Beyond the Tolbooth: A short story of Human Resilience by Stephen Parkes Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Stephen Parkes once again takes readers on a journey through one of the strangest 18th century cases you’ll ever read about in the short story, “Beyond the Tolbooth”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

A short story of human resilience. 18th-century Margaret Dickson hangs for her crimes and lives to tell about it.

The Review

What fascinated me about this story was the way the author delved into the tricky notion that not all history is set in stone. Exploring Margaret’s story, readers will instantly see the way rumors and half-truths led to the tragic circumstances of Margaret being sent to prison and later executed for them, only to survive the ordeal. It’s really a telling story, as back then a woman could be imprisoned and even executed for something as simple as concealing a pregnancy. The truth behind her story is not fully realized, and the author pinpoints these inaccuracies and allows readers to come to their own determination about who Margaret was and whether or not she truly was guilty.

The Verdict

A unique story of fighting for the truth, pinpointing historical fact from assumption, and the shocking reality that nothing is foolproof in the criminal justice system, and Margaret is one of the few people to have ever survived the most popular form of execution, a public hanging. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of Beyond the Tolbooth by Stephen Parkes today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Stephen Parkes (1960 – ) was born in Detroit, Michigan. Stephen earned a Juris Doctorate from Mississippi College School of law and a Ranger tab from the U.S. Army. He is a former Weapons platoon leader with the 2d Ranger battalion. He is one of very few individuals to experience a long-drop hanging (in his case more than eight feet) and live to tell about it. He was twice convicted of robbery with a deadly weapon, a knife, and spent four and one-half years in federal prison and county lock-ups. Stephen was certified by the State of Florida as a habitual violent felony offender in 2008. These days, Stephen is an honorable man and husband. These days, Stephen lives free and prospers.

https://amzn.to/2TXQFtx

Advertisements

The Donut Hypothesis: A Cop. A Criminal. And Their Donuts by Stephen Parkes Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

In a unique origin story, author Stephen Parkes takes readers on an informative and humorous journey to discover the history behind the preconception regarding police officers and a certain breakfast pastry in “The Donut Hypothesis”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

A short story about a cop, a criminal and their donuts.

The Review

In just a couple of pages, (5 to be exact), the author explores the secret history of the donut, from it’s original name that never stuck, to the way it was incorporated into the image of police officers. What’s most fascinating about this story is that the author takes such a simple and strange story concept, and in just a few pages makes it entertaining and fascinating all at once. Readers won’t be able to help being intrigued and by the books end, will find themselves chuckling as they read the author’s final words.

The Verdict

While a short read, the story itself was unique and very entertaining. A fun story that delves into one of the criminal justice systems most underrated secret histories, readers will instantly fall in love with this story. If you haven’t yet, grab your copy of Stephen Parkes short story “The Donut Hypothesis” today!

Rating: 8/10

About the Author

Stephen Parkes (1960 – ) was born in Detroit, Michigan. Stephen earned a Juris Doctorate from Mississippi College School of law and a Ranger tab from the U.S. Army. He is a former Weapons platoon leader with the 2d Ranger battalion. He is one of very few individuals to experience a long-drop hanging (in his case more than eight feet) and live to tell about it. He was twice convicted of robbery with a deadly weapon, a knife, and spent four and one-half years in federal prison and county lock-ups. Stephen was certified by the State of Florida as a habitual violent felony offender in 2008. These days, Stephen is an honorable man and husband. These days, Stephen lives free and prospers.

https://amzn.to/2SLg392

The Devil’s Agent: A Most Unusual Story of Crime and Punishment by Stephen Parkes Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Stephen Parkes takes readers into one of the 18th century’s strangest executions to ever occur in the justice system in the short biography, “The Devil’s Agent”. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

A short story of 18th-century crime and capital punishment. William Duell lives and dies and lives again.

The Review

In just a few pages, (23 pages total), the author brings readers one of the most vile criminals and one of the most fascinating trial and punishment phases within the 18th century. The author goes into detail regarding the crime and the long process inside prison, most notably death row, as well as the process a criminal goes through traveling from prison to the gallows for public executions. 

What makes this story so unique however is the way the story ends, which will have the reader in shock as they discover one of the strangest cases of capitol punishment gone wrong. It’s a vivid and informative short read, and packs quite a punch.

The Verdict

Overall this is a fantastic short story that fans of the true crime and biography genre will thoroughly enjoy. A story of the horrors inflicted by the worst of society, and the inescapable truth that sometimes things don’t always go according to plan, no matter how final they may seem. If you enjoy true crime stories then pick up your copy of The Devil’s Agent by Stephen Parkes today. 

