Why I Wrote Broken Eagle
Since I can remember, injustice has inspired me to take action, often via pen, typewriter or computer. My decision to become a lawyer was fueled by this same motivation. Representing the families of people killed or individuals injured in aviation disasters and other accidents has only reaffirmed the goal of telling the stories of people harmed by the negligence and intentional acts of people, corporations and governments that often act with impunity.
No group is more unfairly affected than our military men and women. When the products they have no choice but to use injure or kill them, they find out they have far fewer rights to recover for their injuries than their civilian neighbors. Trying to get redress, they face a phalanx of laws, rules and court decisions that greatly narrow their paths to recovery. What iss worse, unlike the civilian world, the findings of the post-event investigations are kept from them, based in part on the strange notion that truth is more likely to emerge in a secret process than in an open one. So, military people and their families face the double insult of not being able to recover for their loss and not knowing what really happened.
So, it was time to tell this story. We need to rethink how we treat the fine men and women who sacrifice their time, energy and lives for us on a daily, 24/7 basis. We need to change the laws and make accountable the manufacturers, government officials and agencies that currently are untouchable. We must make sure the military has the best products and ensure that when something is defectively designed or manufactured and service people are injured they have the same rights to be made whole as the people whom they protect.
Powerful, intelligent and breathtakingly beautiful, the wild horses of Corolla have been roaming North Carolina’s Outer Banks for over 500 years and at one time numbered in the thousands. Now just over a hundred remain, restricted to a small portion of the maritime forest in the northern outer banks, they are threatened by development, sparring government entities, and hunters.
Big money interests intent on developing seaside mansions and condos and the local businesses and governments seduced by h promise of unlimited revenues, are all eager to proceed, regardless of the costs to the horses or the environment, ignoring the fact that it will change forever this tranquil strip of land between the Atlantic Ocean and the Currituck Sound. When a visiting equine vet sees disturbing health problems in the horses and discovers that development is poisoning the grasses on which the horses graze, she is murdered in her hotel room before she can make her findings pubic,, disguised to look like a heart attack.
Contacted by the family to investigate, and with his secretary’s prodding, attorney Jake Baird agrees to look into the case and sends retired Navy Captain Stanford Kemp, who has now relocated to NC and is dating Jake’s animal-loving secretary, Florence, to look into it. Kemp starts finding things that don’t add up. Eventually, through some twists and turns and great personal danger, Jake finds a complex conspiracy that is only unraveled through a most unlikely lead.
Billy Brennan learned early how to fail, and by the age of thirty-five he had gotten good at it. He barely got out of high school and flunked out of both the four-year and junior colleges he tried, and was even kicked out of technical school.
Regardless of what work Billy tried—factory, hotel, home improvement store and convenience store—nothing lasted longer than a couple of years. His personal life was no better. His marriage lasted only four years, just long enough to father two daughters. Although successful producing the children, he was hopeless at rearing them.
But there was one thing Billy could always do and do well—fish. He was a natural, and caught fish when everyone else pulled up empty lines. Ultimately, Billy realized that the water was his calling, and worked hard at making a living as a commercial fisherman. Billy often said he didn’t try to make a fortune on each sale—just enough to get to the next one. That was Billy—straightforward, fair and honest, with a deep sense of right and wrong. He was becoming successful, and even thought about adding a second boat.
But things in Gulf bothered him. The big fishing corporations—subsidiaries of conglomerates—paid no attention to environmental concerns. They continuously broke the law, and were devouring the Gulf’s resources at an alarming pace. The oil companies were polluting more than anyone knew. Billy loved the Gulf and wanted to stop these harmful actions. He began joining environmental groups and made presentations to local, state and federal governments. In the process, he made enemies. He was exposing the bad guys.
One day, Billy’s boat was found in the Gulf, adrift twenty miles west of St. Petersburg, Florida, with no one on board. The Coast Guard searched for a week but never found Billy.
His two daughters, Caroline and Shelley, were certain foul play was involved—Billy was too good a sailor to have just fallen overboard. After months of trying to convince the authorities of their cause, the daughters decided to travel to North Carolina to try to enlist the help of attorney Jake Baird. After a long meeting, Jake finally agreed to look into the matter, leading him into a fascinating and dangerous exploration of the Gulf, its enemies and its friends, and a hazardous, complex and exciting journey to find out what really happened to Billy.
