches and ways to get you to your goal including crowd funding with Kickstarter and securing venture capital online. Get Discount.

CYBER MONDAY SALE 50 % Off


Janson Media is offering all their DVD title for sale on Monday (Cyber Monday at a 50% discount. Janson distributes my films, The Wereth Eleven, USS Franklin: Honor Restored, Lincoln and Lee at Antietam and Silent Wings. You can purchase Wereth for example from Janson at on $12.48 for the DVD that's less expensive than Amazon. I encourage you to take advantage of this one day sale on Monday. Below is a link to their online shop to start your holiday shopping.

Follow the link below and enter Promo Code  jansoncyber50
And to all a very Happy Thanksgiving!
Janson Media DVD Store (click to go there now).


Posted by Robert Child

Thanks to the Binghamton University Forum

Last week I had the great pleasure of meeting Binghamton University President, Dr. Harvey Stenger, and speaking before a capacity crowd at the Binghamton University Forum as part of the Distinguished Speaker Series. My presentation was titled, "The Wereth Eleven - An Unknown War Crime" and it was warmly received. And I'd like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who made me feel so welcomed. After the presentation I answered a number of questions from members about the story and the film and everyone really seemed to enjoy the event.

Below is a news story from the local Binghamton TV station about the event.

Tuesday
Posted by Robert Child

USS Franklin film debuts on Hulu for Veterans Day

I was just notified by our distributor just in time for Veterans Day that our film, USS Franklin: Honor Restored, which I directed and co-wrote made its debut on Hulu today. You can watch the film in it's entirely with limited commercial interruption on Hulu at the link below. All of us on the production team invite you to check it out and tell every veteran you know about it. It is dedicated to them.

Watch on Hulu now.


View the Trailer:


Read the story about the Franklin.
Monday
Posted by Robert Child

Binghamton Forum This Week

In celebration of Veterans Day I am heading north to speak at the prestigious Binghamton Forum. My breakfast keynote is titled, The Wereth Eleven An Unknown War Crime. I will detailing the tragic event itself as well as what it took to bring this story from WWII to the screen. The Wereth Eleven was nominated for an Emmy® this year and airs on The Military Channel in February 2013 in celebration of Black History Month.



From the Binghamton Forum website:
Established in 1977 as the Harpur Forum, the Binghamton University Forum is a membership organization devoted to strengthening the bond between the University and the community. It serves local business, professional and community leaders by hosting events that encourage new thinking, generate discussion and give members the chance to meet some of the most remarkable people alive today. Forum events also provide a rich environment for personal and professional networking. 
Sunday
Posted by Robert Child

For Veterans Day Take a Free Course

Most of my past award winning films have involved some branch of the American military; Silent Wings (Air Force, Army Air Corps), The Wereth Eleven (Army) USS Franklin: Honor Restored (Navy) and in celebration of veterans and their service I am now making the three online course I have produced at Udemy FREE to register for until midnight Monday night November 12, 2012. You will have as long is you wish to take the course only the FREE registration ends tomorrow night. Give them a try.

Courses now available on the iPad. 



Check out the course introductions below for more information and special limited time offers. 




Register for FREE for this course until midnight November 12, 2012 Click Here.


Register for FREE for this course until midnight November 12, 2012 Click Here.



Register for FREE for this course until midnight November 12, 2012 Click Here.

Posted by Robert Child

WE BELIEVE Movie Website Launches

After months of design and technical work the official website for my forthcoming faith-based film, WE BELIEVE, launched yesterday. The team is very excited as we can showcase the producing power behind the film and introduce movie-goers across the world to a story they may not of heard of. The web address for the new site is www.webelievefilm.com

The site features the promo trailer for the film produced earlier this year with actor, Charles Mathers, in the role of Anthony "Ant" Atkinson.

