Friday, May 22, 2009

High Conspiracy in the Ocean Depths

By Chip Schrader
Book Review Editor
Jack Rutledge’s Coverup is a cool story. In two hundred pages the author crams World War Two conspiracy theories, submarines, scuba diving, investigative journalism and a potential “oil slick the size of Texas” into one compact novel.
The opening chapter depicts the covert mission of a doomed French vessel manned by a German Valkyrie mission hoping to inform the United States of an internal plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler. As a commercial American plane spots it outside of Cape Cod, the allied forces go in to sink it after a similar ship approached London indicating surrender and attacked instead. The American forces succeeded in sinking the friendly vessel.
Years later, a roughed up Maine scuba diver and history buff named Jerry Scott is asked to help a fisherman untangle his equipment from an unexpected obstacle outside of Cape Cod. Thus begins Jerry’s journey to uncover what he figures are French Nazi-sympathizers in a sunken submarine that the Navy has long obscured. Scott reasons this was to maintain the calm of the American public from the proximity we came to an “Atlantic Pearl Harbor,” or to mask a fatal error.
In order to get funding for this deep sea excavation he and his friend Greg Rivers intend to execute, they needed some publicity to generate interest in their possible discovery. In comes the beautiful, young, and hard-headed reporter Ashley Powell.
Ten years younger, Jerry knows there is no chance, and she is not one for unclean fishermen who carry the stink of booze, misery and the sea. But she is intrigued by a man who knows what he’s talking about.
When he mentions that the ocean is filled with sunken tankers from the war that are slowly leaking, she is all ears. Her story in progress is an exposé of said oil that she figured was coming from modern oil tankers, and she is sure this is her ticket to the big time. Gradually, he works to lure her into his own story so that his expedition could begin, and perhaps to land her interest.
From there, people involved in the sub’s fate come out of the woodwork to fill in the details of the story, to try and trespass and take claim to the wreckage, and friendships change and weave within the narrative. All the while the reader is hoping Jerry and Greg get everything they are seeking, and that Ashley catches the stardom for which she reaches, but first they need to get out of exposing this conspiracy alive.
Rutledge fleshes out the characters’ back stories nicely without them reading like digressions. Moreover, he cleverly uses Ashley’s lack of military expertise to allow for Jerry to more clearly explain the convoluted logic that is involved in the military strategy. Simultaneously, Rutledge portrays Ashley as having an acute ear and razor sharp logic, a fine nuance that avoids the negative stereotype some authors might inadvertently give women.
Rutledge’s respect for his characters reveals his evolved sensibility as an author, and his capability to integrate the finer semantic distinctions of the human psyche. All the while, he has no problem to poke a little fun.
Taking place in areas surrounding Portsmouth, Portland and Boston with several mentions of the Portsmouth Naval Yard, Rutledge will immediately engage the reader familiar with seacoast locales.
From the action packed first chapter, Rutledge hooks the reader in like a seasoned fisherman, and does not let up on the questions, the facts, and the speculations that make this read so compelling. As with any novel with a tough guy at the center, there is romance and flirtation tastefully infused for some narrative flavor.
Fans of Tom Clancy, W.E.B. Griffin, and Clive Cussler will appreciate the details and research the author has put into this story, and will enjoy the opportunity to look just beyond their back yard knowing that is where it all happens. It will surely be compulsively read from page one.
Photo caption: Cover of Coverup by Jack Rutledge. (Courtesy photo)

Designers Focus on
Family Room, Guest Bedroom

By Larry Favinger
Staff Columnist
Two of the decorators at this year’s Decorator Show House sponsored by the Old York Historical Society were working this week on their assigned areas. The McIntire Farm on Cider Hill Road is the 20th show house presented by Old York. It will be open to the public from July 18 through Aug. 5. The Decorator Show House is the largest fund-raiser annually for Old York.
Valerie Jorgensen of V. Jorgensen Design of Wells and Frank Hodge of F. D. Hodge Interiors of Boston, Mass., were working on the family room and guest bedroom respectively.
The family room, located in the rear of the house with windows overlooking a vast area of woodlands, salt marsh, bog areas and many pastures, was nothing more than bare studs and insulation when the process began.
“This is a wonderful professional challenge,” Jorgensen said standing in the room early this week. “I can do anything I want.”
Last year she did an entry hall at The Ledges in Kittery Point and this year entered a proposal for the dining room. When that area was assigned to another decorator, Carol Coles, the chairwoman for the project, asked Jorgensen to use her ideas on the family room, which she was more than happy to do.
She said she is taking part in the show house because “it is good exposure” and she wanted to support Old York Historical Society because “they do a wonderful job.
Ms. Jorgensen has been in business for herself since 2006.
Mr. Hodge did the master bedroom at The Ledges a year ago and this year had been given the guest room and the kitchen at the McIntire Farm.
“Basically we can do whatever we want to do,” he said standing in the upstairs room.
He plans to finish the bedroom before moving on to the much larger kitchen area of the farmhouse.
He likes doing the show house because of the exposure it gives his work.
The Show House will be open from July 18 through August 5, on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. It is closed on Tuesdays.
Photo caption: Valerie Jorgensen of V. Jorgensen Design of Wells measures spaces in the family room at the McIntire Farm on Cider Hill Road in York, this year’s decorator show house for the Old York Historical Society.

