Reviewer Wally Wood: Wally is a a professional writer and a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. He holds a master's degree in creative writing from the City University of New York as well as a bachelor's degree from Columbia University where he majored in philosophy. As a volunteer, he has taught writing in men's state prisons and to middle-school students in his local library.
His first novel, Getting Oriented: A Novel About Japan received positive reviews even from people who do not know him. As a ghost-writer, he has written 19 business books, all published by commercial publishers. He has recently published The Girl in the Photo which is currently available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble as a trade paperback or Kindle download.
Author: Bob Siqveland
Publisher: Outskirts Press
On page 2 of Bob Siqveland's Simple Witness, Jethro Plack—a very bad man—murders a young woman in a Minneapolis parking garage. It's Jethro's bad luck that one Harold Bartz, aka Bandit—not the sharpest tool in the shed—witnesses the killing. Jethro does catch Bandit's truck license number, and the game's afoot.
Bandit, realizes he's in danger and, rather than going to the cops with what he's seen, lights out for Las Vegas. Vegas turns out to be a city of opportunity for Bandit and he induces two other dim Minneapolis friends to join him. But not before the friends inadvertently revealed Bandit's new address to Jethro who sends two Russian hit men clean up his mess. These sections are more like Laurel and Hardy looking for Larry, Moe, and Curly.
Jethro's telemarketing business is a beard for his very lucrative internet scam: "You have WON the Fortune Fate Lottery" with a £5,250,00 prize. "The notice was official-looking with lots of numbers, references, and instructions," and the instructions was signed by Sir George Bedford in London. To claim the prize, the winner had to send £2,460 to "offset costs of processing your winnings, which include all account openings handling, insurance, transfer, and mailing charges."
So while the Minneapolis cops are investigating the murder, a St. Paul cop begins looking into the internet scam. Simple Witness's short chapters move from Minneapolis to Las Vegas to St. Paul to London and back, and they shift in point of view from Jethro to Bandit to Sean O'Dell, a St. Paul police lieutenant, to Tommy Ling, one of Jethro's two minions in London. But because the chapters are short and Siqveland's writing is clear, the reader is able to follow all the skulduggery.
I thought Simple Witness was unusually entertaining. I also found Bandit and his two friends unconvincing, but I think it's very difficult to write convincingly about characters with limited mental abilities. Finally, Jethro Plack is pure, unmitigated evil. Aside from ripping off gullible Americans who believe they've won a Fortune Fate Lottery, Plack enjoys causing women pain. He's a sicko and, as such, not that interesting as a character. He and the other bad people deserve what happens to them in the end.