Thriller/ Historical fiction
Sept. 10, 2014
In this heart-racing thriller, a series of gruesome deaths ignite feuds that burn a path from the cotton fields to the courthouse steps, from the moss-draped bayous of Cajun country to the bordellos of 19th century New Orleans, from the Civil War to the Civil Rights era and across the Jim Crow decades to the Freedom Marches of the 1960s.
At the heart of the story is the apparent suicide of elderly Civil War Col. Augustine Chastaine who, two decades after the end of the Civil War, viciously slit the throat of his wife and then shot himself. Sheriff Raifer Jackson, however, believes that this may be a double homicide, and suspicion falls upon Jake Gold, an itinerant peddler with many secrets to conceal, not the least of which is that he is a Jewish immigrant in the post-Reconstruction South, where racial, religious and ethnic prejudice abounds.
Jake must stay one step ahead of the law, as well as the racist Knights of the White Camellia, as he interacts with blacks and whites, former slaves, Cajuns, crusty white field hands, and free men of color as he tries to keep one final promise before more lives are lost and he loses the opportunity to clear his name.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FROM JAZZ PIANIST, MEDIA HOST, LAWYER, AND PROFESSOR TO NOVELIST, MICHAEL H. RUBIN DEBUTS ‘THE COTTONCREST CURSE’
Historical thriller combines southern lore with murder and mystery in what political strategist James Carville calls a ‘powerful epic’
BATON ROUGE, La. – Garnering praise from New York Times best-selling authors and prominent political strategist James Carville, “The Cottoncrest Curse” (September 10, 2014, LSU Press) is an historically accurate, page-turning thriller from the multifaceted jazz pianist, media host, lawyer, law professor, and now debut novelist Michael H. Rubin.
“The Cottoncrest Curse” is set across multiple generations and tells a compelling and complex family story centered on itinerant peddler Jake Gold.
The bodies of an elderly colonel and his young wife are discovered on the staircase of their stately Louisiana plantation home. Within the sheltered walls of the Cottoncrest plantation, Augustine and Rebecca Chastaine have met their deaths under the same air of mystery as the colonel’s father, who committed suicide at the end of the Civil War. Locals whisper about the curse of Cottoncrest Plantation, but Sheriff Raifer Jackson knows that even a specter needs a mortal accomplice and rules the apparent murder/suicide a double homicide – with Jake as the prime suspect.
Assisted by his overzealous deputy, a grizzled Civil War physician, and the racist Knights of the White Camellia, the sheriff directs a manhunt through a village of former slaves, the swamps of Cajun country and the bordellos of New Orleans. But Jake’s chameleon-like abilities enable him to elude his pursuers. As a peddler who has built relationships by trading fabric, needles, dry goods and especially razor-sharp knives in exchange for fur, Jake knows the back roads of the small towns that dot the Mississippi River Delta, and Jake has many secrets to conceal, not the least of which is that he is a Jewish immigrant from Czarist Russia. Jake must stay one step ahead of his pursuers while trying to keep one final promise before more lives are lost and he loses the chance to clear his name.
“The Cottoncrest Curse” takes readers on the bold journey of Jake’s flight within an epic sweep of treachery and family rivalry ranging from the Civil War to the civil rights era as the impact of the 1893 murders ripples through the 20th century and violence besets the owners of Cottoncrest into the 1960s.
“Michael Rubin proves himself to be an exceptional storyteller in his novel, ‘The Cottoncrest Curse,’” says Carville, who knows Louisiana intimately. “The powerful epic is expertly composed in both its historical content and beautifully constructed scenery. I highly recommend picking up this book to catch a glimpse into life and conflict during the height of the Old South.”
Rubin hits the road this fall to discuss and sign copies of “The Cottoncrest Curse” on his cross-country book tour. As a nationally known legal ethicist and humorist, he has given more than 375 major presentations throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Find out more about The Cottoncrest Curse Blog Tour on the JKSCommunications Virtual Tour Page
Advanced Praise for
“The Cottoncrest Curse”
“Michael Rubin proves himself to be an exceptional storyteller in his novel, ‘The Cottoncrest Curse.’ The powerful epic is expertly composed in both its historical content and beautifully constructed scenery. I highly recommend picking up this book to catch a glimpse into life and conflict during the height of the Old South.”
– James Carville, political strategist and commentator
“In ‘The Cottoncrest Curse,’ Michael Rubin takes his readers on a compelling multigenerational journey that begins with the Civil War and ends in the present day. A textured story of plantation owners, the descendants of slaves, small-town Louisiana law enforcement, and Jewish merchants who live in and around a stately Louisiana plantation, ‘The Cottoncrest Curse’ is impeccably researched, deftly plotted, and flawlessly executed…Michael Rubin is a gifted and masterful storyteller. Highly recommended.”
