E. C. HANES
Reviews for The Bus to Beulah
A woman’s chance for a new beginning is derailed by the horrors of human trafficking in Hanes’ novel.
Maria Puente, at the age of 22, is headed from her native Mexico to the United States on an H-1B visa, which makes her eligible to work in nonagricultural businesses for a minimum of three years. When Maria boards the bus that will take her from her “comfortable nest” in Monterrey to a brand-new life in North Carolina, she’s determined to make her family proud. Her future includes a home with her Uncle Tomás and a job as a translator and computer programmer, but the rest of the passengers have only temporary agricultural visas to do grueling fieldwork in rural America. During a travel break at a rest stop, Maria overhears the only other two female passengers having a heated argument; before she knows it, she’s kidnapped by members of a human trafficking ring that’s run by an American agricultural company. Sheriff Will Moser of North Carolina’s Hogg County leads a team in a tense race to recover Maria and bring the traffickers to justice. The story is told hour by hour over 12 days, and Hanes’ prose is tight, forthright, and no-nonsense as he illuminates the lives of multiple characters willing to risk everything for a chance at survival. He tells a story that’s fast-paced and tense even as it addresses serious topics. Sheriff Moser is depicted as blunt and to the point when he expresses his disgust for the corrupt company behind the kidnapping: “They’re sucking the blood out of this place, leaving it with dead migrant workers, enslaved prostitutes, and people vitiated by drugs.” Hanes is also careful to show how Maria later starts to process the trauma she’s experienced, as when she admits that she can’t shake the horror: “I don’t think those memories have anywhere to hide in my brain.”
A kidnapping thriller that also effectively highlights the plight of a marginalized population.
Reviews for Justice by Another Name
I had no idea when I downloaded the ARC of this book from NetGalley just how much I was going to enjoy Justice by Another Name. I had never heard of E C Hanes and had no expectations that a murder in the hog-producing industry would be so enthralling.
But as soon as I began reading I had a feeling that this was going to be a good book. It has a dramatic opening as two boys, Paulie Reavis and Hank Grier are playing in Mitchell Creek in Hogg County, North Carolina. There’d been a violent storm and water was pouring down the creek sweeping huge tree trunks and other debris with it. At the top they saw a gigantic whirlpool and were taken by surprise when the lagoon of hog waste from Oris Martin’s farm above the creek burst through its retaining wall. Five million gallons of putrid black hog faeces and urine flooded down the gulley, taking the boys with it. Hank, survives, although badly injured, but Paulie dies. Imagine the horror of drowning in pig waste!
From that point on I was fascinated by the investigations into Paulie’s death and into the death of Paul, his father, a year earlier. Paul had worked on Martin’s pig farm and Lana, his wife is convinced his death was not an accident. I was just as fascinated by the details of the pig farming, the conditions the pigs are kept in, the diseases they carry and how the pig waste is dealt with, the whole process of constructing and operating the lagoons.
The mystery is not just how they met their deaths, but why. Was Paulie’s death an accident, a result of the storm damage or has someone been negligent? Was his father’s death really an accident? And just what caused the hog cholera epidemic that had hit the Martin Farms?
I was engrossed in the mystery, amazed that I found the details of the pig farming industry so interesting. The setting in North Carolina and the characters came to life as I read on. The feelings of fear, hate and grief escalated and as the book moved to its conclusion I realised that, as Lana says, ‘what’s revenge but justice by another name.‘
My thanks to the author, the publishers and NetGalley for my copy of this book.
His death was suspicious but the man with the power, the purse strings and the paychecks claims innocence of any wrong doing. One year later, when the late Paul Reavis’ young son died when a hog farm dam broke, flooding the area with toxins and poisonous gases and hog feces, the grieving widow is determined to prove either a conspiracy or a cover up and that the thriving hog industry’s false records and code violations are going to slowly kill off their North Carolina county.
When the Chief Deputy, Will Moser gets involved, he smells more than foul air and all fingers point to the Head Hog himself, Oris Martin. The problem? Getting people to come forward with the best kept secrets around because when people talk, strange evil befalls them.
