I have to admit that I love horses although I don’t ride and am not what you would consider a ‘horse person’. I think they are beautiful animals and sometimes watch westerns more for the horses than for the cowboys. This little book was so touching, about the trainer, Hirsch Jacobs, and his ability to see in many horses, and in Stymie in particular, the problems that were preventing them from being successful on the track. Jacobs, while still a young boy trained racing pigeons from his rooftop but once he was introduced to horses, he never looked back. His theory that ‘a horse wants to run’ was proven over and over again as he became one of the most successful horse trainers of the twentieth century. Until I picked up this book I had not heard of him or Stymie but to those who followed racing at the time, he was a household name. ‘Out of the Clouds’ refers to Stymie’s preferred racing method, which was to come from behind, out of the clouds of dust kicked up by the horses ahead of him. I really enjoyed this book, a heartwarming story.
It took me several weeks to read this book; it is not one to pick up lightly. At times I wondered if I would finish it, but the story is so engaging, even if about a topic that you might not consider worthy of the time invested. The author’s take on this historical man is compelling even if it places him front and center as a leading cause of the reformation. I’ll let you be the judge of how much influence he has had. A couple of things that stand out in the story are the importance of the role which the newly invented printing press played in the battle between the Catholic church and the newly formed ‘Protestants’, and the way in which the combatants took years, literally, years, to debate back and forth these ideas that Luther posted on the church door. A comprehensive look at a man who has made a tremendous impact on the modern world, well worth the read.
Dr. Trajan Jones, psychological profiler
Dr. Michael Li, trace evidence expert
Clarissa Jones, Trajan’s great aunt
Marcianna, Trajan’s ‘wild African dog’, which is another name for a cheetah
Lucas, Derek and Amber, locals whose parents have left them for a better life
I’m not really sure if there’s such a place as Surrender, New York, or if there is, it is anything like the town described in this novel. There, Dr. Trajan Jones, a psychological profiler and Dr. Mike Li, a trace evidence expert, are called in to assist in what looks like a murder investigation. A ‘throwaway’ child’s body is discovered in an abandoned house, but the doctors are not convinced that it was murder. A couple of local law enforcement officers call in the doctors because they have doubts about the official cause of death too. Is it a suicide? Or is it murder. Dr. Jones and Dr. Li had illustrious careers in New York City before running afoul of some big time politicians who effectively ended their careers in forensics in the big city. They have retreated to Aunt Clarissa’s dairy farm in upstate New York and there they teach online courses in criminal profiling. They set up shop in an old war plane housed in a hangar that belonged to Trajan Jones’ grandfather. A nearby enclosure houses Dr. Jones’ rescued cheetah, Marcianna who endured torture and abuse at a now-defunct petting zoo. They keep themselves to themselves but soon become involved with a couple of live throwaway children, Lucas and Derek. When Lucas’ parents up and left he went to live with his blind older sister, Ambyr. Later on she took in his friend Derek and became the boys guardian. The doctors begin to realize that there’s something of an epidemic of throwaway children. They are left behind when their parents, many of whom become addicted to drugs after failing to find sustainable work in the area, leave for warmer climes. When the team is called in they soon realize that this is not the first death, but one in a string of deaths of these unfortunate young kids. The doctors recruit Lucas and Derek to try to find out about other abandoned kids at their school in hopes that some questions that came about as a result of their highly professional forensic skills have uncovered. Trajan and Mike come to believe that the string of deaths are suicides, that the children have been lured to New York City by someone, or a group of someones, and that only after they make the trip do they return to upstate New York and end their lives.
The tale is fairly long and complex but well worth the read. No easy solutions are found in Surrender, New York.