Monday, October 8, 2012

A warm welcome to author R.K. Price and his guest post about his book, The Thunderbird Conspiracy!
The fiftieth anniversary of the tragic death of President John F. Kennedy quickly approaches. When it arrives the nation will pause to honor a fallen hero. Camelot will live for an instant and die once again on the streets of Dallas.  There will be no celebration.  It will be a somber affair, and a new generation of Americans will join their parents and grandparents in reliving those horrifying days and tearful nights of November, 1963, mourning the death of their youthful leader. His image is frozen in time. The gunshots ringing out. Besides the sorrowful reminiscing the most notorious crime of the twentieth century will once more be examined, yet remain the greatest mystery of that millennium. Perhaps the greatest mystery ever. Opinions on the topic will run the gamut, dominating the airwaves, internet and print media. Accomplished scholars will weigh in; crime writers will have a field day; bloggers will pontificate, and broadcasters will bloviate.  The story will never go away.  It is engrained in the American psyche.
Stephen King’s novel 11-23-63 takes his readers in one direction.  Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Kennedy in another. Both are fine works, fun to read and will add to the debate helping us ponder the “what if’s.”  What if JFK had lived? What if Lee Harvey Oswald had missed or changed his mind?  What if someone had spotted him with his rifle and called police?  What if Oswald had lived? And talked. Why did his accomplices turn against him?  Including his killer Jack Ruby.
And what if these great writers knew about Robert Kaye, or Bud Carlson?  If they had their tales may have taken on a whole new theme.
The Thunderbird Conspiracy, my second historical novel, brings these truly remarkable and absolutely factual characters to life and for the first time places them dead center in the Kennedy chronicle.  Robert Kaye, a Hungarian freedom fighter claimed he knew and collaborated with JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Bud Carlson was a Nebraska farm boy and great admirer of President Kennedy. He was a true patriot who desperately wanted to believe his government’s hurried conclusion that Oswald had no accomplice. Yet his own harrowing experience, at the hands of his government created profound doubt in his mind, and it haunted him to his death. Thunderbird lays it all out, how these two men, one acting willfully, the other an unwitting victim, became immersed in America’s darkest days. This account of intrigue and murder was revealed to me on a wintry Colorado day about three weeks before the farm boy’s ravaged heart gave out.  Bud Carlson was my mother’s brother.

