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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Framing Oswald

Novelist Nick Nero Digs for Truth in JFK Conspiracy

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If you're like most Americans, you've never believed that a lone gunman named Lee Harvey Oswald was solely responsible for the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In one recent poll, 80 percent of those surveyed disputed the findings of the Warren Commission and many of the doubters have embraced (or at least entertained) a variety of sometimes-contradictory conspiracy theories. A Chicago writer, former academic and retired entrepreneur, Nick Nero, claims to have discovered the unified field theory of conspiracy theories, which he begins to explore in his novel, 96 Frames, the first in a projected trilogy of page-turners linking JFK with Watergate and 911.

But although Nero has written 96 Frames as fiction, he asserts that reality lurks behind every clause. Like most anyone conscious at the time, Nero doubted the Warren Report, but he never seriously explored the conspiracy angle until an older cousin, whom he always admired, made what amounted to a deathbed confession. While serving in the Marines, the cousin met Frank Sturgis, a CIA operative who became infamous as one of the Watergate burglars. “A lot of ex-Marines were involved in the Bay of Pigs, the Kennedy assassination and Watergate,” Nero says. But we're getting ahead of the story.


Nero's cousin became an “outside contractor” for the CIA and, as Sturgis' close buddy, was drawn into a world that even in the official histories of the 1950s is replete with covert manipulation of world events on an almost Ian Fleming scale. In Nero's rendering of his cousin's statements, which forms the basis of 96 Frames, Kennedy's assassination resulted from the well-documented conspiracy behind the Bay of Pigs invasion, a plot by Cuban exiles and American corporate interests with CIA and DOD ties to overthrow Castro. Kennedy's unwillingness to play ball resulted in the invasion being squashed. The conspirators had scores to settle and enlisted the support of Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson (harboring his own reasons to hate the Kennedys) and the assistance of foreign gangsters, corporations and politicians. The specter of Eisenhower's military-industrial complex scuttles between the all parties, as does the well-connected George H. W. Bush. In the remaining two-thirds of Nero's trilogy, the fallout from the JFK plot continued to reverberate down the decades as a secretive cabal (and their successors?) sought to keep all ends tied together.


Nero spent three years exhaustively researching every jot and tangent of his cousin's narrative before transforming the material into fiction. According to Nero, most of his cousin's statements checked out. “I tried to keep the major historical characters as accurate as I could,” he explains. “Originally, I was going to write this as non-fiction, but no way would anyone believe the entire story."

Nero is obviously a believer, as the preface to 96 Frames makes clear. The novel, incisively written with clear characterization and narrative pull, awaits a publisher. Nero can be reached at nickynero@hotmail.com.