Pieces of Wood
Reviewed By: Susan Keefe
Susan Keefe reviews and promotes poetry, fiction and non-fiction, and is also author of the Toby's Tails series of children's books.
This book took me back to my childhood and my father reading extracts of the atrocities carried out by the Nazi against the Jews in the WWII concentration camps. These terrible things are well documented, held up as they should be as an example to the world of the terrible injustices suffered by helpless people at the command of a cruel dictator. Yet, in the first few pages of this book I discovered another, unknown, yet horrific act of evil which was carried out in the Mariana Archipelago. There five-thousand women and young boys were brought to be burnt alive in the Shinagawa Manufacturing company’s ovens, built on site by The Imperial Japanese Army.
It was July 4th 1944 when the then 27 year-old Marine Corps Captain Frank Clifford smelt gaseous fumes and went to investigate….What he saw that day was to live with him for the rest of his life, and his actions that day were set to have a marked effect on the lives of those involved, their offspring, and impacted on the lives of many, decades later.
Whilst Hitler’s aim was land acquisition, the Japanese wanted to rid the world of everyone who wasn’t Japanese, and see Emperor Hirohito and his heirs seated on the Throne of the Chrysanthemum, as rulers of the world! The Japanese scientists had been working germ warfare for years, and Dr. General Ishii Shiro was already experimenting, using prisoners as Guinea pigs…
However, this was years ago. This story is set in1978 Chicago, where the FBI’s first female Special Agent, Michaelene (Mike) Westgate has been called to investigate a series of killings.
As the death toll rises, the public are getting scared. Michaelene and fellow agent Steve Donaldson are desperate for answers. When ‘their own’ begin to be targets they suddenly realise that there may be more than one killer, a scorpion and a frog. If this is the case, what is the link between them, and what is their motive?
As the plot thickens in this incredibly clever thriller, the reader finds themselves learning fascinating snippets about Japanese history, as they are drawn into the warped psyche of two men, linked, and driven by powerful beliefs.
The author of this book is a very successful businessman and investment banker who established The Moore Financial Group, which he sold aged 45 years. He went on to fulfil his life-long passion which is to bring closure to the families of America’s MIA. His non-profit organisation Moore’s Marauders continue on their global mission to locate the remains of America’s fallen.
This book is not only a great thriller, it is also, and I think more importantly, a story which should be told. At the end of the book there are graphic photos, information, and statements about the ovens. The author was once asked: “Why am I the one person in the world best suited to tell this story? He said, the answer is easy. Simply because in June of 1998, I was perhaps, the only living being to unwittingly crawl into the human incinerators featured in this novel since they were last in use on July 3rd, 1945.” What more powerful reason could there be?
I thank God that there are people like the author, people who are brave enough to speak for those who no longer can, like the poor victims, the Japanese cruelly called “Pieces of Wood.”
Author’s Website: https://kennethjamesmoore.com/