Step into a world of inflated egos, power, prejudice and corruption as one man throws his weight around to create fear and the silence he so desperately needs while another is determined to bring justice to dead man, his son and his widow. JUSTICE BY ANOTHER NAME by E.C. Hanes is a gritty and nerved wrenching take on the power of blind fear and manipulation, all in the name of money. Any normal human would be gnashing teeth, being offended or feeling disgust, as this dark tale unfolds. Although written as fiction, just how often do we find these monstrous events are unfolding in reality? This author has done a marvelous job of raising some very intriguing questions and posing some terrifyingly vile “What ifs.”
I received an ARC edition from RaneCoat Press in exchange for my honest review.
Eastern North Carolina’s extremely profitable and much-maligned hog industry offers both setting and motive for this suspenseful tale of greed, corruption, and murder, with likable sheriff Will Moser, a damaged war veteran, trying to sort it all out. Hanes has written a humdinger of a novel here, with a fast-moving, well-constructed plot and a big cast of characters so real they will walk right off the page to steal your heart or maybe chase you through the putrid swamps with a loaded gun (Oris, Popper—evil personified). Hanes has got a real genius for scenes, especially dialogue. Nobody writes a better redneck conversation or a lovelier love scene. You better just block out a whole weekend for this one—you won’t be able to put it down. But don’t forget the Kleenex or the Makers Mark….
Redge Hanes’ new novel, Justice by Another Name, set in eastern North Carolina’s fictional Hogg County, opens with a thunderous, unforgettable scene and sustains that throttling pace until its very last sentence. Hanes knows eastern North Carolina—its people, culture, and geography—and renders it with wonderful documentary precision that authenticates every word he writes. He also knows the hog industry, thus it’s inviting to view this gripping novel not only as an indictment of that industry, but a cautionary tale as well. Hanes delivers a roster of truly inspired characters, chief among them Will Moser, a Vietnam veteran lawman, from one of the prominent county families, who finds himself ensnared in local inbred politics and a series of mysterious deaths a little too coincidental to be considered anything but murder. Leavening it all is a complicated love story that ups the ante and the danger with every page you can’t stop turning. Get your hands on Justice by Another Name. You’ll be enthralled.
THRILLING MURDER MYSTERY SET IN ONE OF THE SOUTH’S MOST CONTROVERSIAL INDUSTRIES
If Lana Reavis can’t get justice for her husband’s death, will she get vengeance?
In the second title by distinguished North Carolina author E.C. Hanes, Justice by Another Name [March 7, 2017, RaneCoat Press] readers are submerged in the profitable but much-maligned hog industry in North Carolina when Paul Reavis’ suspicious workplace death is followed up by the similarly questionable demise of his own son.
A thunderous, unforgettable opening sets the breakneck pace of Justice by Another Name, a page-turner that keeps readers guessing to the very last sentence. Hanes knows eastern North Carolina—its people, culture, and geography—and brings it to life with wonderful documentary precision that authenticates every word.
Lana Reavis, who believes her husband was murdered and her son the victim of deliberate negligence, enlists the aid of her long-ago boyfriend, Will Moser, who is currently chief deputy of Hogg County and the heir apparent to the local sheriff.
As Will’s investigation unfolds, suspicious activities and cover-ups begin to emerge. All evidence points to Oris Martin, the powerful owner of Martin Farms, a huge hog-production enterprise and Hogg County’s largest employer, as the mastermind. Despite political pressure and physical threats to look the other way, Will continues his search for what really happened. Meanwhile, Lana, convinced that Oris will be beyond the reach of justice, devises a plan to avenge her family and destroy everything precious to Oris Martin.
“Whether it has been greed, ego, or some psychosis, the human urge to accumulate power, which is at the center of my book, has been the main source of evil and primary fuel for mankind’s continual self destruction,” says Hanes.
