Decades ago, I served as a (minor league) spiritual teacher in a Hindu-ish spiritual organization. Having been the first disciple of a brand new guru, I was put in charge of a branch office, shepherding a handful of rookie seekers. So I know more than most novelists about that world, and the ideas behind it.
Fast forward to my current writing career. What if a for-real spiritual teacher became mixed-up in a murder mystery. How would she handle herself? How would esoteric knowledge come in handy, or perhaps get in the way? For that matter, how would a psychological-minded PI deal with such a client?
I’m a psychotherapist. All of this appealed to me as a vehicle for getting deep into the heads of my characters. Also, I need to care about content beyond the nuts and bolts of a well-written, good story. I lose interest after the first forty pages—my filing cabinet is overflowing with partial manuscripts—unless I find a way to include a substrata that most other mystery writers ignore.
Blood and Wisdom had legs from start to finish. The characters told me what they’d say and how they’d act, and the plot fell out of me sequentially. I’d casually choose to make a car yellow, and then I’d find out a hundred pages later that color supplied a vital clue. My subconscious was participating as a full partner.
Of course, this yielded a raw first draft that required a great deal of revising and editing. Apparently the puppeteer who lurked in a back corner of my brain liked dialogue and plotting, but didn’t give a hoot about character development and description.
The most fun I had writing the book was finding out—along with the reader—how the complex, fast-moving plot would resolve. Honestly, I had no idea. I’d write myself into a corner, and then somehow a plot twist would show up and we’d be off and running again. I didn’t even know who the murderer was until I’d written about two-thirds of Blood and Wisdom.
In the end, I realized that whatever was going on was working. I’ve never written anything that so successfully melded all the traditional elements of a PI mystery with psychological and metaphysical insights. And it’s a love story, too—a tale of a profound connection between two thoughtful, kind characters who are thrown together by a conspiracy of violent events.
Blood and Wisdom represents the very best I can do. Literally. I wish I could say that about all of my life, but let’s face it, we’re a messy, bumbling species. Like everyone else, I’ll have to settle for an occasional triumph, and for me, this book is it (for now.)
Title: BLOOD & WISDOM
Genre: Mystery/PI Novel
Author: Verlin Darrow
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Purchase on Amazon
About the Book:
When Private Investigator Karl Gatlin takes on Aria Piper’s case, it was no more than a threat—phone calls warning Aria to either “stop doing Satan’s work” or meet an untimely demise. But a few hours later, a headless John Doe bobs up in the wishing well at Aria’s New Age spiritual center near Santa Cruz. Aria had ideas about who could be harassing her, but the appearance of a dismembered body makes for a real game changer. And what Karl Gatlin initially thought was a fairly innocuous case turns out to be anything but.
Dispatching former rugby superstar and Maori friend John Ratu to protect Aria, Karl and his hacker assistant Matt are free to investigate a ruthless pastor, a money launderer on the run, some sketchy members of Aria’s flock, and warring drug gangs. With his dog Larry as a wingman, Karl uncovers a broad swath of corruption, identity theft, blackmail, and more murders. But nothing is as it seems, and as the investigation heats up, Karl is framed, chased, and forced to dive into the freezing water of the Monterey Bay to escape a sniper.
Against the backdrop of a ticking clock, Karl races to find answers. But more murders only mean more questions—and Karl is forced to make an impossible choice when it turns out Aria’s secret may be the most harrowing of all…
An intelligent, intense and engaging tale, Blood and Wisdom races from the opening scene to the final page. Brimming with colorful, multi-dimensional characters, wit, humor, and a taut storyline, Blood and Wisdom is filled with twists, turns, and surprises. Novelist Verlin Darrow, a practicing psychotherapist, infuses Blood and Wisdom with fascinating details about psychology and metaphysics, and seamlessly blends elements of hardboiled and softboiled detective fiction. With its original premise, smart plotting, to-die-for redwood-studded coastal Santa Cruz and Big Sur setting, and protagonist like no other, Blood and Wisdom is a pitch-perfect PI novel.
Blood and Wisdom has garnered high advance praise. According to Richard House, MD, author of Between Now and When, “Darrow has a sense of plot and style that carries the reader forward into that special place of anxious expectation, the place where putting the book down is unthinkable. Fascinating.” C.I. Dennis, author of the Vince Tanzi series, including Tanzi’s Luck, praises Blood and Wisdom for its “great pace, fun characters who you care about, plenty of twists, and narrative personality.”
About the Author:
Verlin Darrow is a psychotherapist who was patted on the head by Einstein, nearly blown up by Mt. St. Helens, survived the 1985 8.0 Mexico City earthquake, and, so far, has successfully weathered numerous internal disasters. He lives with his psychotherapist wife in Northern California. They diagnose each other as necessary.
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