My review of The Heretics Hymnal, a mystery by Ken Dalton
A cryptic phone call from a police detective in Germany caused Pinky to contact Bear and Flo so they could keep his client from being extradited to Germany for murder by hiding him in Pacific grove, California. Pinky’s client was accused of strangling a used book store owner to get a first edition of Martin Luther’s Achtliederbuch—a book published in 1524—a book that all experts agree no longer exists.
While Pinky burns through a couple more legal secretaries, he directs Bear and Flo, “Go to Nuremberg and find someone, anyone, who had the motive, means, and opportunity to murder the book store owner.”
To which Bear replies, “Boss, let me get this straight. We fly to Germany to find a patsy, and then we frame him so the German cops think that the patsy, not your client, murdered the dead dude. Right?”
Bear’s apt observation kicks off the mystery that takes the dynamic trio from the peaceful California town of Pacific Grove to Nuremberg, Germany—the city where Hitler told his Nazi party followers that his Third Reich would last a thousand years.
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Excerpt from The Heretics Hymnal
“I thank you for your cooperation. Herr Delmont, are you familiar with a man named Konrad Kaufmann?”
A curious chill worked down my spine. Kaufmann? A few years ago, I represented a client named Helmut Kaufmann who I had extracted from a trumped-up murder charge. Could it be possible that the Nuremberg murder victim and Helmut were related?
“Detective, I can inform you that I have never known, nor met, nor communicated in anyway with a man named Konrad Kaufmann. Is he an integral part of your investigation?”
“Konrad Kaufmann was the murder victim!”
I said, “This has all been very interesting, but as I stated, I do not know the man and I am a few minutes away from an important meeting with a client.
“Herr Delmont, before you go I do have a few more question that I hope you will be kind enough to answer. My concern is not only the murder of Konrad Kaufmann, but das motiv einer tat.”
“Detective, as I am not up to speed with your native tongue, would you please translate that for me?”
“I apologize. Das motiv einer tat means the motive for the deed.”
“I see. So you are talking about the motivation for the murder that you are investigating. What have you discovered so far?”
“My investigation has led me to believe that the murder victim possessed a book by Martin Luther that is considered extremely valuable.”
“Just how valuable?”
The detective paused. “If the book could be authenticated, perhaps many, many millions of Euros. I am positive that the book is the motiv einer tat!”
My interest perked up. “So you feel the shop owner was murdered for the Martin Luther book?”
“You are correct. However, Herr Delmont, I have not been totally honest with you.”
By this point in our conversation I felt we were finally getting to the reason the man had called me. “There’s more?”
“Herr Delmont, we have discovered some evidence that leads us to believe that the murder of Konrad Kaufmann was committed by his nephew, Helmut Kaufmann, a man who lives in Carson City.
Finally, I understood the reason for the German Detective’s phone call.
Review of The Heretics Hymnal
This book’s premise caught my attention. Lots going on there, and the book, likewise, had much happening. There was action, fun relationships, supposed ancient manuscripts—the list goes on, and it all came together in a unique way.
While the story kept my interest, I struggled to connect with the characters. Pinky, in particular, got under my skin. He was the kind of annoying person who thinks everyone else is annoying, and I got tired of reading about him after a bit. He was also the type who lumps people together. At one point, a female character is given jewelry, and Pinky’s reaction is to say the character fawned over it like all women do over pretty things. Major eyeroll for me, especially since the character didn’t seem like she’d fawn over it. Appreciate it being pretty, yes. Fawn, not so much.
Overall, this one wasn’t quite for me. I got the impression it was supposed to be funny, and parts of it were. But other parts just didn’t jive with my sense of humor. So if it sounds like something you’d like, definitely give it a try.
About Ken Dalton
Ken was born in 1938 at Hollywood Hospital. He grew up in Los Angeles with his parents, his older sister and younger brother.
In a turn of bad luck, the dreaded Polio virus attacked Ken at the age of five.
By the age of sixteen, after eleven years of operations, therapy, and braces to mitigate the effects of Polio, Ken’s luck changed when he met the girl of his dreams. A few years later they married, produced three wonderful children, and settled into a happy life in Southern California.
In 1966, Ken and his family moved to the wine country of Northern California where they bought a home.
Ten years later, Ken, designed, built, and operated a small winery that produced award winning Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
Then, in a moment of madness, Ken began writing. His first article was published in Golf Illustrated. Many more golf articles followed in national and regional magazines including Golf Magazine and Fairways and Greens. Eventually Ken felt the urge to write his first novel.
Now, after the publication of The Bloody Birthright, The Big Show Stopper, Death is a Cabernet, The Tartan Shroud, Brother, can you spare a dime?, The Unsavory Critic, Casper Potts and the Ladies’ Casserole Club, and his non-fiction, Polio and Me, he publishes his latest mystery, The Heretics Hymnal.
Ken Dalton will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.