Saturday, November 4, 2023

Now Available: Treason at Hanford: A Harry Truman Mystery

Scott D. Parker

Well, this is fun.

After a long gestation period, one of my favorite books has now been published.

What’s It About?

Here’s the short elevator pitch:

During an investigation to ferret out corruption on the home front in World War II, Senator Harry Truman not only finds himself embroiled in the top-secret world of the Manhattan Project, but must also confront the worst act of treason in American history since Benedict Arnold.

Here’s the longer book description:

As a U.S. Senator, Harry Truman led a congressional committee dedicated to ferreting out corruption during World War II with a simple credo: help the country win the war and bring our soldiers home.

In the spring of 1944, Truman receives a series of ominous letters from a lawyer out in Hanford, Washington. His client, a farmer who lost his land when the government confiscated it for a secret project, has been silenced and drafted into the Army.

Truman personally leads this investigation, bringing along former policeman Carl Hancock. Soon after they start looking into things, Truman and Hancock witness a pair of brutally murdered corpses, a town clouded in secrecy, and more than one person who’d prefer to be done with the pesky senator.

But the investigators are tenacious, and in no time, Truman and Hancock not only find themselves embroiled in the top-secret world of the Manhattan Project but also must confront the worst act of treason in American history since Benedict Arnold.

Where Can You Find It?

It is currently available as a ebook in all major online stores. For those of y’all who prefer paperbacks, those will be available soon.


Read an Excerpt

April 17, 1944
4:13 p.m., Pacific War Time

McLeod led Truman and Hancock out into the parking lot after the two travelers had refreshed themselves. As McLeod was getting his keys from his pocket, Truman said, “This is your car?”

“Yes, it is,” McLeod said, a hint of pride in his voice as he admired how the sun shone off the chrome grill and the midnight blue paint. “It’s a 1941 Lincoln Continental, the last major line produced before the war started.” He ran a hand along the roof on the driver’s side. “This baby really purrs, too. Smoothest riding car I’ve ever known.”

He opened the back door behind the driver’s seat and placed both suitcases on the seat. He leaned in and unlocked both passenger doors. The other two men climbed in, Truman in the front. McLeod slid behind the steering wheel and started the engine.

He paused with both hands on the wheel and looked over at Truman. “I deeply appreciate you both coming out here. I know you don’t know me from Adam and I’m not even a constituent. But it’s reached the point where I don’t trust anyone official over in Richland.”

“Well you can trust us,” Truman said, his finger idly tracing the curve of his hat, now on his lap. “Your letters, taken as a whole, amount to something we’ve not encountered. Usually, we get the company cheating the government and hampering the war effort with cheap products. Yours was, well, unnerving.” He glanced back at Hancock. “Carl?”

“It’s certainly unusual, I’ll give you that,” Hancock said. “But I’d like to hear some more details, if you don’t mind.”

“We have the time,” McLeod said, putting the car in gear and backing out of the parking space. “We have a little drive back up to Richland.”

Hancock said, “That reminds me. Why’d you have us meet you here in Oregon? Ain’t there a train station in Richland or some other town near there?”

McLeod looked at him in the rearview mirror. “I think I’m being watched. Those two hoods convinced me of that. I wanted to get out of the spotlight and meet somewhere where no one knows who I am.”

“You give your name to anyone here?” Hancock asked.

“No.” McLeod thought. “Yes, to the ticket man. I introduced myself and asked whether or not your train would be on time. Why, was that wrong?”

“Not necessarily, no, but it might’ve been better if you hadn’t.”

McLeod frowned. “But we’re more than an hour away from Richland. Why would it matter if I gave my name down here? Besides, I live in Seattle so Richland’s not even my hometown.”

“But you’ve been in Richland for a few weeks working for your client.” Truman said, seeing where Hancock was going. “You’re probably known around town, too. You aren’t just some worker. You’re the attorney for a man suing the federal government. Word spreads in small towns when out-of-towners come in. Back in Independence, the whole town would know if so-and-so’s uncle or aunt were visiting almost as soon as they arrived.”

Hancock said, “Mr. McLeod, I’ve come late to this party. I just read your letters this morning. And I don’t know what else you and Harry’ve talked about. Why don’t you fill in some details while we’re driving?”

