What Others are Saying

James Brown's Favorite Uncle The Hal Neely Story

I love biographies and music.  So what could be better than James Brown’s Favorite Uncle by Jerry Cowling?  As it turns out, the book is not about an actual relative of James Brown, but one of his major mentors, supporters, agents, producers, collaborators, and legends in the recording industry, Hal Neely. Cowling’s book includes wonderful autobiographical chapters by Neely himself.  His life seems to move in distinct acts, the first, his story as a young trumpet player in the Midwest of the swing era, then off to the army during WW2, then as a salesman for a company that manufactured records, which led to the next act, Neely as record producer, music wheeler and dealer, mover and shaker, and discoverer of great talent.  One of those talents was James Brown, who was under contract with Neely for decades. The story is complicated and complex and if filled with twists and turns as fortunes and professional destinies change hands.
There is a lot of fun gossip in the book, backstage and behind the scenes, all of it informative and entertaining.  And there are the critical decisions that changed people’s lives, the sometimes dysfunctional family spirit of small record labels turning out hit after hit, creating rhythm and blues, rock and roll, soul, country, and bluegrass as music history is being made.
Make no mistake; Neely is the protagonist of the piece.  And he is a captivating one.  Neely was a combination of innocents and street smarts.  Each episode of his life becomes an adventure in contradictions, but his dynamic urge to move ahead creatively forged a substantial wake around him.
In the later part of his life, Neely meets the composer Roland Hanneman (John St. John,) kindred spirit and surrogate son, who becomes his guardian angel for the latter part of his life.  Hanneman promised Neely on his deathbed to make sure his story was told, and this book represents the fulfillment of that promise.  Neely, who should be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, comes alive in this engaging biography.

-Robert Frist, director and best-selling, award-winning author

Sins of the Family


Blend in a helping of history.  Mix with a touch of mystery.  And in some quirky characters and season with a touch of murder and mayhem.  Sins of the Family is one tasty dish.

Kathleen Walls

Author of Man Hunt—The Eric Rudolph Story


Delusions and faily secrets spawn violence in this jarring thriller.  Jerry Cowling has spun a page-turner that will captivate y our imagination.  Prepare to delve into the depths of human depravity for an experience of white-knuckled suspense.

Lydia Filzen

Author of Firetrail


In his thrilling novel Sins of the Family, Jerry Cowling delves deep into the psyche of a killer drawing you into a web of suspense, bizarre characters and unexpected twists and turns.  Cowling weaves a complex story that puts you on the edge of your seat anticipating every page.

T.A. Ridgell

Author of Operation Stiletto


Lincoln in the Basement


LINCOLN IN THE BASEMENT is intelligently written and
psychologically insightful with good character development. 
A great combination of the historical and fanciful. 
Both emotional and thought provoking.

Jaclyn Lurker
Cryer’s Valley

Sure to provoke controversy, Cowling’s intriguing Civil War
tale of a Lincoln doppelganger is set in a skillfully described war-time
White House, populated with engagingly drawn characters, drawn by Edwin Stanton
into a scenario of “what-might-have-been.”

David Cleutz
War & Remembrance—A Civil War Tale


Jerry Cowling’s writing is a pleasure.  He spins a tale
rooted in fact and generates plausible fiction—it could have happened that way! 
Cowling’s interesting, engaging characters breathe three-dimensional substance
into names hitherto known only through our reluctant survey of dry historical
tomes.  LINCOLN IN THE BASEMENT delivers a taut narrative far outpacing the
horse and steam ear it inhabits, spiced with the aromas and black power, the
pungent atmosphere of human conflict.

Harry G. Pellegrin
Low End

A fantastical novel that is a must read
for all Civil War enthusiasts. 
I could not put the story down.

William Hardy
Hell’s Island


Jerry Cowling’s imagination twists historical factual
reality into a great “what-if” scenario laced with emotion and drama that
develops into a plausible tale that could have been the way it was. 
His writing weaves the thoughts and feelings of the fictional characters
immersed in this make-believe play into the lives of the historical principals;
the Lincolns, and War Secretary Stanton, creating a flow of events that lead to
the inevitable end…the certainty of Mr. Lincoln’s death. 
But what a journey he takes us on to get to that point. 
A good read, to be sure.”

Jim Chaplin
Tampa Writers Alliance