An Evening with King Tut, An Event
You Don't Want to Miss.
Aug. 31, 6 – 9 p.m.,
Field Museum, Chicago

Free Readers Ensemble 

An Evening with King Tut, An Event
You Don't Want to Miss.
Aug. 31,
6 – 9 p.m.,

Field Museum, Chicago


The Ghost Ocean
by Richard Benke

review by Erika DuLac

The Ghost Ocean is the first novel of Oak Park native
Richard Benke, who has been a journalist in the West
and Southwest for more than 30 years.  With his words
Benke paints a vivid image of our Southern border
areas as well as a taste of the complexly intertwined
lives of those living there.  You will get inside the
heads of legal and illegal immigrants, ranchers,
miners and environmentalists and the policing bodies
that try to make the laws work for the benefit of all.

The story begins and ends a gripping murder mystery,
but you’d better keep a map and scorecard with you as
the 50+ characters will have your head spinning.
(University of New Mexico Press)

New Mystery Draws on Violence of Drug
And Environmental politics

“Benbe has perfectly balanced both sides of the border and
both sides w/the ecological war by revealing all its human participants simply as human beings, slowly, agonizingly
coming together.  ~Max Evans, renowned author of Madam Millie and The Rounders

ALBUQUERQUE, NM—In a first novel, Richard Benke illuminates the shady world of environmental politics and the drug war plaguing the US/Mexico border in Ghost Ocean
($24.95 hardcover, University of New Mexico Press).

Ghost Ocean is a novel of modern ranching in an area of the Southwest where tradition is complicated by a very large array
of conflicts—violence of drug traffickers along the border, the release of wolves in areas where ranchers have run cattle for hundreds of years, and the interaction of Anglo, Hispanic,
and Native American cultures. In addition to the profusion of competing cultures is the profusion of competing jurisdictions including border, immigration, customs, land, forest, and
wildlife agencies and the confluence of privately funded environmentalists who hope to help ranchers survive while
other factions want cattle grazing to disappear altogether.

The novel abounds with love, tragedy, atrocity, and the
strength of faith and commitment to a cause. In the end, the unexpected prevails.

The mystery involves the disappearance of Millicent Braden, a child drawn to the wolves that her rancher-parents abhor. Her family cannot fathom foul play. Across the border in Mexico, Don Pedro (“Pete”) Alderete is also bereaved by his child’s disappearance. Both families are forced to confront the harsh realities of their ways of life.

When Will Mann, a federal investigator who knows the Ghost Ocean (an ancient seabed/rangeland), is called onto the scene,
he must reassemble the pieces of a shattered story—hoping to not only solve the crimes but also to make a life for himself
while patrolling the vast and lonely Ghost Ocean.

Richard (Dick) Benke is a correspondent for the Associated Press in Albuquerque.

Ghost Ocean is available at bookstores or directly from the University of New Mexico Press. To order, please call (800) 249-7737 or visit

A native of Oak Park, IL, Benke grew up on the West Coast
but returned to Chicago where he graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in creative writing. For more than
thirty years, Benke has been a journalist, first for the Pasadena Star-News. Now with the Associated Press, he won its
Enterprise Award for his coverage of drug trafficking on the American/Mexican border. His work with the AP has led him to research and report on diverse topics ranging from grazing and land management to prescription drug laws. The issues Benke has covered for the Albuquerque Journal have provided good material for Ghost Ocean, his first novel and a mystery that encourages readers to take a hard look at the modern-day crime and violence prompted by environmental and drug politics.

Benke bides his time between Rio Rancho and Eagle Nest, NM, and Santa Barbara, CA.


© Oak Park Journal
published by Suburban Journals of  Chicago Inc.

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