The Stranger is a short read about a woman named Julie Williams, the owner of Uncommon Grounds coffee shop, the wife of a loving man and two grown children who are doing well for themselves. Julie’s life is stable and put together and everything seems fine except the feelings Julie has of her mother.
Margie Smith has just passed and there are only a few people at her funeral. As the minister gives his words, it becomes apparent that both Julie and her husband did not like Margie. She is remembered as a mean woman who cared about only herself. Not only does Julie and Mark feel this way, but even Stella Green, the nurse who worked for Margie, found the woman difficult. It seems Margie was just a mean woman and I enjoyed trying to figure out why as the author gave bits and pieces of her persona. Meanwhile, someone is watching as Julie leaves the cemetery and he seems to have just as much disdain for Margie as she does.
Since the book is short I’ll leave it here. It’s a fast paced read and I enjoyed trying to figure out who The Stranger was following Julie. I thought the feelings she had toward her mother started to get a tad repetitive and Julie was starting to get annoying with it. I just wanted her to let it go because it didn’t seem that deep. However, this too plays into the mysterious feel of the novel. Who was Margie Smith really?
I’m starting to really enjoy these psychological reads and was excited to have caught onto The Stranger’s identity ahead of time which I gave myself cool points for. (It was like a mental game lol) The Stranger is a tad predictable for me personally and I wanted more on Julie’s mother. However, an overall enjoyable read. You can’t go wrong with a book that’s short, well written and to the point.
I’m not so sure we should call this a fun “Fact” Friday. It’s more like a Black History Fun Mystery Friday. Who wants to play? Get your magnifying glasses out, you’re gonna need them!
What if you were arrested and brought into jail, but upon entering were told that you had already been there? In fact, you were arrested before. “No I wasn’t,” you’d most likely say. The clerk will proceed to show you pictures of yourself. “Wow,” you think. “That’s my picture but I’ve never seen it before.”
That is what happened to Will West and William West. I admit this story is still controversial. Were they twins or not? I cannot say for sure myself. As a twin, naturally this story fascinates me. Was it a trick? Was it real? Did something supernatural take place? Maybe one man went back in time? Whatever happened, we have a real doppelganger situation on our hands (What’s a doppelganger? I take it you don’t watch Flash the TV show. A doppelganger is the version of you that exists in another timeline). I’m not joking. I think there really was something supernatural going on.
According to the story, Will West (or Will Tell, certain sources give different last names. Most of them use West so I will in this article) was arrested in 1903 and sent to the Leavenworth Penitentiary in Kansas. Back then they used a facial recognition system called The Bertillon System. The Bertillon System is a system developed by Alphonse Bertillon, a French criminologist who first developed the system of physical measurements of body parts, especially components of the head and face, to produce a detailed description of an individual. Invented in 1879, the system became known as the Bertillon system and gained acceptance as a reliable method of criminal investigation, though there were complaints that the system was flawed. The West case proved that it was in 1903 when two unrelated black men would inadvertently inspire the use of a different system, or at least that’s what is documented.
Will walked into Leavenworth in 1903 and caused the Clerk to double check his records. He was adamant that he’d seen this man before. In fact, not only did he see him before but it was two long years ago. Yes, he is sure of it. He had already arrested the man standing in front of him and his name was William West.
Using the Bertillon System would not help in this case, as the men had the same measurements and were identical in appearance. Let us imagine what the conversation was like. The clerk, whose name was McClaughty, pulls out Williams records, flips through them and looks up at Will. His mouth is twisted, his brow carving deep lines in his head. He looks away, staring at the files in front of him and then back up at Will.
“So, what you’re saying is that this ain’t you?”
The man turns the files around to show a photo of what looks to be the man in front of him.
Will’s eyes buck but he shakes his head.
“No. I mean, that’s my picture but I don’t know where you got it from. I have never been here before.”
The Clerk did more searching and discovered that a William West was arrested two years ago for murder and that Will was a different person altogether. The incident caused the move from The Bertillon System to that of fingerprinting in criminal cases. Or at least the start of its use in the U.S. Fingerprinting had been used before in other parts of the world. According to Google: “The English first began using fingerprints in July of 1858, when Sir William James Herschel, Chief Magistrate of the Hooghly district in Jungipoor, India, first used fingerprints on native contracts. (By the way, Twins have different fingerprints)
Here’s a side by side of Will and William:
Some sources say that the men really were Twins. If this is true, why would Will lie about it? I mean, he was being arrested. What would be the motive behind the twin’s actions? Did they commit a crime together and one just got caught later?
If you scroll up to the first photo of Will and then back to the profile of William, their heads are shaped differently. William’s lump is more pronounced and there’s more of a curve. William’s profile also shows that his cheeks are slightly more sunken in, which isn’t so in the first image. This would indeed show flaws in the Bertillon System, which gave the men the same measurements (but you can look at the back of their heads and see they are shaped differently). William is also wearing more of a frown than Will is. According to the story, William was arrested for murder two years earlier. By the look on his face, he appears to have been incarcerated longer. I won’t say that he did it because we are talking about 1903 here ( a time where black men were often accused of a murder they did not commit), but he does look to be more agitated than Will.