Rating: 10/10

About the Author

Stephen Parkes (1960 – ) was born in Detroit, Michigan. Stephen earned a Juris Doctorate from Mississippi College School of law and a Ranger tab from the U.S. Army. He is a former Weapons platoon leader with the 2d Ranger battalion. He is one of very few individuals to experience a long-drop hanging (in his case more than eight feet) and live to tell about it. He was twice convicted of robbery with a deadly weapon, a knife, and spent four and one-half years in federal prison and county lock-ups. Stephen was certified by the State of Florida as a habitual violent felony offender in 2008. These days, Stephen is an honorable man and husband. These days, Stephen lives free and prospers.

https://amzn.to/2V8Shkg

Interview with Author Stephen Parkes

1.Tell us a little about yourself. How did you get into writing?

These days my wife and I live on a small hobby farm/ranch in rural South Dakota. It’s a very quiet place and my closest neighbors are miles away. We have about 12 acres in alphalfa and grass and we rescue animals of all sizes and shapes, turning some of the critters over to an agency that specializes in placing abandoned animals in forever homes across the upper mid-west.

We do keep some of the animals we find, though. Presently, we have fourteen pets including dogs, cats, horses and cows.

I’ve been writing most of my adult life. I earned a law degree in 1994. That education forced me to become a researcher and a writer. The work which followed that education just made my skills better.

Writing nonfiction seemed a natural fit with the types of writing I had long been doing.

2. What inspired you to write your book(s)?

I like to tell stories and I had a couple of good stories to tell. Writing books fulfills this desire of mine.

3. What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book(s)?

The two companion books, The Soldier and On A Cold Day In Hell, ultimately, lead to a single conclusion, that other people are capable of great acts of compassion and charity for even the least among us.

Same goes for a couple of short stories I wrote, Beyond The Tolbooth and The Devil’s Agent.

4. What drew you into nonfiction?

I find reality far more interesting than worlds imagined.

30% Off Select Happy Socks

5. What is one of the biggest issues facing prisoners and the criminal justice system today in your opinion?

The U.S. Department of Justice informs that the U.S. recidivism rate, the rate at which criminals re-offend following their release from custody, is 77%. In other words, more than three-quarters of all criminals are re-arrested for a new crime less than five years following their release. This is appalling, and considering that crime is a choice, leads to the inescapable conclusion that the single biggest issue facing prisoners today is their inability to stop committing crimes. With exceptions made for the chronic emotionally and mentally disturbed, and casting aside ignorant notions concerning wealth, education, skin color, ethnicity, business acumen, or privilege, this alarming statistic is occasioned universally by a criminal’s apparent lack of conscience. They simply do not care. Unless criminals grow a conscience while they are in prison, they are coming back. And this regardless of wealth, education, skin color, ethnicity, business acumen, or privilege.

Did you know that there are prison programs that match convicts with rescue animals? Did you know that some of these programs maintain a zero% recidivism rate?

The problems governing federal and state penal institutions are many, including, but not limited to, overcrowding, lack of financial resources and lack of empathy training.

6. What social media site has been most helpful in developing your readership?

I do not use, nor do I find it desirable or necessary to use social media for any aspect of my personal or business life. I have zero social media footprint.

7. What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting out authors out there?

If you’re going to write nonfiction, before you begin you must become a subject matter expert.

8. What does the future hold for you?

Hope.

About the Author

Stephen Parkes (1960 – ) was born in Detroit, Michigan. Stephen earned a Juris Doctorate from Mississippi College School of law and a Ranger tab from the U.S. Army. He is a former Weapons platoon leader with the 2d Ranger battalion. He is one of very few individuals to experience a long-drop hanging (in his case more than eight feet) and live to tell about it. He was twice convicted of robbery with a deadly weapon, a knife, and spent four and one-half years in federal prison and county lock-ups. Stephen was certified by the State of Florida as a habitual violent felony offender in 2008. These days, Stephen is an honorable man and husband. These days, Stephen lives free and prospers.

On A Cold Day In Hell: A Legal Thriller Like No Other by Stephen Parkes Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Readers get a dark, heartbreaking and emotional roller coaster of a story as the man readers met in The Soldier faces a criminal trial for a crime he committed while in the throws of addiction, and in the process highlights some of our world’s most difficult and inescapable truths in author Stephen Parkes novel “On A Cold Day In Hell: A Legal Thriller Like No Other”. Here is the synopsis. 

The Synopsis

The stakes couldn’t be any higher. Stephen Parkes, a former Airborne Ranger and law school graduate, has been charged with a brutal crime. A career prosecutor has made him an offer of thirty years in return for a guilty plea. He has a hanging judge and his own public defender wants him to die in prison. The circumstances have never been grimmer.

So, he decides to take matters into his own hands. He drops more than eight feet into a noose. His heart stops beating. His lungs stop breathing. 

But, somehow, Stephen Parkes lives. 

Fresh off his own gallows, his problems are only beginning. Parkes is as guilty as sin. The case against him is perfect. Undeterred, Parkes fights back, hoping to be set free. The odds against him are impossible.

Set against a background of horrid child abuse, pitiful drug addiction, and brutal crimes, On A Cold Day In Hell provides a scathing indictment of the American judicial system, demonstrates the emptiness of mandatory minimum sentencing, and gives a first-hand look at the consequences of the unthinking cruelty payed out to a minor child at the hands of a Catholic priest. 

