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New Book Reviews

Close Encounters of the Fatal Kind:
Suspicious Deaths, Mysterious Murders, and Bizarre Disappearances in UFO History
By Nick Redfern

New Page Books
A division of The Career Press, Inc.
220 West Parkway, Unit 12
Pompton Plains, NJ 07444
2014, 225 pages, US $15.99
ISBN: 978-1-60163-311-8

Reviewed by Brent Raynes

Once again, author Nick Redfern has his thumb well placed on the vital pulse of the subject matter he presents. His material always complex and controversial, Redfern ferrets out numerous details and documents that are the earmark of a skilled and determined researcher/author. Close Encounters of the Fatal Kind tackles a wide-range of disturbing incidents across the globe; cases of unusual human deaths and disappearances; some that appeared to have been human caused and some perhaps alien caused, but no doubt case histories of the most frightening and disturbing varieties.

Appropriately, right from the very start of chapter one, Redfern gives us a sobering eyebrow raising introduction to both potential causes; beginning with Puget Sound’s Maury Island case of June 1947, involving a donut shaped UFO suffering apparent mechanical difficulty that reportedly discharged quantities of hot slag-like materials and very thin metallic debris onto and around a boat that was under contract to salvage lumber from the waters of Puget Sound. Boat pilot Harold Dahl claimed that his teenaged son had been injured and the family dog killed by the falling materials. Days later this would be followed by the crash of a Boeing B-29 aircraft piloted by two military men, carrying alleged UFO fragments with them from this site, headed to Ohio’s Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. This case has one of ufology’s first frightening MIB encounters reported later by the boat pilot Harold Dahl. A reporter Ted Morello of the United Press warned Kenneth Arnold (famous for his UFO sighting on June 24th of that year that set off the modern “flying saucer era”), who was investigating the Maury Island case for magazine editor Ray Palmer, that he should leave town as soon as possible as he was way over his head and had no idea what he was involved with. Arnold followed his advice and got in his private plane but didn’t get far before his plane engine stalled out in mid-air. Fortunately, a seasoned pilot, Arnold safely landed, finding out that whoever refueled his plane had left his fuel valve open. Soon afterward Ted Morello and Paul Lance, a Tacoma Times reporter looking into the story, also died rather suddenly and suspiciously.

So many elements of the Maury Island affair suggest human intelligence operatives were involved. There were reports of apparent phone tappings as well. The prime candidate for involvement in such an operation would have been Fred Lee Crisman, a friend and colleague of Dahl’s. Crisman, who worked for the Office of Strategic Services (forerunner of the CIA) going back to World War II, had written editor Ray Palmer a year earlier about how he and another airman had battled an alien machine that shot strange rays of light at them in a cave in Burma. Perhaps not so coincidentally then, Crisman was one of three men described as hoboes who were taken into custody and who were suspects in the John F. Kennedy assassination in 1963. He was subpoenaed by New Orleans attorney Jim Garrison, who believed that Crisman was the legendary second gunman. He and two other suspicious “hoboes” had been found at a rail yard next to Dealey Plaza’s grassy knoll shortly after Kennedy’s assassination.

The more alien episode that Redfern presented in his introduction of these high-strangeness scenarios and events involved a Brazilian farmer named Joao Prestes Felho, age 44, who back in March 1946 was walking home at night when he observed a strange object in the sky from which a bright light shined down upon him. He dropped to the ground, soon was in agonizing pain, feeling as thought he was consumed by a scalding heat. Taken to a local hospital, his body was said to have decomposed into gooey clumps before the horrified and helpless eyes of doctors. What kind of cause could account for such a terrible death?

From both ends of the suspect spectrum, Nedfern introduces us to case after case and scenario after scenario, presenting copies of formerly classified documents and spine-chilling case details that will keep you turning page after page until you reach the proverbial end.

Was the death of Secretary of Defense, James Forrestal, when he fell out a 16th floor window at the Bethesda Naval Hospital on May 22, 1949, connected with his statements about the reality of UFOs? Why was he concerned about UFOs, who was keeping him under apparent surveillance just days before his death, and why, just a few short months before his passing, did he tell a friend “something awful is about to happen to me”? Was there a connection with MK-Ultra scientist Frank Olson’s death on November 28, 1953? He too fell to his death from a great height (a 10th story window). Back in the early 1950s was a lethal virus on the loose in New Mexico? Was something more behind a number of Roswell related “suicides”? Was Captain Thomas Mantell killed by an alien presence as he pursued a UFO in the skies above Kentucky in 1948? Besides animal mutilations (that quite a few ufologists have attributed to UFOs in many instances) what about reports of human mutilations?

These and many more thought-provoking and intriguing accounts and scenarios are covered in great detail in this comprehensive compilation of real-life encounters and incidents of the “fatal kind”!

Sunday, March 03, 2024