Thunderbird does not attempt to solve Kennedy’s murder. Far from it. It is neither a scholarly recitation nor another narrative citing events before and after the firing of those fatal gunshots.  Thunderbird does, however, present intriguing elements to this endless Shakespearean-like drama too big to ignore. These two men were never heard of or written about before. Until now. They were men of such divergent backgrounds that even their chance meeting shattered all odds. They were fascinating men, each in their own right, and the people around them, some who actually existed, others who are found in my imagination, bring color and perspective to those times and to the events that shaped the nation.  Thunderbird is a book of fiction, but it contains more truth than many would like to admit. 
In the book I go to great lengths to describe Bud Carlson as a man torn, twisted and often tortured by a failed business, a failed first marriage and the loss of his precious daughters during their formative years. Nevertheless he was a man of strength and character who stood tall during the most trying of times. He paid off his debts, established a prosperous business, found a happy marriage and made all of those around him whole, much to his own personal sacrifice. He was betrayed by Robert Kaye who betrayed many and was devastated by the implication that he may have innocently helped the greatest criminal of all time Lee Harvey Oswald carry out his diabolical deed.  Bud Carlson had his faults.  He was not a saint but he was a victim. And I loved him dearly.
Bud’s story is as equally compelling as Kaye’s, the man who came to America, starry eyed and full of promise, who was spun into a death spiral of monumental proportions, carrying many others with him. I do not like Robert Kaye, the conspirator, the traitor, the demon.  Yet his wanton acts, described to me by my uncle on his death bed, are incredibly fascinating, intriguing and heartbreaking.  What compelled this man to alter his life and perhaps help alter the course of history?  I tell the tale as best I can, filling in the gaps Bud did not know but only speculated about.  I imagine many of the people who might have had a hand in shaping Robert Kaye into the conspirator he apparently became.  There is Fodor his fascist father whose heart was stone and his mind warped by death, much at his own hand.  Then there is Deborah who manipulated Robert into taking up her ominous cause, and others like Clarence whose sage advice Robert ignored to his peril.  They all play important roles on the stage set before you.
Until the National Archives finally released secret FBI and Secret Service files on Robert Kaye my story laid dormant.  It was then, in 2008, and the unexpected revelation of the Robert Kaye dossier that I began to write.  I truly believed my uncle’s telling, but I was a journalist and a pretty darn good one at that.  I needed collaboration so I waited and searched for it for thirty-seven years.  I waited to describe the Hungarian freedom fighter, wounded in the bloody 1956 uprising against the Soviets, who came to New Orleans seeking solace and asylum only to find wickedness among those who conspired to kill a President.  A gullible, selfish, confused man easily recruited by the allure of sex, money, power and standing among a group hell-bent on their murderous mission.  He made his way to Denver where he met Bud Carlson and later a man named Lee Harvey Oswald. The files speak for themselves.
I waited to tell how this man shattered the innocent, yet sorrowful life of my uncle who longed for peace and tranquility after years of heartbreak and personal loss.  Their paths crossed when Bud Carlson hired Robert Kaye and a bond was forged between them. I write that Bud, too, was duped by the conniving Kaye, one of many aliases the Kennedy investigators later discovered.  Bud trusted the talented tradesman but soon grew tired and wary of his radical views and expressed hatred for America’s leaders at the time.  Bud became suspicious but never thought for a moment his employee ever harbored such ominous motives.
Kaye vanished mere weeks before the Assassination leaving a wife and child behind. Like the good man he was Bud stepped in to help, giving the abandoned pair hope and financial support to await his return. Kaye has never been seen since. 
I tell how hours after the President’s death Bud was arrested for questioning and spent days under intense interrogation. What linked the two and forced Bud to his knees in handcuffs was a piece of evidence somehow lost or possibly ignored in America’s rush to judgment.  That evidence, I reveal, was a pair of binoculars given to Kaye by Bud Carlson as a birthday gift. 
This same modern spyglass was found in Oswald’s apartment on the day of the Assassination. To my knowledge I write not once in all the millions of documents produced on Kennedy’s killing have binoculars in Oswald’s possession ever been disclosed.  But my uncle said they were his gift to Kaye, and years later, a friendly G-man confirmed the shocking truth. For Bud that inadvertent connection led to terrifying days that turned into years of unwarranted suspicion and harassment at the hands of a government he respected and loved.  Bud was betrayed by Robert Kaye but more hurtful was the betrayal by his nation which, through its own protectors, victimized Bud Carlson as the one innocent participant in the whole sordid affair.
Bud Carlson is dead.  Robert Kaye may not be.  If he is alive let him come forward to confess and finally free Bud Carlson to rest in peace. The captivating tale of Robert Kaye and Bud Carlson and the parts they played in JFK’s death will assume a prominent position on the bookshelves and in the virtual libraries of America’s readers for many years to come.
Certainly that is my hope.
Perhaps Mr. King or Mr. O’Reilly should consider a sequel now that they know.
By the way, that is the hood of a vintage 1963 Black Ford Thunderbird Convertible on the cover. Once you’ve read The Thunderbird Conspiracy  you will understand why this classic automobile is so prominently displayed.

Author Bio:

R.K. Price is a Colorado native. He lived in Pueblo for a number of years, earning his way through college as a radio/television and newspaper reporter. He moved north to Denver in the mid 70s, joining a major advertising/public relations firm as a writer, producer and press agent. Later, he formed his own media relations and political consulting firm. He spent the early 1980s in Washington D.C. actively involved in national politics, and returned to Denver in the mid 80s to become an investment and mortgage banker -- a profession he remains in today. He now lives in Alexandria, VA with his wife Janet and daughter Sara.

1 comment:

  1. The Thunderbird Conspiracy is a spell binding read! Love your blogspot Amy.