Local authors master diverse genres

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Dinah Rokach

The National Capital region is in the news as the focus of politics, diplomacy and world events. It is also the home of talented writers.

Be it a guidebook to the streets of Georgetown, a thriller about murder and mayhem in and around the Potomac, or a love story set in a suburban retirement home, you’re sure to enjoy reading about the familiar locales that serve as the backdrop of these diverse books.

Georgetown has been in the headlines since the Kennedy administration as a trendy neighborhood where politics and high society mingle. However, as A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set attests, major players in national and world politics have made Georgetown their home as early as the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt.

A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set by Rick Massimo, photography by Missy Janes, 
168 pages, Lyons Press, hardcover, 2016.

Rick Massimo, a resident of Washington, D.C. and a writer and editor at news radio station WTOP, provides a descriptive chapter for each of the 30-plus former homes of politicians, statesmen, reporters, opinion makers and headliners who resided in the secluded streets of the neighborhood.

He thoughtfully includes a map to guide readers through the maze of imposing but anonymous structures that line the streets of residential Georgetown off the path of the busy thoroughfares.

Missy Janes, a professional photographer who lives in Georgetown and Middleburg, Va., provides color photographs of the exteriors of these past homes of the powerful and famous.                          

This informative and highly readable baedeker describes the parties, brunches and weekly get-togethers where the powerful met to exchange gossip and broker political deals over food and drinks.

In addition to the homes, three eateries that played a part in local lore are included in the compilation. Book in hand, you can leisurely walk the eleven square blocks to see these stately residences and learn the history behind their facades.

We may not get a glimpse of the interiors, but we do learn the details of the life stories of those who lived there and their impact on history. The homes described include those of Eric Sevareid, Katharine Graham, Felix Frankfurter, Arthur Schlesinger, Drew Pearson, Ben Bradlee — names that once carried great weight around town but have faded in the nation’s consciousness. It’s good to read about them once again.

The fast paced page-turner Daingerfield Island is a spy thriller with all the elements of that genre. It’s a riveting read, replete with dead bodies, shootings, a terrorist plot, car chases and pileups, disgruntled exes, cover-ups, courtroom drama, police and investigatory double dealings, and a denouement at the airport with authorities in pursuit of a fleeing suspect.

Daingerfield Island by John Adam Wasowicz, 234 pages, BrickHouse Books softcover, 2017.

The plot picks up steam as the mystery deepens and the characters are fleshed out as the story unfolds. Author John Wasowicz, a resident of Fairfax County, Va., uses his familiarity with the local geography to great effect in his storytelling. His more than three decades as a practicing attorney lend credence to the plot lines.

Personal grudges, betrayals, ruthlessness and hypocrisy are described with great panache and, given the nature of recent headlines, these duplicitous dealings don’t seem that far-fetched. The villains are more than overshadowed by the good guys and gals, at least some of whom reach the end of the book alive as well as vindicated.

You’ll have trouble putting this book down between chapters, so plan on reading it in one sitting. Time will fly by as you follow the twists and turns of the ingenious tale.

Mollee Kruger paints in words a portrait of the assorted personalities who live in a kosher nursing home — their interactions, foibles and pet peeves. She depicts the feisty and, at times, contentious interactions among the residents who share the last chapter of their lives together unwittingly and, in some cases, unwillingly.

The Swift Seasons reminds us, however, that where there is life, there is hope. Kruger lovingly and with great sensitivity describes the infirm, the elderly surviving spouses, the lonely and the forgotten who make the SVM Retirement Home the last stop on their life’s journey. All this would make for somber reading if not for the author’s humor, and the story she expertly interweaves of the love that develops between strangers who meet there.

The Swift Seasons by Mollee Kruger,
270 pages, Maryben Books, softcover, 2016.

An accomplished poet, journalist, author and graduate of the University of Maryland, Mollee Kruger lives in a retirement home in Maryland. The characters in The Swift Seasons are most likely based on her fellow residents. One can only imagine them searching the book to find themselves portrayed among the fictional characters.

Through her putting to words her keen powers of observation, we readers are fortunate and greatly enriched. We have been given an insider’s look into a world that exists in the shadows of our society, which is so obsessively focused on the culture of youth.