There's a new novel out that's loads of fun and you can read the first chapter right here! Author Chris Well really delivers with his latest crime novel Deliver Us from Evelyn. In the past I've referred to Chris as "a poor man's Tim LaHaye" but now I have to take all that back. Seriously, this is a great book. Check it out:
Sunday night. April 23.
On his last day of this life, the Right Fair Reverend
Missionary Bob Mullins checked the party dip. Just stuck
his finger right in there, pulled some glop free, stuck it in
his mouth and sucked.
Hmm, good dip.
He wiped his saliva’d finger on his jacket, popped the top
off a can of Pringles, shuffled a neat row of curved chips
onto a Dixie brand paper platter.
Setting the can down, he stepped back from the
secondhand coffee table in the middle of the shag-
carpeted office, looked at what his party planning skills had
wrought. And he saw that it was good.
He went to the stereo system across the room, selected a
CD. Personally, he would have preferred something by the
Rolling Stones, maybe Exile on Main Street or Beggars
Banquet -- muscular, honky-tonk rock ’n’ roll you can get
drunk or stoned to, depending on your mood. He could
really go for the bluesy wail of “Tumbling Dice” right now.
But the music library here offered none of that. Besides,
his marks -- that is, the members of his “flock” -- held
certain expectations regarding what music was appropriate
for a prayer meeting. Especially in a small armpit of a town
like Belt Falls, Illinois.
(Who names a town “Belt Falls,” anyway?)
The ladies would be here soon. Then Missionary Bob
could use his people skills, honed from his years of
"ministry," to good effect. Would lead the group in a
spontaneous (but carefully planned) evening following “the
Lord’s leading” -- some Bible, some hymns, some ministry
time. A carefully rehearsed prayer, a combination of wails
and pleas, which experience had shown to be a very
effective prelude to the passing of the offering plate.
Swept up by the rush of maudlin and spiritual emotion, the
ladies would cough up plenty.
“Yea, but there are those who do not have it as
comfortably as we do,” he found himself practicing, fiddling
with chair placement in the circle, maneuvering pillows on
the couch. “Poor children who do not have the food or
clothing or shelter such as we take for granted.”
He double-checked the handy photos on the table. The
orphanage in Mexico went by a lot of names. It would not
do for the Right Fair Reverend Missionary Bob Mullins to
get all weepy-eyed over JESUS AMA A LOS NINOS
PEQUENOS and then whip out a photo showing a bunch of
tiny brown faces smiling under a banner that said
CHILDREN OF HER MERCY ORPHANAGE.
Following the fiasco in the last town, he’d played it cool
once he got to Belt Falls. (Really, who brings a wagon
train across the frontier, breaks ground on a settlement
and says, “From henceforth, this shall be known as
Ever since Andrea -- his partner, his companion, his ray of
light -- had got Jesus, she'd stopped helping with the
scams. Stopped helping him fleece the flock, so to speak.
She laid it on thick enough, It is appointed unto men once
to die, but after this the judgment, and all that.
He tried to smirk it off, tried that face that always brought
her around, but it didn’t seem to work anymore. Whatever
had got hold of her wasn’t letting go.
Missionary Bob would never admit it to anyone, least of all
himself, that the dividing line between success and failure
began and ended with Andrea. When she was working with
him, the scams worked like butter.
But then she got religion and the whole machine went up in
Not that Missionary Bob got the clue. He kept working his
games, town to town, each new gambit failing, each new
town harder to crack than the last.
Once he set up shop here in Belt Falls (don’t even get him
started about the name of the town), he took his time
getting to know the people. He found them to be a small,
close-knit community, smugly going to their church
Smug, but not that pious -- it did not take much effort to
plant sufficient evidence that the only pastor in town was a
raving drug user, maybe even a dealer. Not enough
evidence to get the man convicted -- even the hick sheriff
saw it was a weak case -- but the hapless pastor had to
make only one phone call to the wrong deacon asking for
bail money before word of his unholy lifestyle rushed
through the congregation like wildfire.
