Friday, May 28, 2010

Writing Prompt For The Holiday Weekend

Politics and dirty dealing---the stuff of which commercial fiction is made. If you're in the mood to write and need a flash of inspiration or the skeleton of a plot, look no further than real life.

When the feds sent attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to Chicago, the political class in Illinois grew increasingly unhappy. Mr. Fitzgerald went after the corruption that greases the skids in the Land of Lincoln, and he found success in prosecuting governors, friends of the mayor, and others with their hands in the till.

How to get rid of him with a certain amount of finesse?

The son of ward-heeler and patronage army leader Don Tomczak was a lawyer. The senior Mr. Tomczak had organized the campaign workers for Rahm Emanuel and Mr. Emanuel easily won election in his Congressional district, so the same tricks were used. Keep in mind that Mr. Tomczak is a Chicago Democrat. His son ran in neighboring Will County as a Republican. Dad got the patronage army down there just the same, got out the vote, and Jeff won election.

A state's attorney had to make a splash and generate buzz if he was to be put forward as Patrick Fitzgerald's replacement. Give Mr. Fitzgerald a promotion, have a Democratic Senator (Dick Durban would suffice) recommend Jeff Tomczak in his place, and that would be the end of the heat on the Chicago Machine and Mayor Daley in particular.

When little Riley Fox was found dead in 2003, Jeff Tomczak was the Will County State's Attorney, looking to make his mark.

Local investigators ruled out sexual predators immediately and went after the father. Fourteen hours of interrogation later, the mild-mannered and distraught man broke down.

Case closed. Jeff Tomczak walked into court and prosecuted Kevin Fox for the sexual assault and murder of his daughter. The evidence was thin. They went ahead with the trial before DNA analysis was completed.

Kevin Fox spent eight months in prison, fighting to clear his name. He was falsely accused, pressured to confess, and then falsely incarcerated. Only when the DNA evidence was finally brought forward was he set free.

The Fox family sued and won their case in 2007. In all that time, however, the Will County sheriffs did nothing more to track down the real murderer.

The citizens of Will County found out that they'd been had by the Chicago Machine and Jeff Tomczak was soon out of a job. The dream to replace Patrick Fitzgerald and put an end to the federal investigations went with him. Former Governor Rod Blagojevich is one who deeply wishes it hadn't happened that way.

A girl murdered in 2003, and for seven years the case went unsolved. The FBI got involved, did a proper investigation, and today a registered sex offender has been charged with the crime.

There's the novel you're itching to write. Political hacks manipulate an election for their own purposes, a child is murdered, and the drive to gain higher office devestates the life of a family already devastated by their loss. The protagonist fights to clear his name and find justice for his little girl.

It's what good commercial fiction is made of. Unfortunately, it's often non-fiction in Illinois.

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