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ABOUT THE BOOK
Dishonored and Forgotten
By Larry and Carolyn Watts
Larry D. Watts Publishing
Paperback: 288 pages
January 2, 2017, $19.95
Genre: Historical Crime/Mystery
Dishonored and Forgotten is a fictional account of a 1950’s narcotics scandal that rocked the Houston, Texas Police Department. One officer was dead with two gunshots to the heart and a nasty laceration on his head. The death was ruled a suicide. Another officer was sent to prison for selling heroin back to those he arrested. A captain was fired and a police chief lost his job. Dr. Julius McBride went to prison for supplying that police chief with codeine illegally. High profile federal narcotics agent George White came to Houston and challenged the locals, including the police chief, city attorney, mayor, district attorney and every officer he thought was dirty.
This story is a fictional account of those events. Its focus is on two men. Martin Billnitzer was the detective who was killed with two shots to the heart. Within hours his death was ruled a suicide. Bill Pool was a police officer who first reported the possibility of a narcotics scandal to federal authorities. His career in Houston was ruined. Both men’s careers were cut short, their service dishonored, and their lives all but forgotten in the annals of Houston’s history.
Research on this book included interviews, newspaper articles about the scandal, books about some of the participants and the federal narcotics agent’s personal papers from Stanford University libraries. Where gaps in the story existed after our research, we added fictional accounts of what may have happened. However, the names of most participants are real and much of the story is factual. Italicized quotes from documents were taken directly from letters, notes, or newspaper articles with the exception of the quotes reported from a recording by George White of Dr. Julius McBride and his wife, which are fictional.
The story is told by a retired officer, Buck Nichols, who is one of the few fictional characters in the book. However, the story he tells is derived from research, with missing information being created by the authors’ imagination as to what might have occurred all those years ago.
GUEST POST FROM THE AUTHORS
News is Just History Repeated
larry & Carolyn Ferrell Watts
When we began the research for our novel recounting the events that occurred during Houston, Texas’ first narcotics scandal that occurred in 1953, we, of course, had no idea that one of the most dominant story lines in local and national news would become the sometimes violent interaction between police and citizens. Many of these stories are captured on video, then posted to social media sites, rerun on local and national news, and then become fodder for news talk radio and television shows.
There are the stories, such as the shooting of police officers in Dallas, in which the officers are victims who are viciously attacked. There are also those less complimentary stories, in which officers are caught on camera abusing or sometimes taking the lives of citizens. Interest groups have been formed and rhetoric spouted to support the political positions of those on both sides of the issue. There’s Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, slogans such as Pro Black isn’t Anti-White and Support our Police. In fact, except for the recent presidential election, no issue has come close to dominating the national attention that has been generated by police interaction with the public in the last few years.
If you are of a certain age, you’ve probably heard your peers make statements concerning the declining morals and ethics of our society. In fact, every generation believes theirs may be the last to exhibit the character that prevents the downfall of civilization. We often forget that there is nothing new under the sun. When we read accounts of elections more than a hundred years ago, we find examples similar to the nastiness we experienced in 2016’s presidential election and the accounts of citizen clashes with police during the 1960’s had similarities to today’s events.
And so it is with the historical events surrounding the story recounted in book, Dishonored and Forgotten. As you’ll find when you read the book, officers then were not more or less ethical and citizens were not any more likely to turn a blind eye to the misdeeds of police officers. In this story, citizens made accusations, officers committed crimes, and government agencies engaged in fierce turf battles. An officer was shot to death, either by his own hand, as the Houston Police Department declared, or by the hand of a fellow officer caught with his hand in a package of heroin, as a federal agent proclaimed publicly at the time.
There was one harbinger of events to come as it relates to the current use of advanced technology to record and publicize the actions of police officers and citizens as they encounter one another in tense situations. During interviews in 1954, that federal agent mentioned above, used a reel to reel, wire audio recorder to memorialize interviews he conducted with police officers. He would use one of these taped interviews as evidence of his ethics, when challenged by local officials. None of those involved is likely to have imagined how such technology would influence the discussion of police-community relations in the 21st century.
We invite you to purchase and read Dishonored and Forgotten. If you do, let us know if you enjoyed the book and your thoughts about this blog story.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Larry & Carolyn Watts
Larry and Carolyn are Texas authors who have teamed up as authors for the first time to write Dishonored and Forgotten. Larry has a BA in Labor Studies and is a graduate of the renowned Harvard University Trade Union Program whose mission is to help union leaders develop problem solving skills as well as discover ways to deepen public understanding of the value and importance of labor.
Larry’s career in law enforcement began in Houston, Texas, as a police officer. He became active in police labor issues and served on the board of directors of the Houston Police Officers’ Association and the National Association of Police Associations. He retired after 21 years and began working for a state-wide association representing law enforcement officers throughout Texas, eventually becoming the chief of staff. After 20 years, he again retired, and began his first fiction novel, The Missing Piece about an Austin police officer involved in shooting a black citizen. Within a year, Watts was asked to assist the City of Austin develop a labor relations department. Publication of that novel was postponed for two years while he fulfilled the interesting challenge. He has now published five works of fiction and a book of short-stories. His experiences are fodder for and add depth to his writing.
Carolyn worked for Continental Airlines for 16 years. She was a flight attendant scheduler early in that career and worked in Continental’s Public Relations Department before returning to school to attain a BS in Psychology and an MS in School Psychology. Her professional career has spanned positions in education, a non-profit counseling center and shelter for victims of domestic violence, and a private practice that enabled her to fulfill her desire to work with couples and their children.
Carolyn has advocated for children, parents and families for over 20 years as a counselor and specialist in school psychology. She is certified in marriage and family relationship therapies and in advanced therapies for treating trauma, loss and PTSD. Her training in working with trauma was valuable in 2011 when she volunteered to counsel victims and first responders during devastating wildfires in Texas.
Dishonored and Forgotten is Carolyn’s first venture into historical fiction writing. She has previously written six read-play-learn-together books for therapists and parents to use while working with children. She presents workshops to mental health providers and parents.
Larry and Carolyn live on the Texas Gulf Coast where they spend their time writing, enjoying family and attempting to capture all that life has to offer.