I think Kevin Barry Artt’s story is universal in its themes—An innocent caught up in a meat grinder, escape from oppression, David against Goliath.
But, as an American, I had to learn the history from scratch to tell the story right.
I grew up a white kid in suburban southern California, not a Black kid from South Central who had to worry about the LAPD. Police, courts, and laws were respected by everyone we knew. If there’d been a story about someone getting beaten up or falsely jailed by cops for sectarian reasons or framed by prosecutors with some kind of political agenda, everyone our family knew would have been gravely shocked to hear it. And the notion that a person could be persuaded to confess to something he hadn’t actually done was unthinkable. Growing up, I’d watched “Dragnet,” “Adam-12,” and “Columbo.” On those shows, nobody ever falsely confessed to anything, and if a detective sneezed near a suspect in the interrogation room, he apologized and said, “Excuse me,” before resuming the Miranda warnings.
The policing and court systems of Northern Ireland of the 1970s and the 1980s were another story. But we have a sorry history of bad policing and convicting innocents here in America. Just read the newspaper. So I guess there’s something universal about those things, too.
ABOVE THE GROUND is now available in paperback, hardcover, and ebook. The audiobook is coming soon!
True crime, courtroom drama, prison escape, Irish history, and the vindication of a man caught up in the unrelenting machine of sectarian and unjust policing and legal systems combine in this story of survival, redemption, and reconciliation between Kevin Barry Artt and Alan Miles, the son of Albert Miles and eyewitness to his father’s murder four decades earlier.