Author J.T. Baroni
Did his book raise the dead?Outraged when The Post Gazette overlooks him for a promotion, thirty-nine year old sports writer, Christian Kane quits and moves to the country to write fiction.Inspiration flows from a grave he stumbles upon in the woods. He compiles The Legend of Rachel Petersen, a fascinating story revolving around the dead twelve year old girl lying beneath the weathered tombstone. His book becomes a Best Seller; then Hollywood makes it in to a blockbuster movie. Kane becomes rich and famous, but only to have Rachel rise from the grave to seek revenge on him for slandering her name.
Review: This suspense/thriller starts off with the introduction of Christian Kane, our contemporary character, sports journalist turned novelist. Like many present day thrillers, Christian has the happy, sexy marriage, job and house. I was not as excited about the characterization and descriptions penned in the beginning because many felt very much like 'asides' inserted merely as quick background information. This is common in contemporary fiction and is just a personal taste thing that I don't care for, but is not necessarily bad if you go for this approach. Have patience though, because the meat and most intriguing portion of the novel comes when we go back in time. Reading more like a historical fiction than contemporary thriller, we get the details of Rachel Petersen. The dialogue is authentic, the setting believable and I was drawn deeper and deeper into the story. As mentioned in the press release, two twists occur. Without giving away spoilers, the novel transitions at the end to contemporary times (back to Kane and his wife), which journals all the happy rise to the top his best seller novel takes. At first, I was disappointed by the cliche jolt and stark contrast in writing from the style I'd grown to enjoy -- but the twist happens, and then happens again. I believe Baroni succeeded in writing the type of story he set out to do -- however, I preferred the style and voice set in the past, rather than the characters created for contemporary purposes. I did not care for Christian or Shelby, nor did I get attached to them in anyway. I would have liked to seen more development in the present so I could care about both times featured in the book. In my opinion, the book's gem sits solely in the middle where the story of Rachel is told. This is where the stars were earned.
JT Baroni lives in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a small town east of Pittsburgh. As long as he can remember, he has been an avid outdoorsman, and has always had a fondness for word games and great story-telling literature. His older brother, who was born blind, taught him the game of chess at an early age; consequently, he plays a mean game.
Unlike most authors, Baroni won’t be taking the profits directly to his own bank account. Instead, Baroni plans to donate a portion of the proceeds to The Leader Dogs for the Blind – a charity based in Rochester Hills, Michigan. This organization has been providing free leader dog training and placement since 1939, directly changing the lives of thousands along the way.
Over the past few decades I’ve directly experienced both the generosity and the impact of the vital services The Leader Dogs for the Blind provide,” says Baroni, whose Brother, Gene, has been blind since birth. He continues, “The visually impaired depend, trust and rely on their dogs each and every day. I was actually Gene’s first ‘leader dog’ as a kid; we were totally inseparable. Since Adulthood he has had three canine companions and I want to ensure that the charity can continue to do their great work.
Baroni admits to being constantly impressed by the ability of his Brother’s leader dog; helping Gene navigate around his home city of Philadelphia. However, the inspiration for The Legend of Rachel Petersen came from an experience near his home in rural Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
“I am an avid outdoorsman. There are some fascinating places to explore within walking distance of my home. Last year I discovered a grave, deep in the woods. This gave me the inspiration for my book,” he adds.
The eerily enthralling book follows Christian Kane, a thirty nine year-old sports writer who becomes lividly outraged when The Pittsburgh Gazette overlooks him for a well-deserved and coveted promotion. After quitting his job and moving to the country to write fiction, he is inspired by a grave he stumbles upon in the woods.
This experience compels Kane to write ‘The Legend of Rachel Petersen’ – a story about the dead twelve year-old girl who is buried beneath the weathered tombstone. His release unexpectedly climbs the country’s Best Seller lists and is turned into a hugely successful Hollywood movie. With his newfound wealth and fame, Kane is dumbfounded when Rachel rises from the grave, seeking revenge on him for slandering her name.
….Or, does she?
“As with any timeless classic, there is a twist at the end. In fact, there are two twists!” Baroni explains.
Even though the book has been received into the literary world with critical acclaim, Baroni is conscious not to lose sight of its real purpose.
“Raising a puppy to Leader Dog status is extremely time consuming and expensive. In fact, it averages around forty thousand dollars per dog. I hope that this book will, in some way, relieve the financial burden to The Leader Dogs for the Blind and allow them to continue their great work well into the future,” he concludes.
The Legend of Rachel Petersen is available now in both paperback and e-Book formats from all good online bookstores.
JT Baroni - Author