Election-themed thrillers on tap at Hilltop Books


Chestnut Hill resident Stan Cutler will appear at Hilltop Books, the community bookstore at 84 Bethlehem Pike, on Saturday, May 27, at 3 p.m. to discuss his latest book, “Three Percent of the Vote.” along with James McCrone, a South Philadelphia resident and author of another thriller, “Bastard Verdict.” Both are about election-related misdeeds.

Cutler, a cheerleader for the Chestnut Hill Library, an active volunteer and board member of Friends of the Chestnut Hill Library and a co-founder of the bookstore, not only loves to read books, he also loves to write them — 10 of them in the past 15 years. 

Cutler is a long-time teacher of cyber-age political communication at Temple University's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Some people might assume that “Three Percent of the Vote” is a partisan political tract, but Cutler insists it is anything but. “Regardless of party,” he said last week, “Americans must have fair elections. And regardless of party, foreign interference in American elections is intolerable. 'Three Percent of the Vote' is speculative fiction about an invented hack that never happened but could have happened. 

“The exploit could have been committed by an unscrupulous candidate in either party. I had to pick one, and I gave him ties to a Russian regime, Putin’s, that routinely interferes in the democratic elections of NATO countries. The book has a political slant; it’s pro-democracy,” Cutler said. 

What made Cutler decide to write a book about election fraud, a political grenade of a topic these days? “Outrage,” said Cutler. “The spread of misinformation during the 2016 presidential campaign made me angry. I wanted to explore the methods used by internet trolls. I worry that our democracy is in danger and wanted to deal with the peril the best way a writer can, by telling a story.”

Cutler's book details a gerrymandered district map that he insists is an actual map. Roy Landis, the cyber sleuth who is tasked with exposing the fraud in the book, describes the district's outline as being like “a pixelated Minnie Mouse with antlers kicking Goofy in the butt with her high-heeled shoe and sending him westward toward Harrisburg.” 

Cutler began his career teaching social studies at Philadelphia high schools. After writing a thesis on the rhetoric of Malcolm X, he joined Penn State’s Speech and Communications faculty. He quit six years later, “having endured” 1,800 sophomore speeches, he said. 

Leaving the world of academia in the rear-view mirror, to use Cutler's expression, he traveled “on the hippy highway” with his wife and daughter to the Guatemalan border and back. When they returned to Philadelphia, Cutler again taught high school history, then spent a year as a demonstration teacher in Oslo, Norway. 

After once again returning to Philadelphia, Cutler went to night school to learn computer programming, leading to a career as an IT development specialist. He was a consultant for more than 20 years. He was involved with the design and implementation of business systems for several Fortune 50 companies as well as ground systems for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites. 

One of Cutler's novels, “The Subversive Detective,” is a particularly poignant historical espionage thriller in which Atlantic City police detective Dave Levitan investigates an execution in 1944 and discovers a Nazi spy and team of German saboteurs hoping to derail the American war effort. 

For more information about Cutler's books or to order them, visit stanleycutler.com. Len Lear can be reached at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com