A riveting HOOSIERS meets FACING THE GIANTS sports drama, WE BELIEVE is based on the true story of the Barton Bulldogs' remarkable 2007 NCAA Division II national championship season. The team was led by Coach Ron Lievense, a man of tremendous personal faith in God. The Barton Bulldogs recovered from a devastating overtime loss, to the eventual national champion Winona State Warriors in the 2006 Elite Eight playoffs, to become a team of destiny the following season, winning a record nine overtime games. In a dramatic rematch, the Bulldogs again faced undefeated, #1 ranked, Winona State for the 2007 national championship.
Saturday
Posted by Robert Child

The Russian van Gogh Novel Excerpt #3


* The third released except from my forthcoming fiction novel, The Russian van Gogh.

VAUX HALL, SIS BLDG. LONDON, UK

MI6 Agent, Justin Watson, had seen the text come in on his Blackberry and was hurrying along the rounded corridor to an appointment with Jeremy Lloyd head of the Special Investigations Unit at SIS.
Justin, a top international operative, had been with the service just over five years and had heard the rumors about “special investigations”  - ultra secret, politically sensitive missions always covert in nature that were never discussed.
Arriving at the wing of the department he passes through additional security measures; retinal and voice scans before entering the inner sanctum.
Jeremy Lloyd, Justin knew, was a legend at SIS and had been instrumental in bringing on board former KGB agent, Alexander Litvinenko as a consultant for MI5 and MI6. The former Russian agent had provided invaluable intel about the inner workings of the KGB just before his mysterious poisoning death in 2006 from radioactive plutonium-210.
If Jeremy Lloyd was heading a new investigation Russia must be involved somehow, Justin thought.
“Agent Watson, thank you for coming on short notice,” Jeremy says with a practiced smile and cold handshake as he leads Justin into his expansive office.
Scanning the room, Watson is impressed with the art that hangs from the Sector head’s walls – mainly late 19th Century Post Impressionist works.
Jeremy noticing, “Ah mainly just giclees – high resolution prints on canvas, Agent Watson. If they were the real thing I wouldn’t be here.”
Justin smiles.
“Do you know anything about van Gogh, Watson?”
“Only that he was considered one of the great masters of impressionist art.”
“Post Impressionist,” Lloyd corrects, “but no matter his paintings are worth multiple millions of pounds. And the Red Army certainly knew that when they raped Berlin of its cultural artifacts.”
Justin gives the inspector a quizzical look. How did the Red Army suddenly enter into all this?
“You see in the last hours of closing the noose around Berlin the Red Army had advance scouts everywhere as the eyes and ears of the Trophy Brigade. These scouts secretly located precious works of art, safely secured them then set fire to the buildings that formerly housed them.”
Justin nods to continue.
“And this is exactly what happened in Magdeburg, Germany in May, 1945, 150km west of Berlin. There a museum housing priceless works of art was set ablaze after it was emptied of its most valuable pieces during, as luck would have it, an allied bombing raid. Perfect cover for an art heist wouldn’t you say?
“Perfect”, Justin concurs.
“One of those priceless museum pieces just surfaced in Russia.”
“One guess, a van Gogh?” Justin asks smugly.
“Yes but not just any van Gogh. It is a self-portrait of the artist himself in a landscape. It is called Painter on the Road to Tarascon and it is now in the hands of a rogue branch of the Russian mafia.”
“Rogue branch?”
“Yes, Watson.” Lloyd picks up and opens a burgundy folder on his desk and hands it to the young agent, “led by this man, Sergey Karpov, formerly part of the Lubyanka Criminal Group.”
“Putin’s organization?
“The same,” Jeremy confirms then continues. “Karpov was Putin’s right hand man supervising the lucrative drug trade out of Afghanistan.”
Justin flips through the dossier as Lloyd continues.
“We believe the two had a falling out why else would he turn and steal what’s considered priceless State property.”
“How do you think the Putin government will respond?”
“Respond? Like they always do, with an iron fist,” Lloyd replies unemotionally.
“Karpov probably had a buyer already lined up on the black market,” Justin theorizes.
Under normal circumstances I would agree with you, Watson but instincts tell me otherwise. No, something quite bigger is a foot here.”
“Go on.”
“Simple human nature - you don’t simply steal a lost van Gogh that the world hasn’t seen for over sixty years without announcing to the planet that you’ve got it.”
“So you believe Karpov still has it?”
“I would bet my life on it,” Lloyd responds confidently.
“And so what are you proposing?”
“British Intelligence is now working with the Dutch government and Interpol to organize a joint task force. Justice Secretary Clarke has placed this on high priority status.”
Justin nods, impressed.
“The Director has empowered me to put together a team to secure the art. It is a highly covert operation traveling inside Russia. As our leading European operative you will head the team. You’ll link up with our man in Moscow after you connect with the van Gogh museum.
 “Certainly, Sir.”
 “And, oh yes, the Dutch have offered a substantial reward for the painting’s return.”
“I knew there had to be something more, how much?” Justin asks.
“Ten million euros for the van Gogh alone.”
“That’s substantial.”
“Watson this operation is highly delicate and the political ramifications enormous. If the Russian authorities discover you, protocol J will trigger. You will have no choice.”
Lloyd allows this to sink in a moment then continues, “you leave for Amsterdam tonight.”  
Friday
Posted by Robert Child

