More About Diamond Trump

On New Year's Eve 1936 a blast shook an area within a fifty-mile radius of Sioux Falls, S.D. Rushing to the scene of the blast, onlookers found a huge crater where a storage shed once stood holding tons of blasting powder and dynamite. In a ditch nearby they also found a woman, stripped naked by the explosion, riddled with bullets, and dazed. In the hospital later, under police questioning, the woman spilled out an amazing story involving a jewelry heist, star-crossed lovers, and violent retribution.

Members of the gang involved in the jewelry theft were later implicated in the powder-house explosion. The blast had apparently been set to wipe out one of the gang members and his girlfriend. The couple, who had been threatening to leave the gang, were shot before the explosion occurred.

All that was found of the man was a portion of one hand. The girl somehow escaped to tell the story. She helped to identify and convict the remaining members of the gang.

Ron Robinson says that the bare outline of the story was enough to inspire Diamond Trump. "I'm not interested in writing history," Robinson said, "but the essential facts of the case provide an irresistible framework upon which to string an imaginary account."

The author departs from the known facts on several planes in describing what led up to the historical events and what followed them. Much of what he invented, however, was based on informed conjecture.

"The gang probably knew about the powder house in the first place because they had stolen dynamite there before," Robinson said. "Dynamite was often rendered during that era in order to produce nitroglycerine, which was in turn used to blast open safes."

Robinson, a native of Iowa, used his knowledge of the area in which he was raised to paint a background for the novel. A large chunk of the work takes place at Arnolds Park in the Iowa Great Lakes region.

"I kept many of the strange twists of the true story," Robinson said, including the surprising revelation about who was ultimately responsible for the theft..

"Of course, I added several twists of my own," Robinson said.

One of the facts of the case is that the real-life survivor of the blast toured for some time in a carnival, displaying her wounds and recounting her story. Later she married an Iowa farmer and disappeared from public view.

Diamond Trump is Robinson's second novel. His first novel, Thunder Dreamer, set in the Black Hills, was published by the University of South Dakota Press in 1997.

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