Union spy finds kidnap ring in second mystery novel

Using the pen name S.L. Stoner, union attorney Susan Stoner has published the second installment in her series of historical mystery novels.

Drawing on meticulously researched local history, the books follow fictional trade union spy Sage Adair as he meets up with actual historic individuals in the Portland of the early 1900s. In the first installment, Timber Beasts, Adair uncovered a timber fraud, learned of the savage exploitation of loggers, and pursued a murderer. Land Sharks, the second in the series, finds Sage in a search for two disappeared union organizers, which leads him to discover a true-to-life Portland underground where the unwary are shanghaied — kidnapped and placed in service aboard ocean-going ships bound for whaling regions or China.

Stoner, who is staff attorney at Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757, researched the book by reading period accounts and digging through the archives of the San Francisco Maritime Museum.

“By the end of the book, readers will know more about the history of shanghaiing and the major players involved in it than most historians,” Stoner told the Labor Press. “Shanghaiing is how [business leaders] kept their shipping costs down.”

The book also contains an account of canneries on the Columbia River, and of a real-life massacre of Chinese gold miners in Eastern Oregon.

Stoner will read from Land Sharks Thursday, Feb. 10, at 7:30 p. M,. at Powell’s Books on Hawthorne, 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd.

The two books are available at most local bookstores, including Barnes and Noble, Borders, Murder by the Book, and Annie Bloom’s Books, as well as union-represented Powell’s Books, the Oregon Historical Society, and online at www.yamhillpress.com.

Stoner said Dry Rot, a third book in the series, is in the final editing stage; it relates true tales of construction fraud in city contracts that led to a bridge collapse. Black Drop, a fourth book, deals with the 1903 visit to Portland of then-President Teddy Roosevelt, and is several chapters from completion.

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