The Russian van Gogh Novel Excerpt #2


*This is the second excerpt from my forthcoming fiction novel, The Russian van Gogh. The book is almost complete at this writing and I will be posting additional excerpts.


MARLBOROUGH STREET APARTMENT

Riley, in front of her computer with Murphy stretched out at her feet scans the Expedia search result for flights to Corsica. “Ok, Logan to Ajaccio, France, $1486, $1535, for coach?” Hopefully I can get the Corsican authorities to pay for the trip.
RING, RING, RING
Jarred by her phone, “Nobody calls me on my landline, must be a sales call Murph.” The dog continues to snooze.
The phone continues to ring and finally mercifully stops. “Gave up suckers?” she smiles.
From her bag on the kitchen counter the muffled electronic RINGTONE of her cell phone begins. Her brow narrows. She looks over to the landline then back to her bag.
She gets up and moves to the kitchen, finds her buried cell phone and presses it to her ear.
“Hello?”
The familiar voice on the other end speaks haltingly.
“Professor Spenser, ah, this is Dan Clarke.”
“Dan?”
“I apologize Professor for the lateness of the call but I have an pressing matter to discuss and the foundation urgently needs your assistance.”
“Of course what is it?”
“Not over the phone.”
Riley’s interest now was peaked, “alright. I have a break tomorrow between lectur-”
Dan cuts her off, insistent, “tonight. I need to speak with you tonight, Riley.”
She pauses.
“I’m sorry, Riley, but this involves something dear to you.” Clarke implores.
Riley reflects, she had never heard the chairman of the Harvard Group of Monument Men Foundation so upset, almost unglued. The Harvard Group as part of the Monument Men Foundation was formed in 1940 after the fall of Paris to provide expertise on captured WWII cultural artifacts. They also assisted, to this day, in tracking and recovery of stolen artwork from WWII. Riley had participated in a couple of their forensic investigations but they had never reached out to her so directly before.
“Certainly, Dan, I’m at 232 Marlborough in a brownstone. Call me back if you get lost.”
“Yes, I’ll see you in fifteen minutes.”
Hanging up the phone Riley could not imagine what could be so important that Dan wanted to meet tonight. And what did he mean by something dear to me?