Part jailhouse lawyer, part convict and all human, Stephen Parkes stands his ground and makes his own case for freedom, which can only be found On A Cold Day In Hell.

The Review

This was a dark look into the troubled life of Stephen Parkes. Written both eloquently and with wit, the author brings readers into the harsh reality of his life, which many across the world can relate to. A history of abuse, drug addiction and mental health problems plague this man, which turns him to a life of crime. While readers will be able to see that the crimes themselves were inexcusable, the author’s first hand account and painful ordeal showcases a true injustice in our society. Rather than help those suffering with addiction or mental health, it is more common to just throw them in jail with no means of helping or changing their lives around for the better. It showcases a never ending system of violence, abuse and addiction both within and outside of the criminal justice system.

It was interesting to see the perspective of the man underneath the criminal persona given to him in life. A highly intelligent man with a knowledge of the law himself and a former Army Ranger, the hardships and mental strain of childhood trauma and the resulting mental health problems that arose showcase a man divided between himself and the addict that took over his life. It’s a story of fighting for the truth and finding ways to help those who suffer rather than punish and then throw away, forgotten and abandoned as they were in life.

The Verdict

This was a powerful read that any true crime, non fiction and criminal justice/mental health advocate would be interested in. With bits of humor, a use of imagery that really brings the cold reality of life in prison and the affects of abuse/addiction on anyone in this world, and a compelling story that also touches on the struggle with suicidial thoughts that often plague those who have lost all hope, and the need to help those going through that kind of pain. It’s an emotional and heart pounding read that you should check out for yourself, so be sure to read On A Cold Day In Hell: A Legal Thriller Like No Other” by Stephen Parkes today.

Rating: 10/10

The Soldier: An Airborne Ranger’s Fall From Grace by Stephen Parkes Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Stephen Parkes takes readers on a grueling, personal journey through his training with the US Army Rangers and the affect it had on his life going forward in the novel, “The Soldier: An Airborne Ranger’s Fall From Grace”. Here is the synopsis:

The Synopsis

2LT Stephen Parkes is about to enroll in a soldier’s school. Between 1977 and 1995 its syllabus killed nine men. Graduation is anything but certain. He grabs his rifle and engages the most brutal fifty-six days of his young life; controlled starvation and sleep deprivation, a hundred pound rucksack and a five hundred mile walk. By parachute, helicopter or fast-moving jet, it’s a character defining journey through dense mountain forests and high desert plains, neck deep in salt water marshes and soaked to the bone in cold open seas. It’s July 1st 1986, welcome to Ranger school. 

On the other side of the world a cold war rages. Minefields, Morlocks and a long way from home, follow Lt. Parkes as he walks combat patrols inside the Korean demilitarized zone. The rules governing the Joint Security Area are clear, but Lt. Parkes has orders to follow. Join him as he breaks every United Nations regulation in the book and invades Panmunjom with a platoon of soldiers packing heavy weapons. From here, Parkes’ character flaws catch up and events grow complicated, grim and more dangerous. 

Recruited into the 75th Ranger regiment, 1LT Parkes arrives at Ft. Benning and learns everything there is to know about mortars, and lies. He gets honest and makes promises. He exits Jumpmaster school with a clean slate bound for the great Northwest and duty with the 2nd Ranger battalion and men of unparalleled principal. Meet Lieutenant Pete, a young officer of uncompromising bearing and unbreakable constitution, and Captain Mike, a soldier destined for greatness on the world’s stage, and LG, perhaps the most dedicated Ranger of all times. But here Parkes does not belong.

The promises he made are broken. His perception of self barely rises to worthless. He seeks that which he thinks he deserves … ugliness. Five years soldiering had seen hardship and risk, but no one had actually fired a weapon at him. All that’s about to change.

The Review

This was a truly gripping story to read. This memoir and true crime style novel focuses on the intense physical and mental toll training in the US Army Rangers can have on an individual. Not only will readers see through the author’s eyes how painful and difficult the journey can be, (from forcing trainees to strip any ranks they’ve earned from their military clothing, throwing mock grenades into cabins, etc), but readers will also see the great deal of mathematics, science and physicality that these officers in training must go through when preparing for their future missions and jumps from high altitudes. 

After leaving school behind, readers are taken to the harsh and tense area between North and South Korea, and the infamous DMZ. Seeing the author’s struggle through addiction while undergoing the grueling training was tough, but also getting to see through the author’s eyes the true nature of military life and the intensity of missions that they undertake was just as exhausting and emotionally driven as anything else. This is the perfect read to showcase the struggles and difficulties military training, and in particular Army Ranger training, can have on individuals and how it affects their lives after service. 

The Verdict

This is a must read novel. The author’s personal journey highlights this struggle in a powerful way. While a short read, hearing the author’s tale and getting a glimpse into the life an an Army Ranger was eye opening to say the least. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of “The Soldier” by Stephen Parkes today!

Rating: 10/10