$2 Million Gift to Berwick Academy
to Support Financial Aid

Berwick Academy is pleased to announce a major gift to support financial aid for the next twenty years. Former President of the Berwick Academy Board of Trustees, Mary Z. Schleyer, has donated $2 million from The Schleyer Family Foundation to establish the Mary Z. Schleyer Scholars program. During a time when affordability is a major concern for all private educational institutions, the Academy is delighted to receive this kind of support and generosity from a family that has held Berwick Academy close to their hearts for many years.
Mary and Bill Schleyer sent their three sons Will, T., and David to Berwick for a combined total of 26 years. All three sons have continued to find great success in their endeavors after Berwick Academy, receiving educations from Yale University, Amherst College, and Vanderbilt University, respectively. Prior to serving on the Board, Mary was a president of the School’s parent organization. Her years of service and her love of Berwick continue long after her boys have left the Hilltop, and her legacy has been one of continually finding strategies to maximize the potential of the Academy while creating ways to improve the experience for all students.
Mary Schleyer commented, “Access to quality education has always been important to our family. Both Bill and I were recipients of scholarship funds when we were young and it made such a difference in our lives. We are honored to assist Berwick in its quest to find and nurture talented local students to reach their highest potential. Berwick is such a special place; the relationship between faculty and students is magical. To be able to offer this experience to students who may otherwise not be able to attend is so rewarding. In these difficult economic times it is incumbent upon all of us to invest in the next generation, each to the best of our own ability. These investments are important to our future.”
The Mary Z. Schleyer Scholars Program was created specifically to assist students who demonstrate financial need and a potential to graduate in the top 10% of their class at Berwick, along with a significant talent in at least one of the following areas: Athletics, Arts, Service, or Student Leadership. Two students will be awarded with the scholarship each year, a boy and a girl entering ninth grade. This annual restricted gift will be provided by the Schleyer Family Foundation for immediate use, and therefore has immediate impact on the school’s financial aid budget and admission process. Berwick Academy has recently enrolled the first two Schleyer Scholars for the 2009-2010 academic year: Kelsey Hayden of South Berwick and Ben Muthig of North Berwick.
Head of School Greg Schneider commented, “This gift from the Schleyer Family Foundation is nothing short of transformational for Berwick Academy. By supporting our financial aid budget in such a creative way, the Mary Z. Schleyer Scholars program has been able to make a Berwick education more accessible to the brightest students in the Seacoast. We are particularly thrilled to award the first two Schleyer scholarships to students from North and South Berwick.”
Kelsey Hayden is currently attending Marshwood Middle School in South Berwick. She is a straight A student and a member of the Gifted and Talented Program. She contributes to the life of her school by playing flute for the school band and as a peer mentor. Her greatest passion lies in the pool, ranking as a top ten swimmer in New England three times. She also possesses a dedication to community service, which includes greeting troops at Pease Air Force Base, preparing Christmas baskets for needy children, and volunteering at a local soup kitchen. For fun, Kelsey skis and enjoys reading and writing.
Ben Muthig attends Noble Middle School in Berwick. When discussing his advanced math placement in geometry, he gave the credit to his father who is a math teacher. Ben contributes to the life of his school on the baseball field as a star pitcher, hockey rink, and cross-country trails. During the summer, Ben volunteers his time at a YMCA family camp by delivering mail, assisting with program activities, and helping out on the waterfront. On his own, he began a camper recycling program. For fun, Ben enjoys football, archery, and swimming.
Berwick Academy believes that these two recipients will be the first in a long line of incredible Schleyer Scholars on the Hilltop.