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text 2017-09-11 04:44
The Case of the Preacher Without a Prayer

A Professor Laura Kaylan and Detective Harry Gonzales Mystery

At first glance, Reverend Billy Roy Montgomery's parsonage office looked exactly as it did on the evangelist's Sunday evening program, Gospel Reflections: opulent furniture in mahogany and red leather, subdued lighting from a Tiffany lamp on the desk, shelves lined with leather-bound books. A second look around, however, revealed subtle and not so subtle differences between the genuine article and the studio stage set.  Here, solid oak bookcases provided the backdrop in every direction, instead of painted plywood that ended at the edge of the camera's field of vision.  The stage set never invoked the unmistakable aroma of fine leather and old wood that marked this room as the genuine article.  Like most TV studios, the Gospel Reflections mock-up smelled of hot lights, electric cables, and some technician's stale cigarette smoke and half-eaten burger.


But I digress, a quirk of personality I sometimes cultivate.


Summoned to the parsonage by a half-hysterical phone call from Reverend Billy's wife, I stopped just inside the open door to the study and marshaled the forces that would return me to some semblance of professional calm.  Reverend Billy's office did indeed look normal, except of course for the dead man sprawled face down on the carpet in front of the massive desk.  A wet red stain, too fresh even to have dried at the edges, covered the back of his once-white jacket.  The gold handle of the letter opener that had killed him gleamed in the muted light.

The tall case clock in the corner bonged discreetly three times.  I glanced at my watch; Billy's clock ran fast by about five minutes.  I glanced down at Billy; his time had run out.

The quiet sniffle from somewhere to my left dispelled a moment of contemplation.  A disembodied voice, floating on the morbid air, asked, "Can you keep everything quiet?  You know, out of the papers?"

Someone else might have laughed in reply, but few others, and certainly none of the cops who would arrive on scene within minutes, would have understood the request.


I turned to the huddled knot of people clustered in front of the closed door that led to the rest of the parsonage.  Pauline Bouchard Montgomery, who sometime within the past few hours had gone from being the wife of the most powerful evangelist in Phoenix to just another widow, separated herself from the group and stumbled toward me.


"That's why I called you first, Dr. Kaylan," she added.  "The publicity, if this should get out, would be . . . disastrous."

She tripped on the edge of the rug and only the quick action of a bathrobed elderly woman with the manner of a professional nurse kept the former Polly Bouchard from falling to the floor beside her late husband.

Polly accepted the nurse's assistance to a nearby chair, behind the desk and out of view of the body.

"I am the soul of discretion, Mrs. Montgomery, but as soon as the police get here --"


"No!" she shrieked, half rising from the chair until the nurse's hands on her shoulders brought her back down.  "No police.  We'll say it was an accident."


Her outburst, though brief, rattled me more than her earlier calm.  Her husband, a prominent personality in the religious community of a major metropolitan area, lay dead on the floor with a fancy letter opener protruding from his back, and she expected anyone to believe he died due to an accident? 


Yes, that's exactly what she expects, I thought. 


This attractive, slender woman in her early fifties came from a background that accustomed her to getting exactly what she wanted more often than not, no matter how irrational her request might seem to anyone else.


"I don't think you understand my position, Mrs. Montgomery," I began to explain as I walked closer to the widow and her caretaker.  Assuming a classic movie stance, I went down on one knee beside her and took her stone cold hands in mine.  "We have a duty to call the police.  Reverend Billy has been murdered, and the police have to find out who did it."


She gathered herself for another screamed protest; I squeezed her icy fingers tightly before continuing with only the slightest pause.  A man could not have communicated the emotional bond this way, but I knew Polly would respond to a woman's touch.


"I want you to tell me what happened as quickly as you can, no more than ten minutes, and then I'm going to call the police," I told her, with a quick look up toward the nurse, who nodded her understanding.  "Tell me everything, just as it happened, just as you remember it."

