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Michael Kroll
Soul of the Matter
When a middle-aged white man has a terrifying, deadly chance encounter with an older Black man on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, it leads him on an epic search for answers. Harrison Ovitz – a quick witted, ice cream guzzling, pot smoking, classical music loving and compassionate man – reaches out for help to solve the mystery, first from his police officer friend, then from his rich and rebellious big sister, and finally from the man who once was his most feared bully in middle school. Risking the best-paying job he’s ever had, Harrison’s search leads first to Port Chicago where, 55 years earlier, 50 Black sailors had been court martialed and sent to Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. His odyssey then moves from California to Georgia, and finally to Hawaii, where the answer to Harrison’s obsession to understand what he experienced is finally – and shockingly – revealed.

Karen Ingalls

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding

Reviewed in the United States on March 10, 2022

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A story of two men who are strangers yet on one fateful day their lives were forever intertwined. A white man who is struggling with the quality of his life witnesses an older black man jump from the San Francisco Bay Bridge. The reader will learn about the Port Chicago event that was horrific, kept a secret, and affected the lives of hundreds.
This book is a page-turner. The author has a beautiful gift for writing. I highly recommend this book to everyone. I believe it should be required reading for every high school student.


Geoff Hirsch

5.0 out of 5 stars A great read, well worth the time and money spent!

Reviewed in the United States on December 10, 2021

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Though I was a professor in seven different decades, I am undoubtedly the slowest reader you will ever encounter. "Six minute reads" take me 15 minutes. I, therefore, am very picky with what I read, beyond what I have to. Actually, I "had to" read "Soul of the Matter," too, as I have known the author for more than 2/3 of a century. I have always been proud of my friend, but never more than now. He has written an engaging book I put down only to attend an important event, yet still finished the same day I started reading the book. In spite of the good dialogue and fast pace, I will long remember certain things from the book, not least of which is the shocking, yet shockingly true, Port Chicago information, which triggered further research on my part. I highly recommend this memorable, yet entertaining, fast-read mystery, not so much a who-done-it than a why-it-done.


Diane Reed

5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding debut novel by award-winning journalist

Reviewed in the United States on December 14, 2021

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Two amazing experiences: reading Soul of the Matter and listening to the audio book. Michael Kroll is a master storyteller and a charismatic narrator. This book was actually my initiation into the world of audio books and I am a convert. As a writer, Kroll tells a compelling, layered, and entertaining story through a social justice lens that reveals disturbing truths and a shameful and nearly forgotten part of our history. As a narrator, he brings unforgettable characters to life with pathos, tension, humor, forgiveness and compassion. It’s a story that, once begun, is practically impossible to put down ─ and one that begs for a sequel!


Kristina Sears

5.0 out of 5 stars A closely observed thrilling read!

Reviewed in the United States on November 30, 2021

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I am a voracious consumer of books and was delighted by Michael Kroll's artfully crafted debut novel. Expecting a mystery and intrigued by its concept, I was already sold as I cracked Soul of the Matter open. Once I did I was captivated by the closely observed characters and held by history which I had not encountered. I cannot wait to follow Harrison Ovitz's next adventure!


Debby Stover

5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to put down once you start on the Journey

Reviewed in the United States on December 6, 2021

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One never knows what to expect when reading a novel written by an author you have not heard I can tell you..expect a great read! I know it is a common thing one says...BUT...could not put the book down!
Now have bought several copies as gifts and they are thanking me profusely! Mr. Kroll keep writing.



5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read

Reviewed in the United States on July 4, 2022

From the opening tragic event that sets Harrison Orvitz into his journey to find the truth, I was hooked. I could not put this book down. Michael A. Kroll is a master storyteller that engages the reader to follow Harrison as he searches our nation’s damaged past for answers. But is the characters that truly enveloped me in this story. Harrison is surround by friends and family who help him to investigate this event - three dimensional characters that pop off the page. As much as Soul of the Matter is a mystery, it is also a story on the importance of having people you love and care for in your life. A rich, visual tale that you will not want to miss.


atricia Nelson

5.0 out of 5 stars Real Life!

Reviewed in the United States on May 30, 2022

This is a wonderful, informative book. Lots of the people I care about have read it and agree. But there are those who still have not and I can't stand the idea that they are missing out on a great read. So I'm going to buy extra copies and send them to people about whom I care. They will thank me.



5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!

Reviewed in the United States on November 25, 2021

I first heard of Michael A. Kroll when he interviewed my late husband, Rick Sikes, for a magazine article he was writing about inmates in Leavenworth Prison. So, when I saw Kroll had written a book, I grabbed it, and am I glad I did. This story goes deep into some very big social issues but does it in such a way that it is entertaining, yet while being brutally honest. The story begins with a traffic catastrophe on a bridge. Cars and people are stuck for hours. The main character, Harrison Ovitz, is an observer. He takes notice of each vehicle and person around him. Next to him is a pickup with a janitorial advertisement on the door. A black man sits in that pickup holding his phone to his ear but never speaking. When the man suddenly exits the pickup, Harrison makes eye contact with him, then locks his car door. That simple act of fear is reflected in the man's eyes as he calmly walks to the edge of the bridge and hurls himself off. That sets the story in motion. People flock to the side of the bridge to try and get a glimpse of the man, but the black deep waters have swallowed him up. Harrison looks in the pickup and finds a small dog curled up on the seat asleep next to a suicide note. Over the next few days, Harrison is haunted by what he witnessed, the way the man's eyes locked with his, and the horror that followed. It sends him on a mission. He is obsessed with discovering why Joshua Jeppard committed suicide. I do not want to leave any spoilers here. But I do want to express my thoughts about this story. It is well-written, as I would expect from a journalist, and it addresses some raw social issues such as sexual child abuse and racism. It also exposes an unspeakable incident that is a huge blight on American history which has all but been swept under the rug. I did not know about the tragedy that took place at Port Chicago a Naval port in 1944. I do now, thanks to Kroll's story. If you enjoy a story that deals with real issues and raw honesty, and the human psyche, you will enjoy this book. I do highly recommend it!