Chapter   3
_______________________

Riley had known Dan Clarke more than five years after meeting him at a faculty luncheon and discovering that they shared similar artistic passions. He had round silver glasses, white hair and kind eyes. He was the type Riley knew that if he were 30 years younger she’d fall madly in love with him.
Arriving at the door in a tan jacket and bow tie Clarke is the epitome of the fatherly academic - kind to a fault but unrelenting in his mission to recover looted art.
“Dan, it’s been too long,” as Riley squeezes him with a daughterly hug.
“Agreed, and I wish our meeting tonight were under more agreeable circumstances.”
Riley nods, still wondering what on earth he could mean as she leads him into her living room.
“Tea?”
“No thank you dear, water would be fine.”
Grabbing some chilled water from the fridge, Riley notices that Dan is drawn to her van Gogh prints.
“Thank you,” Clarke responds as Riley hands him the glass.
Finishing a sip he says, “I am sorry about my insistence on seeing you tonight but something extraordinary has occurred.”
“What is it Dan?”
“Stolen Second World War art has surfaced in Russia.”
Riley looks at him oddly. Everyone in the art community knew the Red Army had virtually emptied Berlin of anything of value, although it was not widely known to the general public. Dedicated Red Army “Trophy Brigades” carried millions of pieces of art back to the USSR as reparation for German atrocities. Most of it was still hidden in warehouses in Russia and Poland.
“Dan, you know this is not news. The Russians carried off billions of dollars worth of art.”
“Yes, of course I know, Riley” but that looted art now includes masterpieces which the global art community thought destroyed in allied bombing raids and fires.”
Riley nods to have him continue.
“We have received word from our underground contacts in Europe that some significant pieces were taken last week in a raid by Russian terrorists in Nizhny Novgorod. Information is somewhat sketchy but my sources confirmed with almost one hundred percent certainly that one of the pieces was a priceless van Gogh thought lost in a fire in 1945.”
Riley gasps, raises a hand to her mouth, “oh my God.”
She turns and races over to a large pictorial book on a shelf.
Pulling it out she slams it down on a coffee table and rifles through the pages.
“I’ll save you the trouble,” Dan says softly, “It was The Painter On The Road To Tarascon.”
Tears begin in Riley’s eyes, “Oh my God,” as she turns back to the art book and finds the van Gogh self-portrait.
Softly Riley repeats van Gogh’s own words, “portraits allowed him to feel the infinite more than anything else.”

Posted by Robert Child

Blood Betrayal Excerpt #3


Chapter 4
MAFIA CLUBHOUSE 7TH STREET, PHILADELPHIA

Seven men, including capo, Phil Leoni and Nick Consiglioni, surround a card table.
Smoke hangs thick as each plays a hand of ziganet, the Italian version of baccarat. Suddenly,
they’re startled by two loud knocks on the door. All men instinctively reach for their guns as
Leoni goes to the door and peers through a hole.
Charlie faces the door as Murray waits off to the side.
Leoni turns back to the men, “It’s a cop.”
The men hide their guns and slide away the cards.
“Yeah, who is it?” Leoni barks.
“PHPD. Got a report of a disturbance at this address,” Charlie replies.
Leoni looks back oddly at the men and comes back. “Disturbance? There ain’t no
disturbance here.”
“Mind if I check?”
Leoni nods to get the guns out of sight and complies, “Yeah, just wait a second.”
Consiglioni moves across to the closet and stashes the guns inside and nods OK. Leoni
opens the door. Charlie enters. “Officer Stanowski, PHPD.”
Murray quickly follows Charlie. The mobsters recognize Murray and deflate.
Leoni protests, “I thought it was just you.”
“I never said it was just me, hotshot.”
“Gentlemen, what do we have going on here?” Murray interjects, Charlie continues.
“Yeah, six guys sitting around a table, thumbs up their a**** – something ain’t right.”
“Leoni,” Murray says pointing, “you tell your sh**head boss his joke wasn’t funny. He
just took a big bite of a sh** sandwich.”
The mobsters look to each other with blank faces.
“Look, Murray, I don’t know what the f***you’re talking about,” Consiglioni shouts.
“You just tell him if he’s looking for me, he knows where to find me,” Murray
counters. The mobsters roll their eyes. Murray pauses and gives Charlie a slight grin and nods
to the men. Charlie immediately gets Frank’s unspoken request to f*** with them. Charlie
turns and fakes beginning to head for the door.
“Okay, I guess we’ll be leaving,” then Charlie pauses and turns back, “By the way, who
let you guys in here?”
Leoni looks back at his fellow mobsters. And back to Charlie. “I don’t know, nobody?”
Charlie responds, “Oh, so nobody let you in. Where’s your key?”
Leoni shrugs, the other men do as well.
Charlie presses, “Somebody had to unlock the door to let you in.”
Leoni folds his arms together, on the defensive.
“I see so you broke in, then you’re all f***in’ burglars!” Charlie shouts.
“No! No! We, we gotta key.” Leoni protests. Mobsters start rifling through their
pockets not finding any keys. Charlie grabs his shoulder radio mic.
“This is officer 5789, Stanowski, corner of 7th and Passyunk.”
Radio crackles, dispatcher responds, “Go ahead, 5789.”
“I have a possible 10-39 in progress, need backup and a wagon.”
“10-4,” the dispatcher responds. “Any shots fired?”
Charlie looks over to the men, smiles and clicks the radio mic again.
“Not yet.”
“Roger,” the dispatcher responds, “assistance is on the way.”
Consiglioni moves to get up shouting, “Hey! Hey!”
Drawing his weapon, Charlie barks, “Sit the f*** back down and shut up.”
Murray moves his hand close to his waist holster and Charlie leans back to Murray and
whispers, “You know something, I’m gonna miss all this.”

