So what does a small business and anti-tax advocate do in his spare time? Joel Fox writes mystery novels about dead presidents.

Fox is president of the Small Business Action Committee, former president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and is also known for his Fox and Hounds opinion blog. He has just published his first mystery novel, “Lincoln’s Hand.”

The story follows an FBI agent named Zane Rigby who is assigned to follow up on the appearance of a severed hand with a note attached saying the body part belonged to Abraham Lincoln. When a DNA sample from the hand matches a known DNA sample from Lincoln, Rigby goes off in search of what happened to Lincoln’s body.

Reached after returning from a promotional trip to Chicago, Fox said the book stems from documents showing that Lincoln’s body was moved frequently and that at least two checks were made of his coffin to make sure the body was still there. Fox spent more than a year researching the book in Illinois and then writing the novel on mornings before his workday started.

As for his fascination with Lincoln, Fox said that started with a cheesy 1950s movie depicting an attempt to steal Lincoln’s body.

“I was really taken aback by that: It was such an astounding concept,” he said.

A sequel may be in the offing. At the end of the book, a file turns up on the agent’s desk about Franklin Roosevelt. Whether Fox writes that novel will depend on how well “Lincoln’s Hand” does.

Does Fox see this as turning into a second career?

“I’m not planning on it,” he said. “I just started doing this to scratch an itch I had to write mystery novels.”

But, he added, “if this does turn out successful, I certainly would love to be a full-time writer.”

Deming’s Legacy

W. Edwards Deming, the management specialist credited with helping transform postwar Japan into an economic force, has been dead for more than 16 years, but his lessons – and bloodline – are living on in Los Angeles.

Kevin Edwards Cahill, Deming’s grandson and vice president of the W. Edwards Deming Institute, recently helped orchestrate a seminar in Hawthorne to give executives the benefit of Deming’s teachings and grow their businesses as the economy recovers. With several dozen attendees from as far away as Singapore, Cahill called the event “a terrific success.”

Cahill, 50, said he felt something of an obligation to carry on the legacy. “What we’re doing is perpetuating my grandfather’s management ideas,” he said.

But Cahill, an entrepreneur who joined the institute full time just a few years ago, said it took a while before he realized the extent of the influence of his grandfather. Deming was very well known overseas but less so in the states, although he was featured in an NBC documentary and has his own collection in the U.S. Library of Congress.

“As we grew up, we were very close to him, but he never talked about what he did,” Cahill said. “We had no idea he had gone over to Japan and is given credit for the Japanese economic miracle that took place at the end of World War II.”

Staff reporters Howard Fine and Richard Clough contributed to this column. Page 3 is compiled by Editor Charles Crumpley. He can be reached at

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