Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sponsor: THE CEMETERY VOTE by Steve Silkin

Book blurb:
Sex, drugs and election fraud: Jace Kingman, a drug dealer, is recruited to round up Latino day laborers and take them to the polls on Election Day. Dan Vienna, a fired police officer on the road to become an internet porn producer, tries to extort a million dollars from a losing candidate for U.S. Senate by claiming he can prove the election was stolen. Jace and Dan will cross paths as both schemes go wrong. Can they save themselves? Or will they destroy each other?

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Reviewer Comments:

Author Steve Silkin did an amazing job with this – producing a well-told and fast-moving story about life, politics and redemption in 1990s Southern California. I especially enjoyed Silkin's characters and how he used them – just as much as he used events – to drive the story. – Chris Truscott

Silkin ... writes at times pithily, at other times steamily, but always with an eye toward propelling the story forward. And a compelling story it is, a saga of political corruption set in Southern California; a mixture of Tarantino, Elmore Leonard and Daley machine politics of the '30s, set in the suburbs and exurbs of latter-day LA. – Book Guy
An intriguing story told with a witty sideways deadpan. I really enjoyed this one. It's got a bit of everything, including a not-so tacit reminder that living in LA really is just like you are always told it could be - a scary wonderful read. – Gregory J Barina

Author bio:
Steve Silkin was born in New York, grew up in Los Angeles, and has lived in London and Paris. He has stood at the edge of the Sahara and consulted the Oracle at Delphi. But his proudest moment was escaping arrest for trespassing at a skyscraper under construction by fleeing from the LAPD on his bicycle.

Book Excerpt:

Jace turned to face Corona, who was still seated on the couch, sipping from his soda.
“What we need, Jace, is somebody who can direct a lot of people. Somebody who can get a lot of people on a bus, get them off a bus and get them into polling places. Somebody who can give each one of them a name and address to memorize and put in their pockets. You’ll have help, we’ll have a translator for you, for the ones who don’t understand English. In politics, this is called ‘Get Out the Vote.’ You’re going to be getting out the vote for Alex and the rest of the Democratic Party candidates on the ballot.”
“So what’s the problem?” Jace asked. “Why do you need me? Why do these people have to memorize names and addresses? I’m not following.”
“You’re going to get out a special kind of vote,” Corona said.
“What kind of vote is that?”
“The cemetery vote,” Alameda said.
Jace looked at him, still not understanding.
“Let me explain,” Corona said. “We registered a lot of Democrats. A lot more than there are, really. We are going to pick up day laborers, bring them to polling places, have them sign in with the names we give them and vote Democrat.”
“I know, I know,” Alameda said. “I know what you’re thinking. The same thing I’m thinking. This is wrong. This is voting fraud. This is illegal. This is unethical. This is immoral. And Jace, let me tell you something. I would never, ever do it in a million years – ” he paused.
He waited for Jace to ask him a question, but Jace just motioned for him to continue. So he did.
“– If I didn’t know the other side wasn’t doing the exact same thing, right now, as we speak.”
Corona smiled.
“I told you,” he said to Jace. “I told you he could answer.”
“Look, Jace,” Alameda said. “The politicians who run this place, the Anglos – they’re out for themselves. The guy in the Assembly seat now, he’s retiring. You know what he’s done for the community over the past twenty years he’s been in office. Nada. Nothing. Goose egg. Zero. This guy, he got fixated on solar power. He’s been trying to pass laws on solar energy requirements for the state. He’s been trying to set up solar panels in state buildings. Jace, you know what it’s like here when it rains? The kids walk to school ankle deep in mud. A lot of the streets here aren’t paved. Residential streets. At the end of the 20th century. In California. Right here. We’ve been fighting this guy to help us get funds for street work for twenty years. He gets money for solar energy projects. Even some of this guy’s Anglo friends, the people at City Hall, tell him: Hey, stop spending so much of your time on solar energy. Get your streets paved first, pal. But he doesn’t listen. He doesn’t listen to us. He doesn’t even listen to his friends. The other guy running, Denton, he’s just like him. He’s worse. He won’t do anything for the community. Denton isn’t about helping people. Denton is about Denton. I have to ask myself, Jace: Do I want to win this election or do I want to lose? And if I want to win, I need the cemetery vote.”
Alameda got up, walked around his desk and sat in a chair next to Jace, where Jace could see his face. He looked Jace in the eyes and finished his thought.
“So I need you, Jace,” he said. “I need your help. Joe needs your help. The kids who walk to school ankle-deep in the mud need your help. All the people of San Perdito need you, Jace. Eighty years ago, that woman appeared to my great-grandmother Olivia for a reason. She gave my great-grandfather Alejandro – my namesake – a fortune for a reason. That’s why I believe the treasure was given to my family. So that I could go to law school. So that I could help Joe. So that Joe could help me. So that our people can live better. I’m asking you Jace for your help. And I’ll pay you fairly.”
“How could I say no to all that? But – how much is fairly?”
“Ten thousand?” Corona asked.
“That’s plenty fair.”
“So you’ll help?” Alameda said. “Good.”
His work was done. He got up and walked back behind his desk and sat down in his office chair again.
“I’ll call you, Jace,” Corona told him, standing up. “Oh, and ...”
“Yes?” Jace said.
“Just so you know, if the press does come and ask about this, or law enforcement ...”
“Alameda? Corona? Never heard of  ’em. I was surfin’ at Zuma.”
“Good, good,” Corona laughed and turned to Alameda. “See? See? I told you this was the guy.” Then he turned back to Jace.
“But just in case, you should know, if you have to say something, and who knows, maybe even if you don’t want to, it comes to a point where you have to ...”
 Jace didn’t know if a threat was coming.
“Just so you know, we will, uh, question your credibility. Just so you know.”
So that was it, Jace thought to himself. It turns out “unemployed drug dealer” was the perfect qualification for this job. They were looking for someone whose testimony could be easily impeached.