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Blood Betrayal Novel Excerpt #2


FUGITIVE SQUAD ROOM, FBI HEADQUARTERS, PHILADELPHIA

The phone on Murray’s desk rings loudly. Jarred, Murray picks up the receiver,
“Fugitives, Murray.”
On the other end, Marlene inhales a cigarette and is still holding the card. “Frank, just
what the hell’s going on!”
Frank pulls the receiver from his ear, looks at the phone. “What? What do you mean
what’s going on?”
Marlene begins to pace around the kitchen to calm her nerves and continues.
“I just got a basket of flowers delivered.”
Frank wonders if Marlene has truly finally lost her mind.
“Okay…?”
“They were meant for you.”
Annoyed, Murray says, “Me! What, I don’t get it. I don’t know anyone who would
send me flowers. It’s gotta be some mistake.”
Marlene loses it. “Frank, it’s a f****** funeral arrangement!”
Murray leans back, “A funeral arrangement? What? Who died?”
Slowly, Marlene responds, “According to the card, Frank, you did.”

SUPERVISOR’S OFFICE, FBI HEADQUARTERS, PHILADELPHIA

In a glass-paneled office with large file cabinets, a gruff supervisor, European-looking Hans Bauer, 55, thinning blond hair and suspenders, sits across from Murray.
“Delivery trail was cold,” Bauer reports. “They must have paid in cash. Is there anyone
you can think of who’d send you something like this? Frank innocently shrugs and Bauer
rephrases. “Scratch that, is there anyone you know who wouldn’t send you something like
this?”
Murray’s got a gut feeling.
“Gotta be Scarponi. I can just feel it. That ass**** should still be in jail.”
Bauer nods, does his best to follow procedure. “I’ll send some guys downtown with
PHPD – bust some balls – get some answers.”
Murray eager, “Well, I know one of their clubhouses is on Seventh Street.”
Bauer picks up a pen and waits for details. There’s an awkward moment, then Bauer
realizes what Frank really wants. “Oh no. Not a chance, Frank. I don’t want you personally
involved. And besides you’re not on organized crime anymore, remember.”
Frank takes the opportunity to reopen the discussion, “Actually, I kinda wanted to talk
to you about that.”
Bauer, anger rising, says, “Oh you did, did you. Okay, where do you want to start?”
Murray rolls his eyes as Bauer goes on a tear. Bauer launches in. “Oh, I know, why
don’t we talk about how the U.S. Attorney’s Office jumped on my ass every time you went
over to ‘talk some sense into them,’ as you would call it. Or maybe we could discuss the
endless parade of defense attorneys traipsing through my office screaming about excessive
use of force, huh? Is that what you wanted to talk about, Frank?”
Murray sighs, gets up and begins to leave. Bauer calls after him.
“Nice chatting with you, Frank.”

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