Betty Brandt Passick is an Iowa native who relocated to the Twin Cities in the 1980s, long after endless black loamy corn fields, waves of prairie grasses and glorious sunrises had left their indelible imprint. The result: her books are infused with earthy soul, faith-isms and Midwestern values. "Gangster in Our Midst" (2017) is her third book.
Passick will hold a meet and greet noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20 at Chapter 2 Books, 226 Locust St., Hudson
Passick describes "Gangster in Our Midst" as a unique, trendy and sometimes wacky read that tells the neglected true Iowa story of an Italian American man who came to a small Iowa town in the early 1920s - eventually died of old age and was buried there. Ninety years later, locals still said they didn't know much about the "mystery man," other than most believed he was a bookkeeper for Al Capone. She tells the story through factual FBI and police reports, and newspaper stories, and embellishes the narrative with myriad tales - tender, funny and unforgiving - from a dozen or so local octogenarians who knew the gangster best.
Additional stories about the town's gangster came Passick's way soon after the book's launch in August 2017 that were included in a second edition (April 2018). The book is available through local independent bookstores, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Read about other books she's written at www.bettybrandtpassick.com.
Prohibition-Era gangster literary fans will enjoy "Gangster In Our Midst." Also, those who grew up in small town America. Farming communities. Train lovers. Plus, WWI, WWII and the Great Depression historians, antique car and boxing enthusiasts, people of faith, those who on occasion find themselves asking the question: How does a just, loving God appropriate forgiveness for the most heinous and calamitous sins?
"I was recently interviewed by a TV cable station for an author event," she adds. "Asked about how I happened to write the 250-page mystery novel, I responded: When I first began my research, I didn't know whether the story about the town's gangster and his association with Capone was folklore - or for real.
"When I found the gangster's name, along with Capone's, in a couple credible sources, I got pretty excited. What author wouldn't give their right arm to write a book about a gangster?"