“The People’s Pile” by Jack Mason is a short story collection, but that’s not the interesting part. The interesting part is what Jack Mason did with the information he gathered. After retirement from the Peace Corps, Jack Mason was living in South America, and he decided to connect the dots when he heard about a child abuse case in the area. He knew from his work as a Peace Corps adviser that few people who served in this country were aware of such crimes, and that most victims were children. With this in mind, he set out to make a personal investigation of the alleged perpetrators; and what he found may just change the way we look at what Jack Mason has done throughout his life What does Jack Mason do?.
The story starts when the main character, Jack Mason, approaches a local police detective for help with unresolved crime. Mason tells the detective that he’s heard that these criminals are highly organized and that they use the names of dead soldiers to cover their tracks; and he wants to help find out if this is indeed the case. The detective asks him if he knows of anyone like that. Jack Mason says he has a friend – a drug dealer who used to supply soldiers with marijuana on a regular basis; and he needs the case solved quickly. As it turns out, this same detective has long known Mason, though Mason had never told him much.
Following the discovery of the grave where the bodies of two soldiers were found, another body is found nearby; and it turns out that the victims were drug dealers. This book’s plot is a complex one involving a range of complex relationships and events that unfold over several years. And what does jack Mason do? He goes digging for the truth – and sometimes making some very personal choices along the way.
I enjoyed reading about the various characters and situations; and how much relevance and depth each one got. My favorite character, however, was Mason; and his relationship with the author, Alex Berenson, was at times interesting. I thought the insights Mason got into the workings of the powerful Drug Company were extremely well written. Alex was basically his publicist, though privately he really cared. The two of them worked together – and always talked about how great their work was going.
The story’s investigation was detailed and thorough; and at times I felt the pressure to do the same thing myself. The book is chock full of case histories and other bits and pieces of information, and at times I wanted to follow it through to its conclusion. However, after following the story to the end, I didn’t have to; and I can say that’s a good thing, because the mystery didn’t get answered!
The final chapter of What does jack Mason do? ties up the loose ends, but doesn’t answer the question: “What does Jack Mason do?” I suppose that there isn’t a definite answer in the book; but one can say that the book was well written, informative, and had a good plot. And that answers the question…