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By J.P. Maximus

Indie Reader Discovery Award

Student newspaper colleagues and best friends Mark Macqueen and Jerome Washington  take up positions as speechwriters for opposing Powell University student body presidential candidates. In the midst of murders of minority students, riots and scary white supremacist activities, Mark and Jerome stay level, focusing on the power of words to change their community and the world. African-American candidate Tyrone Biggs and his opponent – white football hero Andy Caruthers – each preach unity and justice, but Biggs uses Jerome’s words to recount injustices as the national and international media highlight the election as a proxy for the nation’s troubles.

There’s action, eloquence and heartache. Author J. P. Maximus lifts THE SPEECHWRITER above ordinariness with discussions of race through the lens of campus and small town life. Mark and Jerome represent the ideal – lifelong friends of different races steeped in the values of scholarship and academic life. Suddenly, circumstances hurl them into extraordinary situations. With a deft touch, Maximus builds a murder mystery inside of political unrest, throwing in restrained romance and a daring plot twist at a Klan-type rally.

THE SPEECHWRITER uncovers the power of words to change minds, especially with the lighting speed of modern communication. Jerome (and Jerome’s brother, Elijah) use the campus newspaper website and social media to amplify their arguments and enlist the support of not just the town but of the country and the world. Maximus pulls off this tricky feat by the power of his story.

THE SPEECHWRITER turns its own pages as the reader devours elegant meditations on justice and equality while hungrily searching for clues on who is murdering minority students at Powell University. The town of High Valley represents the ideal of a southern, liberal college town that suddenly finds itself in turmoil over race. The problems just under the surface find a path to rise up. Thankfully, Maximus gives his characters nuance, from the thoughtful police chief to the pedantic university chancellor, Dr. Thomas Wallace. Wallace guides Mark and Jerome as they write their way through the turbulence and chaos.

THE SPEECHWRITER folds suspense and action into a well-written and important story. With a great plot and well-drawn characters, J.P. Maximus gives the reader a tale of action, eloquence and heartache. Don’t miss it.

~Greg Rideout for IndieReader