Book Universes: A Very Thin Line
by S. H. Marpel
Published: Feb 2019
With dialogue: Carol, John Earl Stark, Hami.
Mentioned: Bert, Tish, Gaia, Tess, various Ghost Hunter team, unnamed military types and politicians.
Main Story Structure: Mystery
Secondary Structure: Action-Adventure
Main Settings: Gaia’s “bedroom”, Hami’s saloon, Bert’s valley, Area 51.
Theme/Notable Quote: “Success begins with a fellow’s will— It’s all in the state of mind.”
I was walking in my pasture one sunny afternoon, when a pair of hands pulled me into the underworld.
Once I arrived, I relaxed – a bit. Because it was an old friend. Carol. A time-bender and now a Lazurai as well. Meaning she could walk through rock – and other things.
“Hi John. How have you been?” Carol was standing in front of a crystal fire place, warming herself from the magma heat that was channeled out of the earth’s core.
“Not bad, Carol. Other than being pulled deep into the earth without a simple request, or how-de-do.”
“Sorry about that. Really. But I need your help – because I’m worse than haunted now – I’m being hunted.”
“And I’m the only one who can help you?”
She smiled, embarrassed, and shrugged. “Yeah, that about sums it up – other than how many people are after me…”
Just walking along in the pasture, out to check my cows, when two hands reached up and pulled me underground.
I kinda resented that. Because it was turning out to be a brilliant, sunny day. Winter had let go – at least for now. I could get outside with a light jacket instead of a heavy winter chore coat.
The company I was keeping lately probably meant this was another mystery to solve.
Hands had come up from below to grab me before, but these weren’t Gaia – that earth goddess I’ve been working with. This wasn’t the same touch. Firm, and female, sure – but not Gaia.
Before I could wonder how I could tell things like that, we arrived.
It looked like Gaia’s “bedroom” chamber again. Crystalline though, but feeling like a large cave of crystal. Its walls were slightly different, more orangish than the clearer yellow-white interior. But solid crystal, regardless.
We were both “breathing” solid rock again. And moving through it like just so much open space.
I found a bench-like rock formation of “thicker” granite to sit on, and focused on my kidnapper.
She had her hands out toward the rock hearth in the room, warming up from the magma heat being channeled up from somewhere below.
Then she turned around. As I suspected from her simple outfit a light jacket over a simple patterned blouse tucked into some black jeans – all designed to be inconspicuous – it was Carol. Time-bender and Lazurai.
She smiled at me. “Sorry I didn’t ask before I whisked you down here.”
I had to smile in return. “Better to ask forgiveness than permission?”
A broader smile. “Something like that – but I knew you’d like a good story. And besides, like the first time we met, I don’t know who else to go to. This problem is huge – or at least seems that way to me.”
I had to shake my head, like I said – the company I’ve been keeping lately. They know I’m in it for the story. “OK, tell me this huge problem – dramatic situation first, please.”
She chuckled a little. “John, you have a way to make anyone feel at ease. Sal and Jude have told me straight about you.”
A few steps across that bedroom suite let her sit next to me on that granite bench. “There’s a huge group that has been trying to capture me. They’re chasing me through time wherever I go, trying to head me off. Running has been my only option until now.”
This book came to Marpel for writing as just the title – and the concept that winning is a thin-line difference from losing. Just moving over from one to the other is a matter of simple thought – followed by action.
Although it’s a surprising adventure, we haven’t had any book that shows up in several major cities like this. Much less taking on the U. S. Government and an entire base filled with military types.
The unfortunate scene involves that the “plot hole” in the Marpel universe that Carol pointed out in her first book might have been plugged. She said there was no recurring villain, and then stumbled across a group of individual with gizmo’s trying to track her down. In this latest book, she now gets considerable help to temporarily shut down Area 51 and stop their government programs that targeted “special abilities” persons. Of course, and typical for Marpel stories, no one was hurt.
Of course, this does open up an “uneasy truce” between the two groups, so there can be some development here, perhaps.
The most picturesque view in this book is a bunch of people up to their armpits in dirt and unable to free themselves, yet trying to threaten their way out of it. And the over-vocal ones literally get a sock put in it. (Those usually also wound up sunk in dirt up to their chin.)
You do see many characters show up “off-page” in this: Star, Sylvie, Gaia, Ben, Tess, Betty.
And Hami’s saloon and her famous cooking. Sweet potatoes fried up in slices sounds like a great compliment to her cheeseburgers in home-made buns.
Bert’s valley is of course out of C. C. Brower’s “Hooman Saga” universe. As is the mention of Tess currently being on the moon in that time-space.
Lazurai is a series of stories first started by J. R. Kruze with the book of that name.
Carol is a time-bender-turned-Lazurai and the most trained of all the Ghost Hunters. But even she has to go off for more training with Gaia and Tess – just to hone special skills and techniques.
There is also the mention of shifters, which again goes to the Brower universe. While this hasn’t been much explored, shifters who were treated by Lazurai also can gain those abilities. All meaning that we have some interesting possible story arcs that may be calling for stories.
That person Betty took underground and probably treated enroute had a short appearance in Brower and Marpel’s “Moon Bride“. His name is Sam, and he was a distant admirer of Sue, the heroine of the Hooman Saga. (I think he now has a thing for her sister Shelby, as I recall – but that story hasn’t surfaced yet.)
Some questions remain from this book. One is where all those secret government materials went. One idea might be that they went into the Ghost Hunters Library. Or maybe they got put into an alternate space-time in Bert’s valley. Maybe Gaia took them far deep into the Earth. ???
And that “piece of paper” that they signed – might just wind up on the Internet as a way to start disclosing their presence. But then, these Lazurai and Ghost Hunters don’t have the problem of dealing with normal humans like so many TV shows do. (X-men, and so on.) They pretty much stay anonymous.
The ones with really wild talents are pretty much all on the moon. You saw two of them mentioned here as taking out satellites in orbit. And that is a whole super-hero(ine) adventure series just waiting to happen.
Marpel was as surprised as any that John had a huge speaking role in this book.
And I believe this is only the second out of two times that there’s a reference to John writing self-help before he retired to this remote farm to write mysteries.
That’s about all for this installment.
We’ll see you next time…