Justice By Another Name opens with the most beautiful description of the outdoor environment of eastern North Carolina and a very realistic scene of young boys at play that instantly grabbed my attention and allowed me to picture everything perfectly. Then, quickly turned into one of the most terrifying death scenes I could imagine- drowning in pig manure. From here, I was intrigued by Will’s investigation into the hog production industry and Lana’s involvement into the veterinary side of hogs. Learning about all of this was really interesting to me, especially about how the pigs are treated and different diseases that they carry. Will’s investigation brought out the seedier side of the industry and what farmers might do in order to cover up when something goes wrong. The suspense and mystery of the book was not so much who caused Paul Sr. and Paulie’s deaths, but the reasons why they were killed. Will’s journey into the mind of the killer and Lana’s sophisticated way of revenge lead to an exciting and thrilling ending.
A more interesting senate race, in fiction
While you are watching U.S. Senate campaign television ads, occasionally interrupted by brief segments of programming, do you ever wonder what goes on inside the candidate’s campaign organization?
For instance, what if you could take on the role as the top aide to an incumbent North Carolina U.S. senator running for reelection against a top state official who has a full war chest of campaign funds? Interesting? Challenging?
A new novel, “Billy Bowater,” by Winston-Salem civic leader E. C. “Redge” Hanes is a fictional version of such a campaign. William Walpole Bowater III, the book’s central character, is chief legislative assistant to incumbent Sen. Wiley Grace Hoots. Like the author, Billy Bowater comes from a prominent North Carolina family, one in which expectations for performance and service are demanding.
Family connections got Billy a job on Sen. Hoots’s staff, but his hard work and willingness to do what it takes earned him the top staff job and a leading place in Hoots’s reelection campaign effort. Meanwhile, back at the real current senate campaign, polls indicate a tight race between incumbent U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan and the challenger, state House Speaker Thom Tillis. But, even with an overflow of television ads, this contest has not yet gathered the same level of public interest, commitment, and passion as some of the North Carolina classic Senate races like that of the Frank Graham-Willis Smith race in 1950 or the Jesse Helms-Jim Hunt race in 1984.
The Hunt-Helms race is obviously the model for the election campaign chronicled in “Billy Bowater.” Billy’s boss, a conservative incumbent senator, who is much loved and much hated for his conservative viewpoints, is Wiley Grace Hoots rather than Jesse Helms.The popular governor with campaign coffers full of cash is Randolph James rather than Jim Hunt.
The publisher of the Raleigh News and Observer is Daniel Frank, rather than Frank Daniels, Jr.
Billy loves his job and the power that comes with it, but he has to wrestle with his conscience when he finds himself on opposite sides of important issues from his boss. He justifies continuing to work for Sen. Hoots because, as he says, Hoots, not Billy, was elected senator. Billy was not elected anything. So it is Billy’s job to help Hoots accomplish his agenda.
Billy admires Hoots for his strong conservative principles. Unlike many other politicians, Hoots operates on the basis of those principles even when political winds are blowing in a different direction.
Nevertheless, Hoots can play hardball when that is what it takes to win.
“Billy Bowater” takes readers inside the campaign’s top leadership meetings, where the main challenge is to raise enough money to fund the campaign. They focus on finding an issue that will make potential donors angry, angry enough to give.
Billy watches as that issue presents itself in the form of an exhibit at the Ackland Art Museum at UNC-Chapel Hill. One of the exhibits features a man urinating, seemingly on a figure meant to represent Jesus. Certainly many people could view this artwork as sacrilegious and offensive.
The challenge to the Hoots campaign was to use these exhibits to inflame their supporters but to do it without direct criticism of the university and its alumni, many of whom were judged to be likely Hoots supporters
To get the issue before the public, the crafty senator enlists his friend, the Rev. Earl Caldwell Anthony, head of the Christian Crusade, to raise the issue with the millions of his followers.
Hanes makes a good story as his characters wrestle with these challenges. What I enjoyed the most was the opportunity to hear discussions among candidates, aides, campaign managers, media consultants, and fundraising committees and see how hard it is for candidates to keep all of these people from eating each other alive.