Passengers assume that when they board a commercial jet transport aircraft—commonly called an “airliner”-- that the aircraft’s design and functionality have been reviewed and declared safe by the responsible government agency, the Federal Aviation Administration. Little do they know that the government delegates design authority to the manufacturers in such programs as the Designated Engineering Representative, where the company employee takes off his company hat, puts on his FAA hat, and approves design modifications for the FAA, and the Delegation Option Authority, where a manufacturer sends a letter to the FAA—without engineering, test or analytical data, stating that the design meets all FAA requirements.
So when Centennial Airlines Flight 620 crashes due do a design malfunction, the subsequent legal investigation reveals flaws in the FAA’s certification process and cover-ups by individuals at the highest levels of the nation’s commercial aviation and governmental communities. The pursuit of justice for the victims of the crash produces one road block after another in the investigation and in the courts for attorney Jake Baird. Fighting mega-corporations, the federal government, and crooked judges, Jake encounters rebuke and personal danger as he exposes the nation’s flawed aircraft safety system all while pursuing the reasons why one hundred forty-six people were killed.
"Broken Eagle is impressive on many levels. James Crouse brings you inside the mind of a trial attorney as he investigates and litigates a complex aviation case. Crouse's personal experience as a pilot and as an aviation law litigator combine to provide a vivid picture of the technical and legal issues involved as the hero of the story, Jake Baird battles to solve the mystery behind the crash of an experimental aircraft while also working against forces of the military-industrial complex who will do anything to stop him. This is a great book for anyone interested in a terrific thriller."
- Lt. Colonel John "Jack" Veth (USAF, Ret.),
Vietnam veteran fighter pilot, SR-71(Blackbird) Aircraft Commander, and aviation litigation attorney
"Fighting the system is not for the faint-hearted. They will find it extremely difficult to recruit powerful support. Those who enjoy government largesse will not wish to lose it. Those in military service will be torn between the demands of justice and their oath of loyalty. Those who fight the system must be prepared to fight alone.
James Crouse has written a gripping book about such a hero. Crouse reminds us that below the smooth surface of supposedly exemplary societies there lurks another world; from its murky and evil depths few return victorious and none return undamaged. Read about this world in Broken Eagle. It may inspire you to assist those who find themselves in it."
- Omar Malik,
Accident Prevention Consultant, formerly Pilot RAF and Captain, British Airways
"In a riveting exposé using well-developed characters and a thrilling plot, Crouse draws from a thorough knowledge of both the law and aviation to expose the tempting flaws that can corrode character and morals when government and contractors have too much money and too little principles when developing new weapons systems. It’s a great read."
- William S Lawrence,
Colonel USMC (Ret'd); Aviator and Engineering Test Pilot; Aircraft Accident Investigative Consultant
"It has been said that “billions of dollars, political clout, and outright lying cannot overcome the laws of aerodynamics.” Author James T. Crouse proves that adage in his intriguing novel of deception and murder about a totally flawed aircraft, the XV-11 tilt rotor, that is pushed into production by a group of corrupt government, military and civilian contractors bent on serving their own narrow interests and financial gain at any cost.
This story unfortunately tells what too often happens in government-industry relationships, and Crouse’s expertise in aircraft knowledge and the legal process provides a great authenticity to the dramatic, compelling tale. Crouse’s hero, attorney Jake Baird, undertakes a harrowing journey to stop this evil intent and defend the nation’s warriors from dying in a defective machine deployed way before it was ready. It’s a great read!!"
- Tom McHale,
Major Airline Captain (Retired) and US Army Helicopter Pilot (Retired)
More Comments on Broken Eagle:
Purchase Broken Eagle from a local book store,
Create Space, or click on one of the links below:
Amazon Barnes & Noble Indie Reads
"Your book is the bomb. I can't put it down. Am halfway through already and just started it this morning. Later: Just finished it. It was awesome! I am going to order copies for some friends of mine."
- Florida Businesswoman.
"Jim. Just finished it. Loved it. I woke up early this am, made my coffee, and first thing was to read the last chapters. One of those kind of books. Like a Grisham book has done to me in past. I hope it takes off or already has! Not sure the distinction between Crouse,Turow or Grisham other than they are well known authors already!!!"
- Chicago Attorney.
"I enjoyed the book and particularly, the intrigue. You made the characters, including Jake Baird, believable and interesting. What I enjoyed most was the thrilling encounter with the Taliban and the cover by the A-10’s. So, in all, the book obviously is a labor of love. Well done."
- Washington, D.C. Attorney.
"I finished reading Broken Eagle and enjoyed the suspense, the information about the military and learning a lot about aircraft. I know this is a work of fiction…[but] it is so believable……..and makes the reader wonder if this could actually happen! A little bit frightening!"
- Retired School Counselor, Shelby, N.C.