Clarkston author zeroes in on Soo Locks
June 15, 2011 - Sault Ste. Marie of 1943 forms the backdrop for Dead Lock, the newest novel by B. David Warner of Clarkston.
In the story, newspaper reporter Kate Brennan investigates a murder in Sault Ste. Marie and runs into a Nazi plot to destroy the locks.
Nazis at the Soo may be fictional, but the setting itself is historical fact, Warner said.
"The Soo Lock were more defended than Washington D.C.," Warner said. "The vast majority of iron ore used in Allied factories sailed through the Soo Locks – a Nazi bombing attack would have shut down every war plant in the United States."
It's a timely story, he said.
"With terrorism, the locks are again under guard," he said.
Warner made sure every detail was accurate, checking and rechecking anti-aircraft artillery specifications. A radio broadcast mentions Leo Durocher on Fred Allen's Texaco Star Theater the night of June 20, 1943, and the Detroit Tigers loses a double-header earlier that day – all are accurate-.
"Little things like that make the story believable and highly readable," he said. "To tell a story that's believable, you need to do the homework and have the facts."
Research included many trips to the Soo Locks and interviews with people who were there in the early 1940s.
"I interviewed a fellow who lived there in 1941 and worked for the Soo Evening News," he said. "He had a lot of information on what it was like to work at a newspaper in the 1940s."
Another interview was with a man who worked for Army Intelligence and was present at the commissioning of the MacArther Lock on July 11, 1943, where the climax of the story takes place.
He also spoke with Bernie Arbic, author of several books on locks history, and Paul Sabourin, curator of Sault historic sites.
"Being an author is great – it's a chance to meet people you wouldn't otherwise meet," Warner said.
The author is writing more novels featuring Brennan.
"I like the character – she's compassionate but tough," he said. "She's a 21st century woman just happens to live in 1940s."
Dead Lock is his second novel. His first book, Freeze Frame, is a mystery/thriller set in Detroit's advertising industry. Dead Lock is published by Black Rose Writing of Castroville, Texas, and is available at Borders and Amazon websites. A book signing is set for 1-3 p.m., June 18, at Borders Outlet, Great Lakes Crossing Outlets. For more information, check www.bdavidwarner.com.
Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.