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-09-03 08:19
August 2017 — A Wrap-Up for the Month of Graphic Novels & Comics



The previous month was all about graphic novels and comics. Here is what I read in August and what I thought about it:


Monster of Frankenstein Vol. 1




As part of Project Frankenstein, this volume failed to make an impression. I was sad to see that all the stories missed the most essential characteristic present in the monster from the original work: its intelligence. This monster came off as a creature on a rampage. Even where it was shown to be clever, it was in an evil sort of a way.


Anyway, another book that I can cross off my list!


Kamala has my heart and is keeping it as far as I can see. The humor is amazing, I mean references to Dune, Spiderman’s wisecracks, and keeping things real— the comic has it all!



A Plague of Angels




I enjoyed the heck outta this book and have reviewed it in detail here.


Gotham Academy: Endgame #1 &

Annual #1



These were cute and nerdy but I am still not too crazy about them.


Preacher, Volumes 1, 2, & 3




Irreverrent as heck but funny and kick-you-in-the-gut sad too. If you can get past the first issue or two, then you are going to love it. If you are easily offended, this might not be the thing for you!


Raptor Red




I have already reviewed this one in detail and on Instagram; it was part of my Books&Chai series. Read my expression of Dino-Mania here.


Original post: https://midureads.wordpress.com/2017/09/03/august-2017-a-wrap-up-for-the-month-of-graphic-novels-comics/


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review 2017-02-14 20:40
Grace and the Preacher
Grace and the Preacher: A Novel - Kim Vogel Sawyer

Title: Grace and the Preacher
Author: Kim Vogel Sawyer
Publisher: WaterBrook
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Five

"Grace and the Preacher" by Kim Vogel Sawyer

My View....

A little predictable read but still a good one that will keep your attention till the very end. The characters [Grace, Theo, Bess, Philemon & Earl] were all indeed interesting being very well developed, defined, portrayed and believable giving the reader quite a good read. I loved how one of the characters were right on the mark being that she was 'older, wiser women whose counsel was so solid and Biblical.' Be ready for a read about Grace Cristler and Theophil Garrison...that goes through a little bit of it all from 'laughter, love, heart searching, lessons that were learned, more adventures that will go on till the end with grace and finally redemption achieved.' This author gives this novel a beautiful setting for this story that takes place in Missouri. What will happen as Grace gets 'growing affections for a man who turns out to be a con man?' As the story goes on ... I loved how Theo was gifted for being such a 'Good Samaritan.' Now, I will stop here and say to get this whole story you will have to pick up this good read to see for yourself how well this author brings it all out to the reader. So, if you are looking for a good action read with some romance you have come to the right place as 'Grace and the Preacher' will give it all to you.

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text 2017-01-02 02:16
Top 5 Graphic Novel reads from 2016
Suicide Squad, Vol. 1: Kicked in the Teeth - Adam Glass,Ryan Benjamin
The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes (New Edition) - Neil Gaiman,Sam Keith,Mike Dringenberg
Preacher Book Three - Garth Ennis,Steve Dillon
The Beauty Volume 1 - Jason A. Hurley,Jeremy Haun
The Boys, Vol. 12: The Bloody Doors Off - Garth Ennis






I managed to read 143 comics last year which was a bit more than anticipated and came at the expense of neglecting novels and audiobooks.




I love my comics but this year I'll be trying to pare it back a little and concentrate on getting my novel/novella TBR under control.


Suicide Squad, Vol. 1: Kicked in the Teeth - Adam Glass,Ryan Benjamin 


A fun first outing for me with the Suicide Squad team, the star is of course Harley Quinn and I'm looking forward to reading more of her this year.


The Sandman Vol. 1: Preludes & Nocturnes (New Edition) - Neil Gaiman,Sam Keith,Mike Dringenberg 


A beautiful start to the Sandman series with the Robert Smith inspired Dream escaping capture and returning to his kingdom.


Preacher Book Three - Garth Ennis,Steve Dillon 


I loved all six books in this series but the reason I picked this one was due to Herr Starr. He is left wounded by Preacher, his head now resembles a penis and there are some hilarious panels that show him trying on wigs and hats with the same sour expression on his face until the last panel when he finds something he likes.

Image result for preacher book 3 herr starr

Image result for preacher book 3 herr starr

Related image


The Beauty Volume 1 - Jason A. Hurley,Jeremy Haun 


Great premise of beauty being a STD and how society values outer beauty at any cost. Amazing artwork makes this a must read.