– Sheldon Siegel, New York Times best-selling author of the Mike Daley/Rosie Fernandez novels
“Michael Rubin’s debut novel, ‘The Cottoncrest Curse,’ introduces us to a fresh new voice that weaves talented prose and tack-sharp detail into an intriguing story set in Louisiana’s bayou country. In a historically accurate whodunit that spans multiple generations, Rubin adroitly tackles cultural diversity, racial tension and the dangers of keeping hidden truths while moving the plot toward a satisfying, well-crafted conclusion.”
– Alan Jacobson, national bestselling author of “Spectrum”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael H. Rubin has conquered many worlds, and now he is branching out into new territory – fiction.
Rubin is a former professional jazz pianist and composer who has played in the New Orleans French Quarter and a former television and radio host. He is an accomplished lawyer who helps manage a law firm that has offices stretching
from California to Florida and from Texas and Louisiana to New York.
He has served as an adjunct law professor at the Louisiana State University Law School for more than 30 years, and is a nationally known speaker whose talks on topics such as legal ethics, negotiations, appellate advocacy, real estate, finance and trial tactics have been widely praised throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Rubin’s presentations combine an informal style with scholarship, thought-provoking comments and humor. A former professional musician, Rubin frequently closes his speeches by sitting down at the piano and singing humorous songs composed specifically for the occasion. The nationally distributed American Lawyer magazine, in writing about him, titled its article “CLE Troubadour.” Attendees at Rubin’s talks have given him standing ovations and enthusiastic ratings, including, “Best ethics talk I ever heard;” “Rubin was great;” and “Rubin alone was worth the price of admission.”
Rubin has presented more than 375 major lectures and papers. He is an author, coauthor, and contributing writer of 13 legal books and more than 30 articles for law reviews and periodicals, and his writings have been cited as authoritative by state and federal courts, including state supreme courts and federal appellate courts.
His latest legal book is “Louisiana Security Devices: A Précis” (Lexis/Nexis 2011), and his first novel, “The Cottoncrest Curse” is a legal thriller and multi-generational saga to be published September 10, 2014 by the award-winning LSU Press. The novel will be available nationwide in bookstores and as an e-book.
Q&A with Michael H. Rubin
You’ve been a successful attorney for years; what inspired you take on the new challenge of writing a thriller deeply rooted in Southern history?
As a Louisiana native and history buff, I’ve always been fascinated by Louisiana’s unique multicultural society, from the early French and Spanish settlers who displaced and later oppressed the native population to the 18th and 19th centuries’ freemen of color, the reprehensible slave trade, the numerous immigrant groups, and those who came south during America’s expansion. I sought to create a compelling story that ties the past to the present and deals with an evolving sense of what constitutes “justice.”
How did you develop the main character of Jake Gold, the chameleon-like peddler who becomes the subject of a massive manhunt?
My great-grandfather, a Russian immigrant who began his career as an itinerant peddler in the Deep South and who had encounters with marauding bands of white supremacists, was the inspiration for Jake. Although the setting is historically accurate, Jake and his adventures are purely fictional.
What is it about a southern plantation, usually romanticized in fiction, that drew you for the setting of the book?
Both before the Civil War and during and after Reconstruction, plantations were the crucibles for interactions between blacks and whites, between the educated and the unschooled, between southern “aristocracy” and the merchant class, between those whose livelihood was tied to the land and those whose only interest was commerce, and between those who enforced laws (both just and unjust) and those whose power emanated from guns and violence. All of these came together on Louisiana plantations and form the basis for the novel.
Why were you interested in making cultural diversity, racial tension, and the search for the truth the novel’s underlying themes?
Truth and identity are intertwined. “The Cottoncrest Curse” is concerned with three universal questions. Can we really know every significant aspect of our family’s history? How are our relationships affected by our preconceived stereotypes and by our own sense of identity? And, do we have an obligation to tell the unvarnished truth if it helps some but injures others?
What kind of research went into writing “The Cottoncrest Curse?”
A great deal of historical research underpins the entire book, ranging from events in the Civil War, the plantation system in the 1890s, the intricacies of sugar-cane agriculture, the background of the famous case of Plessy v. Ferguson (the “separate-but-equal” litigation that arose in Louisiana), which was overturned by the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954, and the Freedom Riders of the 1960s.