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Based on Personal Experience

Author Interview
Ted Ballantyne Author Interview

The Case of the Golden Helmet is the story of one man’s investigation into a complicated case of tax evasion that spans two countries. What was the inspiration for the setup behind this story?

The inspiration was personal. Over 40 years ago, when I was a junior auditor with the Canada Revenue Agency, just after graduating from university, I had a very similar experience and the file was referred to special investigations. I left before I knew if it had been accepted – starting my career in the financial services industry. The character, Al Edwards, is very much based on the much younger me.

I enjoyed the mystery at the heart of this novel. Was this planned before writing or did it develop organically while writing?

The story was both planned and organic in a way. The story, as noted above, was based on personal experience. I tried to think about what resources the special investigations section would have at its disposal in today’s world of electronic communications and the ability to transfer or move monies without the need of physical cheques, etc. At the same time as I wrote, I developed ideas of what might happen in a certain instance. For instance, the discovery of the safe in Jacqueline’s house came to me as I was writing the section where the authorities were searching her home. Similarly, the cars being towed that were parked at the Tim Hortons seemed a similar extension of leaving cars there for a prolonged period of time.

As to the two-part structure of the story, I wanted an investigation and then resolution, I thought about the old Dragnet series and the original Law and Order TV show, where there was an investigation, told from the side of the investigators, and then the trial.

Tom is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?

Thank you for that compliment. I actually knew a man of that name many years ago when I was in the Canadian navy between high school and university. (As a kid I had want to join the RCMP, but when I applied, I was a quarter inch to short by the standards of the day.)

In any event, I thought of Tom as sort of modern-day Joe Friday, a just the facts sort of guy. As I wrote his character developed, he gained a wife, he flirted to get information and became a real investigator. He, of course, took direction from the higher ups, but also took initiative to dig into details and think outside the box. As example is taking an appraiser to an open house supposedly as his wife. I don’t think many people would think about doing that.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Good question. Since the editor really seemed to like my writing style I’ve been thinking about another book. (The current one was spread over two years as we are retired and we like to travel and I was doing other things.)

I’ve done the set-up for a possible book dealing with a protection racket being run in a visible minority community. It’s run by people outside of the community, but the result (which is noticed by the police) is a dramatic reduction in crime in that community. Preliminary audits conducted by CRA auditors determine that funds are being paid to a third-party organization. But preliminary investigation indicates such organization does not exist other than as a recipient for the money transfers. So, of course, as well as being illegal, it also isn’t paying income tax.

As I have no personal experience with that type of investigation, I’ll need to do more research than for the first book, so I really don’t know when it will be ready. However, my wife seems to have faith in my keeping busy and has suggested a location for a possible third book. So, I guess, I’ll keep busy and out of her hair for the foreseeable future.

Tom Thomas is a Special Investigator with the Canada Revenue Agency.

Tom Thomas, a CRA special investigator, is assigned the case of an individual who been been taken to court for failure to file tax returns. The individual filed four years of returns with made up numbers, including substantial losses. Tom becomes determined to get this miscreant. A the investigation proceeds, Tom discovers a house full of fine art and collectibles, and when diamonds and a false passport are discovered, his pursuit becomes single minded.

Fans of crime procedurals will enjoy the real-life sleuthing behind this type of tax evasion and the courtroom antics as opposing lawyers try to win their case for and against an unrepentant tax resister.

The Case Of The Golden Helmet

Tom Thomas is nothing if not dedicated to his job with the Canada Revenue Agency. He devotes most of his life to ensuring taxes are paid, laws are obeyed, and citizens hold up their part of the bargain as tax-payers. When he is given a case that would have stumped any lesser investigator, Tom vows to bring the perpetrator to justice no matter how long it takes or how much groundwork he must put into the case. As he begins to follow the trail, Tom finds his way thwarted at almost every turn. Not one to give in, he digs in and applies every principle and resource to which he has access and sets out to pin one Harold Gerber.

The Case of the Golden Helmet, by Ted Ballantyne, is the story of one man’s investigation into a quite complicated case of tax evasion that spanned two countries and required the resources of multiple offices. To complicate matters, the perpetrator, Harold Gerber, engaged in a well-thought out money laundering scheme in order to avoid paying taxes. Gerber, the mastermind behind the complicated string of events, has his own simple reasons for refusing to pay taxes. His reasons are quite simple and straightforward, but they aren’t enough to keep him from paying his dues.

I was truly amazed at all of the background knowledge that went into the construction of what could have been a very basic plot. From cover to cover, Ballantyne details every phone call, connection, and favor called in in order to bring Gerber down. The author writes in a style that is technical and specific to the profession of tax investigation but manages to keep the dialogue from becoming bogged down in verbiage above the reader’s head.

This is quite a different style of realistic fiction and isn’t for all readers. I can’t say the book is anticlimactic, but readers who are looking for a book with drama or action will not find his particular style up their alley. Ballantyne has put a lot of work into creating a very specific type of read, and he has succeeded in creating a book for fans of technical writing–not drama.

Ballantyne’s characters are well written, his plot engaging, and the technical way in which he writes about tax laws is thoughtful and shows an unmatched dedication. The Case of the Golden Helmet is a compelling crime novel with a unique mystery that will hook fans of crime procedurals.

Pages: 143 | ASIN: B08KHCYTBP

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