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The Master of the Name Kindle Edition
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As to the power of words, especially names, I have no trouble getting that. Words certainly have power, both for good and evil. In this book, as in the real lives of many, even in our modern age, the very name of God has terrifying power. That physical power is held in religious text is certainly something that many religious people of varied faiths believe. Indeed, one may well be aware of the convention of avoiding writing or speaking the ‘true’ name of God, an idea appearing in by degrees in almost all mainstream religions. We can’t know what God calls himself, so then enabling priests of diverse colours to empower themselves.
Linguistics is powerful enough simply in lay usage, dictating so much that goes well and badly in relationships between individuals, ‘tribes’, and nations. When competing religions gets involved in the battle of words then poison soon flows.
At times, I felt that the backstory threatened to strangle the hunt for the murderer, to be dragging me too far from police tracks. I encourage those that have similar thoughts to read on, and perhaps enjoy a Wiki search for information when they have finished: as was my course. The ending is a revelation.
Tavi Florescu has woven his extensive knowledge base into a most exotic detective story. Whether he gets the balance correct between the background and the chase will depend on the individual reader’s preferences. This is a well written novel, which while defying conventional pigeonholing is certainly good literary fiction. As to the detective, I think I would be less intimidated by almost any ‘frankensteinian’ creations. Detective Gray and his pencil are not lightly crossed.
We know that people would usually die for love or money, yet in this mystery it seems that the reason of death is the simple utterance of the Ineffable Name of God—YHWH. Don’t try to say "Jehovah” or “Yahweh” since you’ll be yourself guilty of blasphemy as “he that pronounces the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death” (Leviticus 24:16).
This commandment is apparently ignored by an Hassidic Rabbi from northern California, who becomes the first victim of a vengeful zealot. You may understand then why this case is assigned to Thomas Gray, a strange detective with unorthodox methods, whose HB2 pencil is as deadly as a .44 Magnum. Oddly enough, the suspect is Tobby S., an associate professor of English literature, who runs for his life along with his smart girlfriend all the way to an Orthodox Monastery, in Jordanville, NY. Tobby and Maggy’s relationship grows on their journey together and Florescu proves himself a master in building real and likeable characters caught in extraordinary circumstances. The theme of requited vs. unrequited love, which spans three generations, from The Roaring 20’s up to the present, testifies about how life has a way of replaying the same scenes, but with different sets of actors. Their fledgling love story may be regarded as a fine piece of literary fiction.
The fugitive gives enough time to Detective Gray to figure out the murderer’s Cabalistic rules of the game with the help of a Jewish scholar fond of the numerical features of medieval manuscripts, Wall Street and… coeds. Only that his help comes at an unexpected price, one that no love or money can pay.
I wholeheartedly recommend Tavi Florescu’s The Master of the Name, a book that can accommodate any taste and satisfy any reader. It encompasses both the crime fiction and romance genres while initiating the reader into the Hassidic tales about the magical deeds performed by the Masters of the Good Name (Baalei Shem) with the most powerful Name in the world—The Tetragrammaton (YHWH).
I found some of the issues very difficult to understand and so just had to muddle along there but overall I enjoyed the multi-referencing and the multi-genred quality of the novel. Given “The Master Of The Name” is a detective story, too, (on at least two levels), I was especially intrigued by Detective Gray who came across as amazingly sadistic, and I was also intrigued by Mr. Bigfoot, reminiscent of Frankenstein’s creation…so as mentioned a multi-genred book, to say the least! Wall Street, old manuscripts, original names, Kabbalistic conundrums, Salinger, the law, The Old Testament, rabbis, diaries, the Roaring Twenties, Greek, St. Augustine, academics, blood chemistry, Hebrew, Pythagoras, the Tetragrammaton, and much, much more!
If I do have quibbles, they are to do with what I am presuming are oversights. For example, the typo in ““Did you find anything relevant to the case, Liz” asked Gray.” (Chapter Sixteen) – to quote just one moment in the text where an error crept in.
Overall, a fascinating novel from a very versatile person whose pen name is yet another example of the author’s interest in names and mystery.