The Boys, Vol. 12: The Bloody Doors Off - Garth Ennis 


A shocking end to an amazing series. Garth Ennis is a genius.

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review 2016-08-20 00:00
Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity
Why I Became an Atheist: A Former Preacher Rejects Christianity - John W. Loftus I really didn't find this book very edifying. I don't think I came across anything that I didn't already know. My rule of thumb, if you're going to write a 30 plus hour book, tell me things I don't already know. The bible was created by man, it has really weird stuff in it, superstition is superstition no matter when, a God that punishes his Son for the sin that a talking snake tricked a man into, and Zombies roaming Jerusalem it's all too impossible to believe. But, the one thing I don't want to have to do is listen to hours of Bible quotes and using the myth believers' sources in order to refute the myth believers. I just refute it by ignoring a special pleading by anyone who thinks their Book is special and offer no proof for that whatsoever.

I just recently read Spinoza's "Tractatus" (it's available for free at LibriVox). One of the arguments this author (Loftus) made against Christianity is that Jesus invokes Beelzebub (the devil) in his argument against the Pharisees when they claim that Jesus is in league with the devil, and Jesus responds "that he can't be of the devil since a house can't stand divided against itself". Spinoza makes the point that those critics who claim that Jesus is accepting the reality of the devil miss the point of the argument. Jesus is only giving a proof by contradiction (or as this author, Loftus, says brilliantly earlier in the book, "opposites can't happen"). Look Spinoza made that point 350 years earlier can't Loftus at least acknowledge that in his discussion.

I really hate wasting my time in inside baseball or in this case inside Bible discussion points. All one has to do is listen to a clever Jesuit (who actually I love listening to) or a clever Orthodox Rabbi to know that if you assume their starting points you won't be able to win the arguments on points. It's books like this one that enable Jehovah Witnesses to argue their absurd points and to win converts.

I want to clarify. This book is not horrible, but it's really using the wrong approach to defend atheism (in my opinion). There is actually almost no science in this book whatsoever. I only mention that because the one book that liberated me from religious thought more than any other was "The 4% Universe". It opened my mind and led to hundreds of other science books and than ultimately philosophy and theology books. (I would recommend learn the science before delving into religion).

Logic can only take you so far. I'll give an example outside of the scope of this book, but relevant to why I didn't like this book. Quantum physics is characterized most succinctly by three statements, 1) at the most fundamental level particles are characterized as waves and particles simultaneously (wave particle duality), 2) cause and effect break down at the quantum level (that darn cat!), and 3) superposition (particles are everywhere and no where at the same time). Each of these are fundamental violations of one of the three rules of logic but we still accept quantum physics to be true. Logical inconsistency by itself is not enough to throw out all of physics (nor should it be). The author is trying to show that logical inconsistency by itself is enough to throw out a Christians worldview, but, perhaps all ontological foundations lead to contradictions.

The one book that's mentioned more often by the books I read than any other except for the Bible is Galileo's "Dialogs Concerning Two Chief World Systems". I just recently read it and it seems to me that most of the authors who cite it (including this author) did not read it with as much diligence as I did. They seem to not really understand it and I would recommend any one should read it and not rely on misleading summaries. The author quotes Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" which I've just recently listened to through audible. Kant does a much more effected job at defending atheism by his antinomies than this book does. In the end, Kant appeals to the moral within man for his proof of God's existence. Look, authors of Atheism books, expect your listeners to have read the books you are citing, because some of us really, really want to understand. Give us something worth knowing beyond the superficial distractions that fill most of what permeates the easily accessible media or popular books!

Overall, I would recommend Bart Ehrman's many fine but detailed lectures or books on many of the topics which were not covered nearly as well in this book. I don't really dislike this author and he probably wrote a decent book for somebody who cares about inside Bible arguments, but in the future I hope the author learns it's okay to teach us things that are complicated and not to be afraid to talk above us. I want to learn, and the Bible offers me almost nothing (I really enjoy Ecclesiastes and therefore it can teach me something more than nothing).
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