In the eyes of God and the law, he was probably an okay
guy. But once a congregation chooses to believe the
worst, a preacher may as well pack his bags and move on.
Missionary Bob had even heard tell of one particular
church, somewhere in the Midwest, where the members
had booted the pastor because he'd had the temerity to
wear short pants to a church potluck.
Yep, hell -- if it existed -- would be packed to the lips with
smug, busybody churchgoers who ran their preacher out
of town because he had worn shorts to a church potluck.
Or, as in this case, was the victim of circumstantial
evidence planted on him by a traveling huckster.
He stood and straightened his dress jacket. Felt a bulge in
his left pocket, was surprised to discover a coaster with the
face of Jesus on it.
He looked around the office, befuddled. When had he
picked this up?
You don’t have to lift anything here, he reminded himself.
You’ve pretty much lifted the whole office already.
Missionary Bob, in what used to be the hapless pastor’s
office, heard steps echoing from the foyer, somebody
clomping up the stairs. My, my, thought the Right Fair
Reverend Missionary Bob Mullins, these ladies do need to
lose some weight, don’t they? Whoever this was, she was
pounding the stairs to wake the devil.
He stopped fidgeting with pillows and stood up straight,
getting into character. Thinking of his plan, his mission,
remembering the correct accent and speech patterns of a
Right Fair Reverend Missionary, an accent as specific and
undeniable as the drawl of New Orleans or the wicked
blueblood of Boston.
There was an insistent pounding on the door, a battering,
really, if he had stopped to think about it. But he was too
wrapped up in the character of a Right Fair Reverend
Missionary. He slapped on a toothy grin and opened the
door. “Welcome, child, to -- ”
It was a man. A. Large. Man. A grizzled bear towering over
him, bloated flannel shirt cascading out of pants where
they were almost tucked, tractor cap on his head declaring
EAT ROADKILL. The grizzly bear pressed his flannelled
beer belly against the Right Fair Reverend Missionary,
leaned down from on high and belched, “I’m Darla Mae’s
The Right Fair Reverent Missionary Bob Mullins broke
character and cursed.
The rest of the confrontation was like a dream, a
nightmare of slow motion, the bear smacking him, a freight
train to the skull, tossing Missionary Bob across the room.
Hitting the coffee table as he went down, elbow in the dip.
The grizzly roaring, storming in, Missionary Bob on the
floor, scrambling backward, away, fleeing in the only
direction he could, farther into the room. The angry
husband kicking the table over, party snacks flying, dip
spattering across the bookcase.
As Missionary Bob kicked to his feet, always moving
backward, until the wall stopped his escape, one question
kept flashing through his mind: Is this about the fake
antique Cross of James or is this about the adultery?
Either way, his back against the wall, this grizzly man
bearing down on him, Missionary Bob was out of options.
The giant man, his eyes red, had barrel fists clenched and
ready to swing, like jackhammers.
There was a noise behind the grizzly, at the open door.
One of the ladies.
The enraged husband turned at the voice. Missionary Bob
took his one and only chance, grabbed the stone head of
Moliere, clubbed the grizzly across the side of the head.
The man stumbled backward and fell.
Missionary Bob, fueled by anger and fear and blind, stupid
adrenalin, kept clubbing, again and again. The man on the
floor now, blood streaming from his head. Missionary Bob
clubbing him with the bust again and again. On his knees,
on top of the man, clubbing him again and again and again.
Finally, adrenalin loosening its grip, Missionary Bob
became aware that the man was not moving. Clutching air
in hot, painful gasps, he dropped the bust to the carpet.
Felt something wet on the side of his face, wiped it with his
sleeve, saw blood smeared on fabric. Not his own blood.
Gasping, wheezing, he looked up and saw the witnesses,
ladies pooling in the doorway, staring agape at the Goliath
on the floor, downed by the David with his stone.
© 2006 Chris Well
You can order the book here: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0736914064/obviouspop-20
You can find out more about the book and the author here: http://www.studiowell.com/ChrisPage.html