Will’s image is also lighter and that’s either a mole or ink above his lips and under the nose. Either way, it’s not in William’s photo. Neither is what looks to be a scar on William’s head present in Will’s picture. There’s enough evidence physically to see these may, in fact, be two different people. One thing’s for sure, these men look too much alike not to be twins, but who knows? Maybe Will is from a different timeline altogether or the men really were not related. After all, the truth is stranger than fiction.
Here’s a throwback for fun by the way. This is Tracey and me turning ten. I can’t use a recent picture because then it’ll be obvious. I have locs and she doesn’t.
Can you solve the mystery? Where’s EC? (Lol hee hee)
Title: A Tale of Three Cities Author: Alexander McCabe ISBN: 978-0-9940447-1-6 Release Date: November 2, 2015 Rating: 5/5
Advanced Review Copy Edition
*I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review*
“A Tale of Three Cities” is an amazing story involving two women who do not intimately know each other, but whose lives become connected in a horrific span of events that is sure to leave both women changed forever. While occupying the waiting room of a dental office, bank cashier Melissa Chisholm is reading a magazine when her attention is snagged by a missing persons headline accompanied by a photograph of a woman she is sure she knows. Enticed by the million dollar reward for any information in regard to a Kristy Bradley, Melissa sets out to redeem the much needed cash, being reassured that she does in fact know the woman who changed her name to Lady Penelope Munro. According to the article, the two love birds married out of High School and settled into a financially stable and happy life before Kristy was allegedly kidnapped by Anthony Di Silva, a mob boss masquerading as CEO of a Waste Management Company and currently serving 25 to life after 34 million dollars and Michael’s wife went missing. Now Melissa is flying from Glasgow Scotland to Harrison New York on a quest to assist Kristy’s poor husband in finding his long lost wife.
Sitting in her car outside of Michael’s front door, Melissa is unaware of the man behind the smile in the magazine. As she waits nervously for him to read the documents she slipped into his home and to listen to her message on his answering machine, she has no idea of the maniac she has just involved herself with. As she waits, watching Michael faint at the documents contents with streams of tears colliding down his face, Melissa doesn’t know about the secret hatred more so than love pulsating through his veins. When his true character is revealed, it made me think about the stigmas that still exist surrounding a woman’s submission, what it means to submit and how abusive men take advantage of women who do. Nonetheless, as Melissa waits, it will be a hard lesson for her in the end.
Meanwhile, in Invernesshire, Scotland, Zacchaeus is torn between his love for his girlfriend Penny and the anxiety of her acceptance of that love. Having inherited the large Auchtershinnan Estate, she’s a woman who is certainly in no need of financial assistance from a man and though they occupy their dream home and live a dream life, Z doesn’t know how to feel about this and wonders if the fortune diminishes his wife’s dependability on his authority as head of the household. Having invited his parents over to their castle of a home as a surprise to Z, Penny is a confident woman who may not need him as much as he would like to be needed while his mother advises that he should do away with his feelings concerning the outdated gender roles. But Z’s struggle with finances and gender roles will later become the least of his worries when Andy, the estate’s caretaker, comes barging through his bedroom door. To Z’s confusion, Andy reports to the couple that “THEY are here” and urges Penny and Z to dress quickly. As Penny cries her eyes out in the sheets only once drenched with passionate lovemaking, Z cannot understand what has happened to the beautiful moment just seconds passed, who THEY are or why Andy has just called his girlfriend Kristy.
I must say I was pleasantly surprised. I was not too excited when I discovered this book was 500 pages long and the cover did not excite me much either. However, McCabe has written an adventurous tale that will engage all of your senses. His attention to detail is remarkable and I found Z’s sense of humor hilarious at times. Not that his jokes were even that funny but the fact that they weren’t somehow made it funnier. Because of Z, I am now cautious of my usage of the word “however” when I can really just say “But”. On a serious note, I also enjoyed how the author displays Michael’s deranged demeanor against Melissa’s sympathy for his loss. Having lost her parents in a car wreck years ago, her loss drives the naivety and compassion she feels for a man who has seemingly, like her, lost everything. I also enjoyed the parallels between Melissa’s life and Kristy’s and like a single thread that weaves fabric together, the dynamics involving the two women brings it all in.
This book has a lot going on but I really like how the author tied everything together and it is a testament to his skill. What I enjoyed most is the similarities and comparisons he created between the characters which gave it a “six degrees of separation” type feel to it (that is everyone being connected somehow). No one in this story is insignificant to the plot. From the prominent characters we are immediately introduced to, to the police officer on the street, they all play a role in bringing it all together.
A Tale of Three Cities releases November 2, 2015. Please visit Alexander at his social networking sites and be sure to pick up this book! It is a must read. Though I read it already, I would love to still purchase the paperback for my collection when it releases.