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The Gumdrop House Affair, volume 2 in The Monk Mysteries, takes readers on a journey from the untimely death of Saul Greenberg, the financial officer for the Diocese, through the gruesome discovery of a horribly decomposed body no one can seem to explain, to the recurring appearance of the menacing turquoise eyes. Timony McKeever’s characters, Sergeant Jack Laskey and Father William Butler are both painfully aware of the presence and part played in the string of violent acts by the evil they refer to as “The Ugly.” Somewhere between Aunt Rhoda’s World Famous Apple Cobbler and Mona Monahan’s famed Gumdrop House lies the answer to the Laskey and Butler’s questions.
Mysteries top my preferred reading list, and The Gumdrop House Affair ranks among my favorites of recent years. Not having read volume 1 in the The Monk Mysteries, I don’t feel that I was lost. Readers need not read the first installment to fall nicely in step alongside Laskey and Butler as they struggle against “The Ugly.” McKeever does an excellent job bringing readers up to speed on his main characters’ backgrounds.
By far, the McKeever’s character, Aunt Rhoda, is my favorite among the many players in this work. Her strength and no-nonsense attitude permeates every scene in which she is featured. She is capable of curing most any ill with her frying pan alone–that includes the odd home invasion.
The Gumdrop House and its proprietor, Mona Monahan, are as unique as they are colorful. The Gumdrop House is a place of refuge and operated by Mona with open arms and no judgements. Mona is yet another of the author’s strong female characters. The account she relates of her face-to-face encounter with her grandfather, a mobster in his own right, demonstrates her tenacity.
Dialogue is one of McKeever’s most obvious strengths. The author transports readers to the scene of the crime with the colorful conversations between Laskey, Mona, Paisley Bob, and the rest of his lengthy list of players. Nowhere is this more evident than in the most violent and climactic scenes. I am not a fan of excessive profanity, but McKeever uses it sparingly enough and in the most appropriate circumstances to drive home his characters’ emotions.
Within The Gumdrop House Affair, the author intersperses an added layer of first person observations of Deputy Chief Thomas Dugan between authentic dialects and heated exchanges in order to explain his characters’ choices and actions. I truly appreciated this additional twist in McKeever’s writing. He gives his writing the feel of the classic detective novel with these ventures into the mind of one of his characters. This introspection is a welcome addition to the already engaging tale.
Fans of the mystery genre will not be disappointed with Timony McKeever’s police drama. Each of his characters has a rich personality and is portrayed in vivid detail. The multifaceted plot addresses everything from inherent evil to the corrupt dealings within the Catholic church itself. From beginning to end, McKeever’s mystery installment is laced with humor and brimming with everything that makes for an authentic and enjoyable thriller.
Pages: 266 | ASIN: B06Y4S6P44
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The Monk follows Detective Laskey and ex- detective Billy as they attempt to solve a murder while trying to overcome their past. What was the driving motivation behind this book?
The relationship between long time Police partners is unique. Only that between soldiers in combat is comparable. Investigation is far more interviewing, looking at crime scenes and bodies than it is portrayed on television. If you got in a shooting every week like on television, I can guarantee you a lot of Departmental therapy.
You never hear about all the men and women who put on the badge and hit the streets every night, often putting themselves in harms way for people they don’t even know and fulfilling the Oaths and Vows they made. These Officers never get any press and the “Bad Cops” get more press than they deserve.
I hope “The Monk Mysteries” will give more press to the “Good Cops” and provide the reader some insight as to the emotional battles that come with the job while trying to live a normal life.
I could really feel the old camaraderie between Laskey and Billy in this book. What served as sources of inspiration for you while creating their relationship?
Personal experience with longtime Partners. In particular, a guy named Jack, who passed away several years ago and far too soon. We were tight at work and off-duty for years. We worked Patrol, Narcotics and K-9 for years. However, there came a time when a similar situation as depicted in the book, as to a job change caused some friction. We went our separate ways but were able to re-connect before Jack passed away.
What has been the most surprising feedback you’ve gotten from your readers about the book?
Most often is how strong and independent the female characters are. This wasn’t a conscious act on my part rather, it is the type of women that are required to deal with the males in the book. They are also like so many of the women I have known and admired in my life.
This is book one in the Monk Series. Where will book two pick up and when will it be available?
