Amid a category 4 hurricane that levels homes and floods an entire town, a man is murdered. The police shake their heads, insisting he was merely struck by storm debris. But falling limbs don’t leave blood splatter inside a home and on a golf club. Falling limbs don’t remove a computer hard drive containing a manuscript with secrets that some unknown parties want kept concealed. When rare book trafficker Bruce Cable realizes that there’s something rotten in the state of Florida, he enlists the help of the very people who nearly fingered him several years ago for the theft of rare manuscripts from Princeton University. As luck would have it, though, the killer falls into police custody in the final quarter of the novel, through circumstances entirely unrelated to the investigation. A novel with a unique setting and promising start is thus abruptly truncated in a manner disappointingly similar to a Deus ex machina conclusion. Lured in by the hurricane, I was disappointed that Bruce wasn’t nearly as fun in this novel as he was in the original Camino Island, and absolutely peeved at the rush-job ending. Grisham might as well be James Patterson at this point.
Far more engaging was my return to Khalil Gibran. I say ‘return’ because I haven’t featured Gibran here in eleven years (Sand and Foam being the last I ‘read’), but I frequently read from both Sand and Foam and The Prophet. Gibran was the first mystic writer I ever encountered, and he ensnared me completely: I often quote him internally, listening to his voice in my head and thinking about the words. This Lent I decided to finally read his Jesus, Son of Man, which I purchased years ago. I found it as beautifully written as I’ve come to expect from Gibran, delivered in prose that carries the grace of poetry. The work is presented as reminiscences of Jesus from those who knew him, with reflections offered in the months or years after his disappearance. Those contributing are many familiar Biblical personages — the disciples, the various Marys, minor characters in the New Testament like Simeon and Joseph of Arimathea, as well as invented ones — Greek traders, Syrian farmers, etc. Their opinions on Jesus vary widely: while most speak of him with awe and love, there are others who still scoff and spit. Beauty prevails, though. When Gibran has Jesus or the disciples speak, their language is drawn from the New Testament but given a certain Gibranian flair. Those familiar with Gibran will recognize his poetic style, interpreting and bringing the beauty of many Gospel stories all the more to mind. I’m going to follow this post with a few quotes; more are available if you follow me on Goodreads. I loved it and was reminded of why Gibran has stayed so close to my mind in the fourteen years I’ve known of him.