Williamsburg novelist draws on roots as JAG officer

#HRBooks contributor

After 22 years as a Navy JAG officer, Steve Stillwell is looking forward to settling down in his hometown of Williamsburg in a low-stress practice with plenty of leisure time.

He does not get his wish.

In David Grogan's novel "The Siegel Dispositions," Steve's very first client ends up getting him involved in murder and intrigue on an international scale. Professor Felix Siegel, a Holocaust survivor who is now a respected, wealthy retired academic, along with his beautiful but ill-mannered daughter Michelle comes to see Steve about finalizing his will. He also appoints Steve as his executor.

The will seems fairly straightforward. Michelle will inherit most of her father's wealth. But he has left $1.5 million to be divided among three of his fellow Holocaust survivors.

Steve thinks he has plenty of time to work things out, but then Professor Siegel is killed in what seems to be a terrorist attack in Israel. But when Steve and Michelle go in search of the three beneficiaries of the Siegel dispositions, they find that two of them have recently been murdered. The obvious suspect is Michelle herself, who will get the money if the beneficiaries predecease her father.

The German police, who are investigating the death of one of the beneficiaries, are quick to agree that Michelle is the most obvious suspect. But Steve soon learns that there is much more to this case than the obvious. He finds himself becoming a target in a dangerous international plot, which follows him home to Williamsburg. In one climactic scene, Steve flees from a hit man through the William and Mary campus and along North Henry Street.

Author David Grogan is himself a retired JAG officer and Williamsburg native.

The roots of his story come from a class he took at The George Washington University School of Law in human rights, he said. He took the course, mostly because it was convenient and didn't expect to get much out of it, but the class "opened my eyes to the fundamental importance and need for continued vigilance in protecting human rights worldwide," Grogan said in the book's acknowledgments.

"The Siegel Dispositions" is the first in a series featuring Steve Stillwell. The book does leave some lingering questions and it is apparent that Michelle Siegel will be back to try Steve's patience. It looks like Steve's retirement will be anything but quiet.

"The Siegel Dispositions" is available in both eBook and paperback editions on Amazon.com and BN.com, and at elect independent bookstores.

Christina Verderosa, a retired Navy officer and bookstore manager, lives in Newport News with her husband, two dogs and a cat.

Copyright © 2019, The Virginia Gazette
81°