North Carolina Bookwatch/UNC-TV
Billy Bowater, the first book published by E.C. Hanes of Winston-Salem, is a must-read for anyone interested in Exploring the connection between art and soul, comprehending the back room strategy of politics, or simply wishing to locate and strengthen his or her own moral compass. Though a novel, this book is loosley based on Hanes’ own experiences as a politician, businessman and defender of the arts. By page eleven, you will be hooked by the charm of Billy and the observations of Lucy Lou, his outspoken gal-pal.
“Somewhat of an exposé, this lighthearted novel follows one everyman sorting through the messy world of politics.
Billy Bowater loves the sport of politics. He loves the fight, “the chase, the strategizing, and even the greed.” And as he explains at the start of this intriguing and credible novel about power and character, “in the greed business there [are] no rules, only conventions.”
The novel’s title character is the chief administrative assistant to a fictional senator of North Carolina, Wiley Grace Hoots, who is dubbed “the darling of the far right.” While presenting the work firmly as fiction, author E. C. Hanes makes no secret of his own North Carolina roots, his association with the National Endowment for the Arts, or his personal contact with then-Senator Jesse Helms on a controversial issue pitting conservative Christianity against the NEA in events that parallel those of the book. While the novel focuses earnestly on its title character’s moral coming-of-age, it’s hard not to read it as an insider’s look at the character and mind-set of the late Senator Helms. It’s also hard not to read it as something of an exposé. Which isn’t all bad, though fans of Helms’s positions on public decency and the arts might think it is.
To be sure, this novel is not sympathetic toward the fictional Senator Hoots, not even when Bowater is happy to avoid taking a stand against his boss’s more extreme actions or rhetoric. As effective as Bowater is at running interference for Hoots—and some of the novel’s best scenes are those power-play phone calls or late-night meetings with the major players of the campaign—he never really admires the senator. He’s not a supporter so much as a guy just looking to get into the game. And he’s been allowed to do it all: to eat the steaks on the lobbyist’s dime, to stand in front of the reporters taking questions, and to negotiate terms on the Senator’s shady deals. Bowater has done so by not looking too closely at his own principles, by filing everything under the real-world-trumps-all header known as compromise. The novel’s crisis comes not when Bowater is confronted with the truth, but when he’s simply asked to take sides.
Billy Bowater is a warmhearted and accessible novel that delves into the messy world of politics but stays anchored to the plight of one man.“
“I have read Billy Bowater many times, and each time I recognize the character is sexy, smart, dumb, revengeful, and kind, just like human beings everywhere. Redge Hanes has captured the human truth and reminds us in this book that nothing human can be alien to any of us. We all know and recognize Billy Bowater, the character.”
“ In North Carolina, politics is a profession for some, an obsession for many, and a mystery for many more, but we’ve rarely seen a work of fiction by a writer with the experience and insight to paint our political portrait on a larger canvas, rich with telling detail and an insider’s grasp of the playbook. This is a book Redge Hanes was born to write; the question “How can he know all this?” can be answered only by reading his biography. Billy Bowater isn’t exactly a roman à clef, but if readers find some of the characters familiar, that’s the author’s intention entirely. Billy Bowater, a man in search of truth and meaning in a world that deliberately obscures them, isn’t exactly a projection of the novelist, but they’re from the same gene pool. There’s a great deal to learn and enjoy in this first novel, which any student of politics would be a pure fool to ignore.”
author of Cathedrals of Kudzu and Gather at the River.
“ Redge Hanes is a deft writer with a keen knowledge of North Carolina politics. He tells what really happens inside senate offices and campaign headquarters and at after-hours political watering holes. And he shows what can happen to people’s lives and reputations when ego, greed, and unbridled ambition collide in the full-contact world of politics.”
political consultant and author of Jim Hunt: A Biography.
“ Billy Bowater is a captivating read. While it is fictional, it has wonderful parallels with a fascinating time in the political life of North Carolina and the nation.”
Frank Daniels Jr.
former publisher of the News and Observer [ Raleigh, NC ]