Unyielding Destiny
by Spiros Gratsias
Hildebrand Books

"Roy Easten was an honorable man, a true hero and leader of men. Frank was a low-life criminal."

Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, the maximum-security prison on an island near San Francisco, is supposedly escape-proof. In 1962, after twenty-eight years of exposure to the island's unforgiving damp, the structure is deteriorating. Inmate Frank Morris, adopted son of New York's Cabineri crime family, is sent to Alcatraz after numerous prison breaks. He is one of three to make a successful escape into the deadly waters of San Francisco Bay. Swimming to freedom, he returns to New York and criminality. But Frank cannot forget Roy Easten, a young lieutenant who died to protect him in the Korean War. At Alcatraz years later, a fleeting encounter with a young visitor wearing Roy's dog tags convinces him his hero has, in a way, found him posthumously. 1978 finds Roy's son, Scott, fighting organized crime as an assistant D.A. Will Frank's gratitude to Roy motivate him to save his son's life and risk the mafia's wrath?

Frank Morris did use his I.Q. of one-hundred-and thirty-three to lead the 1962 break from Alcatraz, but the plot exercises generous poetic license with other facts of his life in this tense historical thriller. No one knows what became of Morris after the escape. Still, his fictional ties to the mob and his reunion with them are plausible given the violent robbery that eventually saw him incarcerated at Alcatraz. Like the rest of the public, Frank does not know the fates of John and Clarence Anglin, his fellow escapees. He believes they drowned. Scott's vivid imagination alternately lets him empathize with prisoners' plights and revel in their guards' authority. Because Roy is deceased, Scott and Frank both idealize him in their memories, and Frank often feels that he can never equal Roy's goodness. Fans of character-driven fiction involving possible solutions to historical mysteries may enjoy this novel.

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