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.
Connect with Verlin Darrow:
“Do you think we still need John?”
“I have no idea. Having a bodyguard was your idea, Karl. But if you’re asking me if I’m enjoying helping him, the answer is very much so.”
“Of course. That’s what I do.” Aria pulled her hands apart and then tilted them as though she were holding an invisible beach ball.
Something occurred to me. “Are you helping me, too? I mean, in some weird way besides answering my questions.”
“Did you sleep especially well the night we met? Right now, are you present and invigorated?”
I checked in with myself. I was feeling very alert, and the monkey chatter in my head was noticeably reduced. But the idea of somebody screwing with me without my permission was not okay with me.
“You know,” I said, “there’s something my first clinical supervisor told me. Well, first and last supervisor. Let’s face it, I got canned just a few months later, didn’t I? He told me that unsolicited help is interference.”
“I agree. What you’re experiencing is just the side effect of someone at your stage of spiritual development being exposed to my type of energy field.”
“Like what happened to Larry? Aria, let’s not get too weird. I’ve been tolerant of your beliefs, and I know you think all this is germane to the case, but…” I didn’t care to go further with this. I was likely to say something offensive.
She smiled another sweet, gentle smile. “I’m doing the best I can to minimize whatever would be difficult for you to handle, Karl.”
Larry barked. I glanced at him, and he barked again—more urgently this time. He was hearing something alarming that I couldn’t hear yet.
I stood. “Stay here,” I told Aria. “I mean it.” I didn’t wait to see her response.
Larry and I ran outside and hurtled down the front porch stairs. After a half-dozen steps toward the sound of a powerful motor, I saw it. A humongous silver SUV tore across the meadow, heading straight for us.
I dove to the side, behind a dangerously slim fruit tree. Larry remained on his feet, barking frantically as the truck bore down on him. I pulled my gun and called my dog, and thank God he obeyed. He was by my side in a flash.
Unfortunately, neither of us sensed the man behind us in time. He kicked the pistol out of my hand just before Larry took him down, but by then it was too late.
The SUV skidded to a halt, and three men piled out. One of them was the guy who’d stopped me on the road—the driver’s side guy. None of them held a weapon in his hand. They didn’t need them. There were four of them, and I was now unarmed. Presumably, someone was calling this in to the police, but we were out in the boondocks. It might be a while before a car could get to us.
“Larry!’ I called. “Heel!”
I didn’t want him getting hurt. He was astride the big guy on the ground next to me, but he backed off and sat by my side.
Larry’s guy kicked my gun away from me and moved behind us again in case we tried to run. With my knee, that wasn’t an option.
The other three stood directly in front of us now. “We meet again,” the guy with the acne said. “Where’s the woman? Is she in one of these buildings?”
I guess I didn’t answer fast enough. He stepped forward and pistoned a straight right to my gut. Jesus. This guy could punch. I’d tried some amateur boxing when I was young. Nobody had hit that hard—and this guy was a bantamweight at the most. I doubled over, trying not to retch.
“Hit him again,” one of the other men said in Spanish.
Then I heard a primeval bellow—a sound so deep and loud, all of us froze for a moment.
John Ratu sprinted around the corner of the building and tackled the boxer, driving him into the man next to him. Before the other one in front of me could react, John shot out his massive leg and swept the guy’s legs out from under him. In about two seconds, he’d knocked down all three of them.
I turned around. “Attack!” I called to Larry, and he launched himself at the guy behind us. I almost felt sorry for him. I headed for my pistol, which was about fifteen feet to the side of me.
The guy who’d punched me cut me off. He’d scrambled to his feet and eluded a roundhouse kick from John, who was now engaged with the other two attackers.
The man crouched on the balls of his feet, looking like a cross between a boxer and a martial artist. I had no doubt he could beat the crap out of me in a fair fight. It was lucky I didn’t fight fair.
He didn’t either. He pulled a double-edged knife on me and lunged forward, the weapon held low. He was going for my crotch.
I hit the ground and called Larry. We’d practiced this move at the training school we’d attended in New Mexico. With a running start, Larry leapt onto my back and launched himself. He was about head height when he reached our attacker, who was leaning forward. Larry’s open jaws clamped onto the guy’s cheek, and he screamed.
I heard sirens now. I got up, retrieved my gun, and held it on the four men on the ground. Once Larry had disabled his foe, he’d lost interest in the whole attack thing. And it had taken all of a minute for John to dispatch the other two, one of whom wasn’t moving at all.
We waited for the police. After taking all our statements, corroborated by multiple witnesses, they hauled off the thugs and towed away their SUV.