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Bates to bring spy novel to Raymond

For The Madera Tribune

Ed Bates.


Sheriff Ed Bates is no stranger to that annual celebration everyone knows as the Raymond parade. When he was Madera County sheriff his appearances at the mountain festival were almost command performances, and he will be there again on Saturday, April 16, 2022. This year, however, the retired High Sheriff will have a different role at the parade. This time he will be telling a story — a spy story — the same exciting espionage saga he tells in his new book, “The Kendrick File.”

Bates’ novel deals with a Russian agent who has assumed the identity of a deceased American Citizen by the name of Kendrick. With the assistance of Russian agents and several corrupt high-level federal authorities, the imposter is placed within the ultra-secret National Security Agency where he is headed toward a top security spot.

Two naval officers connected with the OP20g intelligence are assigned to investigate the background of Kendrick in his alleged home town. They discover major discrepancies which appear to justify a much more invasive investigation. In the process, Russian agents attempt to assassinate the two officers. One is a recent female graduate from the naval academy at Annapolis. The other, a male, is a former chief petty officer, now a commander in the USN.

During the subsequent investigation the Russians resort to murder and blackmail in an attempt to put an end to the undercover work of the two officers. The pair retaliates by utilizing extra-legal tactics.

Bates tells this tale of intrigue in 198 action packed pages.

The excitement of Bates’ spy novel is matched by his own real-life story. It was the Chowchilla kidnapping that put his picture on the front pages of newspapers all over the world and made his name a household word in California. In Madera County, however, the kidnapping case was just the tip of the iceberg. By the time Bates came to Madera, he had been involved in a murder at sea, a witness at a gas chamber execution in San Quentin, the sleuth who caught a nervous cop trying to hide his crime, and a dozen other episodes that gave Bates his reputation of being the most unorthodox lawmen of his time — and maybe of all time.

Bates life of excitement began early. At the age of 16, he joined the Merchant Marines. In 1943, his merchant ship docked at Tampa, Florida, and while there, he turned 17. At that point, he jumped ship and joined the Navy, serving in Naval intelligence. After his discharge, with the cold war looming on the horizon, Bates was called back into Naval Intelligence and remained on active duty until 1950.

In 1952 he was hired by the Sheriff of Stanislaus County as a deputy and soon worked his way to the rank of sergeant where he became the department’s expert polygraph operator. By 1960, such was his reputation as an investigator that the National Board of Fire Underwriters hired him to investigate cases of arson, primarily in the San Joaquin Valley. It was while employed by the Underwriters Board that he was assigned to investigate the famous Harlow Fire in the foothills of Madera County and obtained a confession from the youth who set the blaze.

Bates celebrated his 45th birthday by being elected sheriff of Madera County. His fight with criminals took him all over the county. Many of Madera County’s residents remember the 22-Mile House murder, the serial killer in Chowchilla, and the annual struggle with the Hells Angels at Bass Lake. Every one of these episodes made headlines, but it was the Chowchilla Kidnapping that riveted the world’s attention on Madera County and its Sheriff. When the final book on Sheriff Ed Bates is written it will include this ordeal and many more.

Bates will greet friends at his booth near the Raymond Museum during the parade celebration on Saturday. He will be available to sign copies of his book and chat with parade celebrants.

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