I welcome John Nuckel to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! to talk about the inspiration for his latest book, Drive, which he found after reading about the Rough Riders and The Volunteers. I’m always intrigued by secret societies and this time period in NYC. John uses his research as the basis for a modern day crime thriller. I hope you enjoy the article as much as I did. Enjoy!
How I Found Historical Inspiration in The Volunteers
by John Nuckel, author of Drive
My latest book, Drive, is the first novel in The Volunteers series.
The idea for The Volunteers came to me as I was reading the history of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. I found that many of the men in that troop came from my hometown, New York City. It was especially compelling to find that many of the officers in the Rough Riders were from prominent and wealthy families. I learned that William Tiffany of jewelry fame died as a result of a fever he developed during his time in the Cuban jungles with the Rough Riders. In that era people of a certain class were expected to serve and to make a contribution towards the greater good.
The creation of The Volunteers series came to me after my research led me to another wealthy New Yorker who served with the Rough Riders. Woodbury Kane was a relative of the John Jacob Astor family. It is Kane in the foreground in Remington’s painting of the storming of San Juan Hill, pistol in hand. When I sought out his bio and read that his profession was Yachtsman and Bon Vivant, I had to use him as a character.
The story starts when Kane returns home to New York and is no longer content to live the life of the gilded set. He forms the Volunteers to fight against the tyranny of Tammany Hall around the turn of the last century. Kane is joined by his friend, Jacob Riis, the trailblazing journalist, and Teddy Roosevelt himself. Together they work to do what is right: “Et Omnia Recta.” Their purpose is to lift the common man from the oppression of the corrupt Tammany government.
Like any great world city, New York has more interesting characters and events to count. In Drive, Kane and Riis deal with the forbearers of the American Mafia, Paul Kelly, and Monk Eastman, the enforcers for Tammany politicians and founders of the gangs that produced Myer Lansky, Lucky Luciano, and Al Capone, among many others.
The Volunteers have stayed active in the background to this day. They still meet in the saloons and mansions of the early years and remain steadfast in their calling, Et Omnia Recta.
The parallel story in Drive takes place in today’s New York, when Annie Falcone, a NYPD officer, is recruited to protect America’s greatest technological mind from a murderous Chinese hacker. Her assignment takes her to Martha’s Vineyard, where it will take all of her skills and her “drive” to survive the mission.
The Volunteers series will cover many of the scandals and news events in New York City over the last 120 years. The second book in the series, will be set during the Harlem Renaissance. The famous Cotton Club was owned by and Irish gangster, Owney Madden, and is the heart of the story.
Every crooked politician, mob king, showgirl, and jazz musician in New York spent time in the club. What could possibly go wrong? What fun to write and read.
I hope you enjoy Drive and that you will join me on my journey with The Volunteers series.
Drive, Synopsis –
Et Omnia Recta—to make things right.
n the late 1800s, a secret society is formed by a captain from Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders with the support of the nation’s leading industrialists and bankers. Over a century later, the tradition continues, in the same saloons and boardrooms of New York City where it all began.
In this crime thriller, where history and current events unite, Woodbury Kane, Jacob Riis, and Roosevelt himself fight the tyranny of Tammany Hall in the first mission of the Volunteers during the turn of the last century.
In today’s New York, the descendants of the Volunteers recruit Annie Falcone, a New York police officer, who takes the oath: Et Omnia Recta. She is to provide protection to one man, America’s top technological mind, from his longtime adversary, Sheng, China’s most brutal hacker.
Annie is unaware that she’s merely a decoy to draw Sheng out for the hit squad that was sent ahead of her. Her instincts alone will be the force behind the success or failure of the mission.
Like so many other Volunteers before her, Annie’s survival depends upon her courage, her skill, and her DRIVE.
John Nuckel, Biography –
John Nuckel went from the welfare apartments of a middle-class town to a successful career in the financial world. Even in the midst of his accomplishments, he knew he needed to express himself creatively. He’s always said he met enough characters sitting on barstools on Wall Street to fill a dozen books, so now he’s embracing his creative spirit by writing. He encouraged others to do the same on his radio show, “Wake Up and Dream.”
He is a New York Times contributing writer and the author of three white-collar crime thrillers in The Rector Street Series (The Vig, Grit, and Blind Trust), as well as two short stories (The Victory Grill and The Garden). Drive is his latest work.
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Thanks for a wonderful article, John!