“THE MONK Vol 1 Revised ed” is a revised version of The Monk I wrote ten years ago. After writing ‘The Gumdrop House Affair” Vol 2, of the Monk Mysteries, which has been on Kindle Best seller list for two years, I realized that I had become more confident in my writing and needed to revise the first version of the Monk. Same characters and on Capitol Hill but better and hopefully more entertaining for the Reader.
A Catholic Priest talking about Evil is not unusual. However, a Catholic Priest looking directly into the eyes of “Evil” who the Monk calls “The Ugly” is unusual even for the Capitol Hill area of Denver and St. Benedict the Moor’s Church. This is just one of the “Spiritual Tests” the Monk faces as he attempts to solve the murder of Julia Lopez with his ex-Partner Det. Sgt. Jack Laskey.
With political pressure applied by the Governor, the Archbishop of Denver and the Franciscan Provincial, The Monk becomes a “Special Consultant” and helps Laskey solve the “Murder of the Decade” and save his position which was in jeopardy due to his inability to adjust to any Partner other than the Monk. During the course of the investigation the Monk faces the “Ugly” in many forms in the present and confrontations from the past. Those confrontations led the Monk to become a Priest and a “Spiritual Warrior” as well as a “Physical Warrior.” Leaving the and security of “Our Lady of the Rockies” Orphanage run by his Order, the Monk must return to the streets of Denver and find the killers with Laskey.
William Yeats Butler known as “The Monk” on Capitol Hill gave up a promising career in the NFL to become a Policeman. He had been an All-American at Notre Dame and was a local Hero and role model in Denver. Through 10 years with Laskey as his Partner, they worked Patrol, Narcotics and Homicide. They were the “Toughest Cops” on the streets of Denver. In their quest they are assisted by Irish/Japanese Officer Mai Li McDuff. Some would say she got the worst of both cultures; “Peaches” the transvestite hooker; “Popcan Charley” a resident of Cheeseman Park; “Mikey” the restaurant owner with Mob connections and “Frank” the only “Irish English Bulldog” in Colorado – all this under the watchful eyes of Father Ian Timony, Father Augustus O’Shea and Aunt Rhoda Williams.
The Gumdrop House Affair is a genre-crossing novel with elements of mystery, thriller, and crime drama as well. Did you start writing with this in mind or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I never considered what genre anyone would label or put The Gumdrop House Affair in when I began writing it. The character of Father William Yeats Butler also known as “The Monk”, is so multi-faceted both physically and spiritually and I have known him so intimately, he doesn’t fit just one genre. However, as the book developed from my initial outline it became its own entity. The characters, including the Monk became deeper and, in some cases, more complicated. Empathy, cynicism, anger, spiritual beliefs and violence at all levels came from unexpected sources.
An outline is a good start, but I feel you should never be a slave to it. As I write, my ideas seem to expand because I am more open to the flow of the work. This may sound odd, but often my characters surprise me. They tell me things or remind me of things that I never considered or have forgotten about in their development. The organic part of writing and character development is too important to dismiss because it wasn’t in your outline. It’s what makes it the writing the most fun and rewarding. Sometimes the most beautiful things appear that were never in any outline.
The characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
The Ugly in all his forms and his confrontations with the Monk directly or indirectly. There are a surprising number of Christians who don’t believe in Satan because they don’t want to think about there being a Hell as a possible destination after they die. Every religious belief I’ve read about has some form or entity like the Ugly.
Even those who profess no faith question the seemingly senseless acts of cruelty and violence that man does to his fellow man. What motivates a timid Florist to go home one night, beat his family to death, then kill himself. Someone or something moved this man to commit such an unspeakable crime.
Being the Irish Catholic that I am, expressing how I feel the Ugly works and giving him human forms, a conversational voice and intellect gives the reader an awareness of the Ugly in a way they may not have had before reading any of the Monk Mysteries. He can appear as the 14-foot-tall winged purple creature with a long tail and scale like skin or a handsome man in an Armani suit, what ever works best at the time. If the Devil was at your party, he would be the most popular and attractive person in the room. Plus, he would be able to tell you everything you ever wanted to hear about yourself to make you feel special and superior.
Giving the Ugly a sense of humor, a temper, a social presence and a fantastic awareness of the nature of man made the Ugly a compelling character. His surprisingly humorous shenanigans with the Monk could not hide the true malevolence of his presence. This was intended to make the reader aware who the real enemy in our culture is.
