Friday, September 30, 2011

7th Serialized post -- Twisted Perception

Elliot turned back to Sergeant Conley. “Yeah,” Elliot said. “I’m fine.”

Conley’s expression said he wasn’t buying it and Elliot wasn’t surprised. He was sure he looked as pale and lifeless as the corpse sitting in the car. He backed off a bit then began working his way around the scene, taking pictures to review later. When he came to the passenger side of the car, he lowered the camera and worked his hand into a latex glove, wincing as he opened the door, causing the air inside the car, thick with the scents of urine and blood, to flood his senses.

The victim, a female that Elliot guessed to be about thirty years of age, was in the passenger seat with her head tilted back and her hands in her lap. The deep gash across her throat still looked fresh. The expensive necklace had been removed to keep it from being damaged. Everything about her said money, but through the lens of the camera, the massive diamond on her left hand looked as cold and detached as a severed limb. The necklace that dangled from the rearview mirror matched her earrings.

Johnnie Boy was here.

“Sure is dressed nice,” Conley said.

Elliot nodded, noting that her handbag lay undisturbed on the seat beside her, near a smear of blood where it looked like the killer had wiped the knife clean. On the floorboard beneath the brake pedal was a cell phone. Elliot picked it up. It was still on, so he hit redial. The display showed the last call was to the Tulsa Police Department. He started to comment when the sound of an approaching car caught his attention. He knew it would be Beaumont, but he confirmed it, watching the detective pull up. How anyone could keep a car as clean as Beaumont did was a mystery to Elliot. Then again, he suspected that, much like its owner, the car’s highly maintained exterior merely masked an embarrassing need for dirty lubricants.

Beaumont climbed out of his car and started toward them, habitually straightening his already perfect tie while he walked around the Mercedes, surveying the scene before he joined Elliot and Conley. “I hope you haven’t touched anything,” he said.

Elliot shook his head.

He glanced at Conley.

“Not me,” Conley said.

Beaumont looked Elliot over, a thin smile crossing his lips.

“What do you think?” He asked. “Do we have a homicide?”

“Looks like it.”

Beaumont moved closer to the vehicle, observing the victim. “Looks pretty affluent. By the way, Elliot, where were you last night?”

A wave of regret went through Elliot. He was to have met Beaumont for a beer after work and he’d completely forgotten about it. “Sorry, I guess I fell asleep.”

“You must have been dead to the world. I called your house, but you didn’t answer.”

Conley had walked back to his squad car, where he held the door open, the radio microphone in his hand. When Elliot came over, he tilted his head toward the scene and lowered the mike. “Why’d the captain have to send that jerk?”

Elliot tried to hide his smile. Beaumont, who was already busy dusting for prints, wasn’t exactly popular with the patrol officers. He was sharp—real sharp—and he had an impressive way of remembering case details, but he didn’t mind letting you know it. “He’s pretty good at what he does,” Elliot said. “Got an ID on the victim yet?”

            Conley nodded. “Name’s Lagayle Zimmerman.”

            Elliot ran the name through his memory, but it didn’t register. As he scanned the crime scene, the sounds of traffic on Peoria Avenue wafting through his senses, he noticed two people standing beside another uniformed officer. To Conley, he said, “Any of these people see anything?”

            “None that will admit to it,” Conley said.

            “You question everybody?”

            “Yes, sir.”

            “Who found the body?”

            “Some wino,” Conley said. “Hang on. I’ll get him for you.” He signaled for the officer to bring the witnesses over.