“I didn’t leave much out of the letters. I had to make a compelling case to get some help out here. As I wrote in the last letter, I’ve gotten to where I don’t trust anyone official out here, even Ira, the local sheriff.” McLeod shook his head. “Ira. That one’s hard to explain. He’s such a straight arrow. Nothing bad ever happened to him except for the loss of his wife back in ’37. My wife and I were at Donald’s house for Christmas and he’d invited Ira over so he wouldn’t be alone on Christmas. He’d even…”

“Why were you at Mr. Bumble’s house for Christmas?” Hancock asked, his gaze never leaving the passing scenery outside his window. “I thought you were just his lawyer.”

McLeod’s face reddened at the question and Truman, half facing McLeod, leaned in closer. “Is there something you’ve left out of your letters, Mr. McLeod?”

“It’s not important, really,” McLeod said, “and it doesn’t have any bearing on my standing as Donald’s attorney.” He eased off the gas as he approached a slow-moving truck carrying crates of apples. “I didn’t think you’d come out here if I wrote it in a letter.”

“What is it, Mr. McLeod?” Truman asked, a bit more firmly.

“Donald, or Donnie, as my wife likes to call him, is my brother-in-law.”

Truman sat back and Hancock let out a little chuckle. “Let me guess. Your sister didn’t want to live on a farm for the rest of her life so she got outta there as fast as she could. ‘Cept that left Mr. Bumble as the only one to tend the farm when dear old mom and dad went to the great orchard in the sky. Then, when the government took the land, your wife got all guilty and ‘persuaded’ you to represent her brother.” The word “persuade” was said in such a way that each man, husbands all, exactly knew the meaning.

McLeod eyed the Texan sitting in his back seat. “That’s about eighty percent correct. How’d you know?”

“Because I was in a similar situation. Me and your wife played the same part and my sister and Mr. Bumble played the other part. ‘Course, in my case, it was the other war. Took me away from the farm and I never went back, despite what I told my sister. She hated me for a while, too. Spent the first Christmas after the war stuck at my podunk apartment in Austin.” Hancock turned from his window and looked at McLeod through the rearview mirror.

“What changed your sister’s mind to invite you back the next time,” McLeod said.

“Oh, she didn’t. After that, I met my future wife and she invited me to celebrate Christmas with her family.” Hancock’s voice sounded like it was far away. “Fact is, it wasn’t  until I went into law enforcement that Edna finally came around.”

McLeod had sat up straighter. “Did you say ‘law enforcement’? Are you a cop?”

Truman jumped in. “I recruited Carl straight out of the sheriff’s office in Texas.” He shifted in his seat so that he faced McLeod. “That’s beside the point, Mr. McLeod. Aside from the many details of dates, times, witnesses, et cetera, is there anything else you need to tell us before we proceed?”

McLeod shook his head then stopped. “Well, as Donald was feeling the heat, I took steps to get him to dictate and sign an affidavit. We actually drove all the way to Walla Walla to see one of my law school buddies we could trust. He’s a county judge out there. We got the affidavit four days before Donald was drafted.”

Truman noticed that Hancock was nodding. “Okay, that’s good,” he said. “Anything else? Anything at all?”

McLeod, finally realizing the fruit truck was not going to turn anytime soon, downshifted the Lincoln and sped past the truck. “No,” said McLeod, settling back into his casual driving position, the open highway before him.

“Tell us about the warehouse where Mr. Bumble worked.”

“Moore Shipping and Warehousing? They have branches all over the Columbia River, from Spokane to the Pacific, as well as Portland and Seattle. I didn’t know anything about them but my firm represented them once, before I was on board. The owner is Edward P. Moore, avid hunter and outdoorsman. Real Hemingway type, if you know what I mean.”

The conversation went on in this manner with Truman and Hancock asking questions about Richland, other people McLeod represented, and other theories the attorney had. Hancock, his eyes rarely leaving the view outside his window, caught the first glimpse of a river he assumed was the Columbia. He also was the first one to see the police lights.

McLeod slowed the car and stopped at the junction of two roads. Both he and Truman saw the police cars, now clearly visible about fifty yards away to their right.

“That the direction we’re going? Hancock asked.


“Good. Let’s stop and say hello.”


There’s more to this excerpt but I didn’t want to make today’s post too long.

Click here to read the rest of the excerpt at the main page on my website.

Click here for a list of the stores where Treason at Hanford is now available.

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