Local author tackles JFK case 

Was there a conspiracy?

Was there a conspiracy?
Forty years ago this week, on Nov. 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed as he rode through the streets of Dallas in an open car. In the intervening four decades, despite two official investigations and hundreds and hundreds of books on the topic, there’s very little agreement on what happened that day. Was accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald the triggerman? Were there other gunmen in Dallas that day? And what was the role of the U.S. government in the crime and the subsequent cover-up of the facts? While we may be no closer to resolution of those questions — just check out the Internet if you thought those questions had been answered — an Indianapolis author has written a fictional account of what might have happened in 1963. Stu Shaver’s book, Conspiracy Betrayed (287 pages; Cork Hill Press; $18), is a new and unique treatment of those events. It is the story of Jordan Matthews, a best-selling author living in Dallas in 1975. As Matthews prepares to write an alternative history of the Kennedy assassination, he finds that the true conspirators behind the murder have vowed to stop publication of the book. For Shaver, publication of the book fulfills a longtime dream to publish a novel on the subject. While living in the Dallas area a few years ago, he realized he had a great opportunity to do research on the case. “This was an area where American history was changed,” he says, “and I don’t think it was changed for the better. The future of America was changed forever.” He began writing his book with extreme skepticism of the official story. “My personal belief is that Oswald didn’t fire a shot that day. I think he was involved on some level, but I believe he was set up. He came out of the whole thing wrapped up so nice and neat and tidy [for the police]. Why did he go to the theater? Why didn’t the presidential motorcade go straight instead of taking those extreme turns? I don’t think Oswald was anything more than a fall guy.” He sees the first investigation of the murder, led by then-Chief Justice Earl Warren, as a whitewash. “It’s amazing the way they could take perfectly rational eyewitness testimony and constantly distort it in their translation,” Shaver says. Much of the action in the book takes place as the U.S. Congress begins its own investigation into the murder. In real life, the House Select Committee on Assassinations, in 1978, reached virtually the same conclusion as the Warren Commission: Oswald fired the shots that killed Kennedy. The House Committee, however, citing acoustic evidence, said a conspiracy probably existed and that a second gunman fired at Kennedy that day and missed. The validity of that conclusion has been questioned for the past 25 years. Unlike some authors on the JFK murder, Shaver doesn’t see himself as being obsessed with the case or with proving one particular theory about it. “I just wanted to write a book about Kennedy, but I wanted to write a book about him that was unlike anything that had been done before.” While other authors, such as Don DeLillo and Norman Mailer, have used the JFK murder and the story of Oswald as the starting point for fictional or semi-fictional works, Shaver’s goal was to write a Robert Ludlum-type thriller. In the process of writing Conspiracy Betrayed, Shaver not only visited the key scenes in Dallas, he had numerous conversations with noted JFK assassination buffs, such as Robert Groden, who was a visual consultant on Oliver Stone’s film JFK. “I had so many resources by living in Dallas,” Shaver says. Others consulted included Jim Marrs, author of the best-selling book Crossfire, another main source for Stone’s 1991 film. The book itself spans decades as it tells the story of a Mafia member, a CIA operative and others who might have been involved in the assassination. Shaver spent the better part of a decade researching and writing the book, enduring dozens of rejection slips from publishers along the way. He said he plans to wallpaper a room in his home with all of them. He never gave up and eventually interested Indianapolis-based Cork Hill Press in the title. His goal was to get the book published by the 40th anniversary of JFK’s death and Shaver achieved his goal with more than a month to spare. Currently, Shaver is at work on his second novel, titled Til Death Do Us Part. It’s a thriller set in 1950s Hollywood and is scheduled for publication next year. Meanwhile, Conspiracy Betrayed is available on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com or through Cork Hill Press, (866) 688-BOOK.

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