Wednesday, September 8, 2010


My newest book, CHANT OF DEATH, co-authored with Isabel Anders, has been on the market several weeks now, and some “would-be readers” have asked for a peek into its contents before ordering this mystery set in south Louisiana. I have often included excerpts to other books I’ve written, as well as poems taken from my poetry chapbooks, so I’ve decided to include an excerpt from Chapter I for those of you who want a “read” before buying CHANT OF DEATH.

“As soon as Father Malachi opened the door from the sacristy and entered the chapel, he sensed sacrilege before he actually saw the wet pile of blackened wood ashes in the center of the altar. He was as shocked as he would have been had he come upon a cremated Jesus heaped in a mound on the fair linen cloth. The scent of burned wood overpowered the usual scent of candle wax and the astringent incense he had used at High Mass the day before. Who could have desecrated their sacred space in this manner?

“Father Malachi differed from his fellow monks in that he had married and lived in the world before he became a seminarian, then a monk, and, now, an abbot. As a healer, he knew the limitations of wounded human beings for his own wife had committed suicide years ago. But he was still sickened at the sight of some warped creature’s idea of creativity. A note lay beside the charred mess, and after closer inspection, Fr. Malachi saw that the pile contained the remnants of burnt religious cards, some bearing the image of Jesus. The note, written in poorly formed letters, read: ‘Yore not gods.’

“He couldn’t help thinking: Hell has terrible grammar. And lousy decorum. Someone had been setting up an ‘alternative’ display on the altar, had burned holy symbols and heaped the offensive ash on the corporal during the night. Who had done this? One of the monks at his beloved St. Andrew’s Abbey? Not possible. One of the secular helpers or suppliers in their break baking operation? Possibly. Maybe the shabby, sullen ‘handyman’ who had come seeking work recently. He knew the sacristy had been locked the night before, as always, keeping the sacred vessels safe. How had the person gained entrance in order to take up the cards and do this?

“Father Malachi glanced up at the statue of the Virgin Mary in her immaculate blue gown, standing on a snake that had its red fangs extended. “Blessed among women, and blessed be the fruit of your womb,” he said, taking the corporal and folding it over respectfully to enclose the ash…”

Well, that’s how CHANT OF DEATH begins, and you’ll have to order a copy to read further. When murder breaks out, Father Malachi finds his powers stretched to the limit in an effort to protect the innocent and identify the killer. At least five readers have suggested that CHANT is good movie material. Isabel and I certainly hope so! You can go online and google to find details about how to order the book, or you can write directly to Pinyon Publishing, 23847 V66 Trail, Montrose, CO 81403 to obtain your copy or copies. Also on the site are interviews in which Isabel and I participated, as well as a list of reviewers’ comments about CHANT OF DEATH.

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