More to come. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think of the book.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Book Review -- Courageous, by Randy Alcorn

In Courageous, a novel which appears to be a police procedural becomes much more as the story follows the lives of four police officers who struggle to reconcile their profession with their private lives. The heroes, Adam Mitchell and Nathan Hayes, deal with personal loss as well as drugs and gang members, which, and perhaps for the first time, have leaked from their cop worlds to infiltrate their personal lives.
The strong and vivid characters carried the book for me. I also found it refreshing – perhaps my being new to Christian fiction was a factor – to read a novel where the good guys with good values win out in the end. However, I found parts of the story unrealistic, with characters acting out of character. While the characters hold the story together, the constant and often abrupt point of view changes worked to disconnect the reader. Deeper into the story, this happened less often and at that point the book became a better read.
All things considered, I enjoyed the book. I would recommend Courageous, by Randy Alcorn to Christian adults, at which the book seems to be aimed.
For purposes of this review, I received a complimentary copy of Courageous from the publisher, Tyndale House.
        Bob Avey, author of Beneath a Buried House

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Alchemy of Potter II

Flamel’s Journey

It is written that Nicolas Flamel spent some twenty plus years trying to interpret the manuscript of Abraham the Jew, and thus unlock the secrets that he had become certain were contained within its pages. With much of the text being written in ancient Hebrew, Flamel realized he needed the help of someone who could read the text. Knowing that some of the people of Jewish faith, having been driven out of France, had settled in Spain, he decided to travel there. Flamel made a vow to St James of Compostela, the patron saint of his parish, to make a pilgrimage to the area where the Jews had settled.

According to Flamel, he first fulfilled his vow to St James then travelled about Spain in search of someone with the knowledge to help him interpret the manuscript of Abraham the Jew. However, and quite understandably, he found the Jewish people suspicious of him and therefore uncooperative, since he was French and his countrymen had expelled the Jews from their country.

It’s not certain how much time Flamel spent in Spain, but eventually he gave up and began his journey home. However, fate again caught up with him at an inn, located in the town of Leon, when he stopped for the night. There he met a French merchant, travelling on business. As the Frenchmen dined together, the conversation eventually turned to part of the reason Flamel was there – to find a Jewish scholar. As it turned out, the merchant was friends with, or at least knew of such a man, who happened to live in Leon. Flamel convinced the merchant to take him to the home of Maestro Canches, and introduce him to the Jewish scholar.

It is here, at the home of Maestro Canches, where everything starts to fall into place for Flamel. Being a wise man, and not wanting to lose his life, his money or the precious manuscript, he had traveled to Spain as a pilgrim, dressed in simple attire, with just enough money to make the trip, and bringing only a few pages of the manuscript, even those being only copies. After the merchant had made the introductions and left Flamel and Canches alone, Flamel pulls the hidden manuscript pages from his cloak and shows them to the scholar. One can only imagine what must have gone through Canches mind when he saw those pages. Not only did Maestro Canches know of Abraham the Jew, a great master of the wandering race, a sage who had studied the mysteries of the Cabala, but he had spent his life searching for the manuscript Abraham had written. He told Flamel that it was said that the book still existed and that it had passed through the years from person to person, always reaching the one whose destiny it was to receive it. Canches translated the pages, which were written in Hebrew from the time of Moses. He interpreted symbols that had originated in ancient Chaldea. The pages were enough for Canches to recognize them as authentic, but not enough to reveal the secret of the Philosopher’s Stone.

At some point, Canches must have asked Flamel how he had obtained the pages, and Flamel eventually told Canches that he was indeed in possession of the original manuscript. When this meeting occurred, Maestro Canches was an old man, which would make traveling difficult, but he asked Flamel to allow him to accompany Flamel on his journey back to Paris. In addition, since Jews were not allowed in France, Canches went so far as to convert to Christianity in order to make the trip to see the manuscript of Abraham the Jew.

Flamel agreed and the two men began their journey to Paris. They made it as far as Orleans, but it was there that Maestro Canches passed away. Being that Canches had converted to Christianity, Flamel had him piously buried in the church of Sante-Croix.

I'd love to know what you think about the post, or if you have any information to add. Please leave a comment.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Twisted Perception

Sixth Serialized Blog Post -- Twisted Perception -- Chapter Two

Blood-smeared words flashed through his memory.

Johnnie Boy was here.

