Inspiration for Unfinished Business

Book Cover1968 was, for many of us, a year of lost innocence. In January the Viet Cong launched a devastating surprise attack on US and South Vietnamese forces in what became known as the Tet Offensive. Most of us who had come of age in the 50's and 60's still cherished the belief that America had never lost a war. The fact that a seemingly unsophisticated and poorly equipped enemy could wreak such havoc against clearly superior forces began to undermine our confidence in the ultimate outcome of the war. The next day an American photographer captured an image of a South Vietnamese general executing a Viet Cong prisoner.

On February 2 former Vice President Richard M. Nixon announced his candidacy for the White House. By March 12 disaffection with President Lyndon Johnson had grown to the point that Eugene McCarthy, a relatively unknown U.S. senator from Minnesota came within 230 votes of defeating Johnson. Johnson later announced his withdrawal from the race.

On March 16 Senator Robert F. Kennedy announced that he would seek the Democratic nomination. On that same day a company of American troops assaulted the tiny Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai, killing hundreds of civilians, including infants and the elderly.

On April 4 a single shot from a high powered rifle cut down Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as he stood on a balcony at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. His assailant, James Earl Ray, would elude capture for nearly three months. In the days following the King assassination race riots rocked inner cities across America.

On the night of June 4, following a celebration of his victory in the California primary Senator Kennedy was gunned down by Sirhan Sirhan, a 24 year old Jordanian immigrant.

It was against this historical backdrop that I decided to write the story of Tom Williams, a young reporter for a daily newspaper in Tampa. On his way home from Atlanta, where he has covered the funeral of Dr. King, Williams decides to visit his grandmother in his small hometown of Monrovia. Here he must come to terms with a past that he has gone to great pains to escape, the mysterious deaths of his parents, the murder of a woman with whom he'd had a brief affair, and the lynching of a boyhood friend. Torn between his belief in the teachings of Dr. King and his desire for retribution Tom's obsession soon leads him to the discovery of secrets he would rather not have known.

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A native of Florida, Ray Dan Parker is a consultant, instructor, and free-lance writer. He is married and now lives in Atlanta where he spends his free time writing, reading, and playing tennis. He also enjoys teaching Sunday school and works as a youth leader at his church. Over the years he has authored a variety of training materials and a number of self-study courses.

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