Hawkins County

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The reader is invited to spend a moment imagining a story about juvenile delinquency, complete with fast action and numerous well-developed and identifiable characters. There is Pat O'Connor, the delinquent boy with a refreshing sense of honor. Then there is Jack Johnson, the young college jock turned newly-hired probation officer who discovers that the dilemmas encountered in his new position can't be resolved by tipping a beer or ad-libbing a smart answer. And there is Mike Halloran - the biggest drug dealer and fence for stolen property in the county - who also happens to be the Judge's son. Include Pat's alcoholic father, a wise and kindly sheriff, and a delinquent gang along with several supporting characters, and you have the personalities of "Hawkins County."

This is a story about the "system" and how its members interact, not only with each other but with the street kids it tries to manage and rehabilitate as well. It is also a story about deviant youth and explores their lifestyle, humor, and fatal flaws. Dynamic chase scenes, emotional confrontations, alcohol and marijuana abuse, and tense courtroom drama all intermingle with social issues. The story is set in the early 1970's. It is all there...the economic depression, the authentic dialog, Vietnam...delicately blended with a system of juvenile justice that really has heart. This is not only a story for today but also serves as a nostalgia piece for the baby boomers. "Hawkins County" is a story about Smalltown USA. It's characters possess an optimism, and in many ways a refreshing innocence, that only a small town can generate but that will appeal to viewers from all backgrounds. The characters tackle their problems with a freshness which is rooted in the faith that the system still works, and that it is fair. This is a positive story, not a fatalistic one.

"Hawkins County" is based upon an actual case that I inherited when I began my career as a juvenile probation officer. There was a Pat O'Connor in my life - a timid youth whose goal was to escape the system - school, courts, and in some ways, the responsibilities of growing up. After we met he blossomed into a mature young man who learned to return the trust which I offered to him and as a result, we influenced each other and matured together. Unlike this story, the real Pat O'Connor (not his actual name), never made it off of probation. He was killed in a car accident a short time before he was to begin a new job and a better way of life. "Hawkins County" is a tribute to him; through the novel he will live again and have the opportunity to inspire others as he has me.

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