Johnnie Alexander and Marcia Barnes were inside the car, both covered in blood, both dead. Then he saw the class ring. The one he’d given to Marcia. She’d worn it suspended from a gold chain around her neck, though it now hung from the rearview mirror of Johnnie’s Mustang, where it twisted mockingly in the darkness, catching the light of the moon and sparkling like some distant star.

“Pretty fancy jewelry, huh, Elliot? Hey, man, you okay?”

Snapping back to the present, Elliot looked across the top of the Mercedes to see Sergeant Conley, his forehead wrinkled with concern. Elliot surveyed the condominiums. Several blocks of houses had been torn down to accommodate the construction of the two-story brick villas designed with wrought-iron railings and small balconies to emulate something from the New Orleans French Quarter. To the north was a park. A sign proclaimed it to be Centennial Park, though it was still thought of as Central Park by those who knew the place. It’d been nice once, playing host to family barbecues and games of badminton on the grass, but the area had deteriorated over the years and had fallen into disrepair, eventually being frequented by those who hid in its uncut bushes and eased their pain with wine and drugs. Recently, for the benefit of the condominiums, the bushes had been trimmed and the grass mowed. They even renamed it. But the shadowy homeless people could still be seen there, sitting in groups around picnic tables, clutching bottles of wine wrapped in brown paper bags.
A small crowd of neighbors had gathered to gawk at the taped-off crime scene. For the homeless

it was more of a curiosity, another constant reminder of their own mortality; but for those

unaccustomed to such things, like the fresh residents of the newly constructed condos, it was more

like a chapter torn from the pages of a horror novel.Twisted Perception $2.99 on Kindle

Thursday, September 01, 2011

The Alchemy of Harry Potter

As mentioned in my last blog post, the story behind J.K. Rowling’s first Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, (also known as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) was based, in part, on the life of a real person.

In the fictional world of the Harry Potter stories, Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, gained much of his wizardly knowledge through his association with his partner, Nicolas Flamel. Most of the official documents relating to the life of Nicolas Flamel have been found – His marriage license, his deeds of gift, and even his will. Flamel’s history rests solidly on substantial material proofs. Unlike his fictional counterparts in the Potter books, Flamel was a real person. What then, other than being Dumbledore’s buddy, does Flamel have to do with Harry Potter? Let me explain.

 Nicolas Flamel was born in France in, or around 1330, which would have made him about 665 years old at the time The Philosopher’s Stone was published.  Not much is known about Flamel’s early life, but during his adult life he was engaged in business, operating a small shop in Paris, where he sold books. He married a woman named Perenelle and together they led a quiet and modest life.

However, Flamel’s life changed when an unknown man walked into his shop, carrying a manuscript that he wanted to sell. Flamel might have dismissed the man, had he not recognized the manuscript as being identical to one given to him in a dream.

In the dream, an angel had stood before Flamel, holding a book with bindings of copper engraved with strange diagrams and symbols. The angel gave the book to Flamel and said, “At first you will understand nothing, but one day you will see and understand that which no other man will be able to.”

Not surprisingly, Flamel paid the man his asking price without bargaining. The first page of the manuscript declared the author to be: Abraham the Jew, prince, priest, Levite, astrologer, and philosopher, sprung from the root of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Flamel, being a scribe and seller of books, was well-read and had acquired knowledge of alchemy, an art which aims to discover a magical substance, sometimes referred to as the Philosopher’s Stone, which could turn ordinary metals into gold, but more importantly could perfect any situation.  The theory being that anyone, having reached such a high level of learning, would attain immortality through the victory of spirit over matter. However, Flamel’s extensive knowledge was not enough to help him understand the strange book he’d come into the possession of. He spent years trying to decipher the book without success. He did not give up. Since much of the text was written in ancient Hebrew, he realized that he needed the help of a well-read Jewish person. Unfortunately, the people of Jewish faith had been driven out of France. Flamel knew that some of these people had migrated to Spain. He decided to journey there in search of someone to help him with the book.

I’ll continue the story of Flamel in the next post.