Author: Stephen Hillard

Publisher: SelectBooks (June 6, 2017)

ISBN-10: 1590794214

ISBN-13: 978-1590794210

Stephen Hillard hasn’t written the JFK conspiracy novel to end all JFK conspiracy novels,  but instead demonstrates that trying to contribute anything new to this old thriller sub-genre requires some major literary and imaginative contortions.

In part, that’s because Knoll deals with Columbus McIntyre, a small-town attorney who wasn’t even born in November 1963. He’s the son of a mysteriously murdered police officer who was killed in 1970. Columbus learns his father had something to do with the president’s assassination which involved Mafioso kingpin Carlos Marcello.

In short order, McIntyre joins the long list of “witnesses” or those who know something, however minute or obscure, about snipers in Dallas who become marked for assassination themselves. Who’s responsible for so much murder over the decades? The government? The Mob? After all these years, what’s the point of covering up the secrets anyway? Who needs posthumous protection? 

Knoll isn’t a story set in large capital city offices or palatial residences of the rich and powerful. Instead, McIntyre is a fugitive on the run in American small towns, back alleys, and on interstate highways always looking over his shoulder. He’s only fleetingly in Dallas but mostly is on his motorcycle in Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Colorado, hardly the places most readers will associate with most assassination theories. While current events are set in 2014, there are many scenes recreated from the 1960s with many late-‘60s psychedelic trappings.       They are most appropriate in this stream-of-consciousness tale that bounces back and forth in time and geography that is always murky and blurry in its scattered revelations and unsolved mysteries.

Much of the book doesn’t focus on the assassination at all but rather McIntyre’s family relationships, his past, and the life he’s slowly losing grasp of. So he is very much an “Everyman” character swept up into events that took place long before he was born. In short, this is a book that tries to pull old conspiracy stories into the present day where the only ones to be on the firing line are people completely innocent of any complicity in anything at all that happened in 1963. 

Knoll is indeed an odd contribution to the Kennedy conspiracy subgenre and, at this late date, probably had to be. It has nothing new to add to the possibilities of more gunmen than Oswald in Dealy Plaza, but it does give us a very readable innocent man on the run yarn.