The novel touched on many social issues prevalent today like crime and corruption. What were the themes you wanted to explore in this novel?
Thousands of men and women takes vows and oaths everyday and promise to live up to those vows and oaths as to their jobs as Priests, Nuns, Policemen, Doctors and Politicians. Those who live up to those oaths and vows seldom receive any press. Those who don’t live up to those oaths get more press than they deserve. However, the coverups by the Church, payoffs and ignoring all types of crimes has become culturally systemic in the Church and needs to be addressed.
Having been a Criminal Investigator most of my life I know firsthand these men and women are also human with stresses and problems like everyone else. Everyone has character defects, but too often society expects Priests and those who are in Law Enforcement and positions of trust to be faultless. When you spend so much of your day dealing with people as their worst or as victims it is easy to become extremely cynical.
As in The Gumdrop House Affair, everyone reaches their breaking point and responds one way or the other. Stress, both physical and mental are often internalized in the name of being a “Tough Cop”. What this does to personal relationships and your spiritually is something I wanted the Reader to understand and be aware of. These men and women are just as susceptible to the tricks of the Ugly as anyone else, badge notwithstanding. Often the badge can make it worse.
This is the second book in your Monk Mysteries series. What will book 3 be about and when will it be available?
In Vol 1 The Monk, Father William must deal with his personal epiphany as to his calling to the Priesthood and leave the Police Department. All the while dealing with Jack Laskey’s feeling of betrayal and assisting Laskey with one of the most high-profile murders in years.
In The Gumdrop House Affair the Monk gets to deal with the Ugly head to head and is put on notice the Ugly will be giving him special attention. The first two books take place in Denver. Vol. 3 Death by Kachina takes place in Sedona Arizona and Monument Valley on the Navajo Reservation. “Thou shalt not murder” is the original Aramaic quote for the 6th Commandment. The King James version says “Thou shalt not kill” which has always caused confusion to Christians and non-Christians alike. It is because most people think the definition of kill and murder are the same. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
If you are commanded not to kill why does the Church pray for victories in wars that are won by killing the other people. The Monk is dealing with spiritual burnout and takes a sabbatical in Sedona with old friends. It is not long before spiritual forces have the Monk in Monument Valley dealing with powers and principalities seen and unseen. He will have to struggle with both translations of the 6th Commandment. Due to be published in July 2018.
A Jewish Accountant chokes on a Polish Sausage in a City Park. A young Catholic Priest is found wearing only his collar with a dead “Gay Hooker” hanging from the Ceiling. The body of Mafia “Construction Baron” is found in the parking lot of the Diocese of Denver.
It’s obvious how Denver Homicide Detectives, Sargent Jack Laskey and his partner Detective Mai Li McDuff would become involved with these events. But how does Father William Yeats Butler of the Franciscan Order become totally involved in every one of these events and more with his ex-Partner Jack Laskey.
An African American standing 6’5″and weighing 315 pounds of muscle, Father William Butler was an imposing figure in the robes of a Franciscan Priest. Father William was always known as “The Monk” because of his devout Catholic faith when he was an All American Linebacker at Notre Dame or a Narcotics and Homicide Detective for the ten years that he and Laskey were Partners.
In the tenth year of his police career the Monk felt a calling to the Priesthood. He felt as a Police Officer he was only dealing with the spiritual symptoms of humanity’s illness not the real cause of the illness, the Devil’s influence on common man. The Monk had an acute and powerful awareness of the Devil’s presence. Not a “6th Sense”, but a powerful gift from God.
The Devil, who the Monk calls “The Ugly” is now and always has been active on Capitol Hill. In The Gumdrop House Affair many of his deceptions and ploys are revealed as the Monk and his faith stand against the “Wickedness and the snares of the Devil.” Written by a Veteran Cop the pace is fast, violent, profane, humorous and honest.
A tribute to the men and women who give all to stay true to their Vows and Oaths as they protect a cynical public and a decaying culture.
You will fall in love with Father Augustus O’Shea, Aunt Rhoda, Popcan Charlie, Paisley Bob Lewis, Frank the English Bulldog and all the people who visit St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church.
The Gumdrop House Affair”deals with the recent Sex Scandals in the Catholic Church and the effects in an honest Blue Collar Layman’s fashion.
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