- File Size: 1428 KB
- Print Length: 198 pages
- Publisher: Ben Coleman Books; 1 edition (August 22, 2014)
- Publication Date: August 22, 2014
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00MZHEDM2
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,989 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
|Digital List Price:||$3.99|
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Thin Places: Hawaii (A Romantic Suspense Series...with a touch of Fantasy, Book 2) Kindle Edition
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An epigraph after the table of chapters explains Eric Weiner’s concept of “thin places”: “…locales where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we’re able to catch glimpses of the divine….” Weiner, a former correspondent for National Public Radio, discussed several such places in “Where Heaven and Earth Come Closer,” his Cultured Traveler column from the New York Times of March 9, 2012. His definition continued, “…glimpses of the divine, or the transcendent or, as I like to call it, the Infinite Whatever. ¶ Travel to thin places does not necessarily lead to anything as grandiose as a ‘spiritual breakthrough,’ whatever that means, but it does disorient. It confuses. We lose our bearings, and find new ones. Or not. Either way, we are jolted out of old ways of seeing the world, and therein lies the transformative magic of travel.” Weiner’s article goes on to describe examples of such thin places. Some are sacred, like St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City; the Blue Mosque in Istanbul; St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York; the Bangla Sahib gurdwara, a Sikh temple in New Delhi. Others are secular, or, at least, not so sacred—Hong Kong International airport; a “very thin bar, tucked away in the Shinjuku neighborhood of Tokyo;” the tomb of the Persian poet and Sufi mystic Rumi (1207–1273), the laureate of Islam, in the central Turkish city Konya; the village of Boudhanath in Nepal; the Bund (waterfront area) in Shanghai; the hilltop Montmartre district in Paris; even Powell’s Bookstore in Portland, Oregon.
At the beginning of the series, Buck Cheyne is 32 years old, and carries 180 pounds on his lanky 6'3" urban cowboy frame. He has medium-length light brown hair and blue eyes. He is a wealthy entrepreneur whose home and eponymous Buck Cheyne Enterprises are in Dallas. He attended SMU and was a frat boy there, and he has been an orphan for ten years. He drinks Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, although without specifying how old he likes it (15, 20, or 23 years); my guess would be the 95.6 proof 23-Year-Old, a fifth of which retails for $250. The point is that Buck has an appreciation for material finery. He owns a Gulfstream G650 (with a price tag of $64.5 million) and maintains a stable of personal pilots, and he has a black Mercedes E350 Cabriolet available wherever he lands. He takes the time to enjoy good food (haute cuisine, as well as the occasional “fat juicy cheeseburger”—at one point an In-N-Out double-double, animal style) and fine wine on a regular if not always daily—given his crowded schedule of business management and other adventures—basis.
Owning and running a multinational conglomerate poses its challenges, even for someone with the gifts and resources of a man like Buck. In the first novel, his Element119 research and development operation in Los Alamos has come under federal investigation. Incidentally, the idea of element 119 (Uue), with, at least in Mr. Coleman’s fiction, powerfully curative properties (it kills HIV, for one thing) as well as potentially deadly ones, is certainly intriguing. In the real, i.e. nonfictional, world, it has already been given a Latin placeholder name, Ununennium—“one-one-nine-ium”—but attempts to synthesize it, since at least 1985, have proven unsuccessful to date. If it existed, it would need an additional electron shell (8s) and require expansion of the Periodic Table to an eighth “period.” It would be a very heavy alkali metal, in the s-block of the table with sodium (Na), potassium (K), rubidium (Rb), caesium (Cs), and the extremely rare francium (Fr). The book elides these details, but sometimes what’s unwritten is as interesting as what’s on the page—or screen, in this case.
Early in Thin Places: Santa Fe, Buck has an intense, disconcerting, mystical, and very nearly physically incapacitating experience while jogging on the Dale Ball Trails in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains east of the city. The episode involves an encounter with a stranger who speaks with him, although in the aftermath, Buck wonders whether he might have been hallucinating. In Thin Places: Hawaii, Buck is vacationing with his lady friend, Princeton-educated hotel manager Elizabeth Harrington, when she has a similarly unsettling experience near Charles Lindbergh’s gravesite at Palupalu Ho’omau Church on the south side of Maui. These episodes are fascinating, but they are tangential to the plotting, which is otherwise one of Mr. Coleman’s strengths. His stories keep you turning the pages, or shifting screen-loads on your Kindle. And Buck and Liz are taking their (mostly) sweet time about consummating their romantic relationship. (Remember that antiquated novelty called courtship?) In fact, there’s as much suspense regarding when they’ll do it as with other plot points—most of which concern Buck’s attempts to preserve his business enterprises and protect his immediate circle of friends and employees.
I have known Ben Coleman for more than forty years. I was honored to have stood up with him at his wedding to Rebecca, the dedicatee of his second novel, and thrilled to have been included in three of his family vacations, including to Hawaii in 1989, where we visited one of his thin places—Lindbergh’s gravesite—on a group outing one November afternoon. I feel qualified to assert with confidence that Buck Cheyne is Ben’s alter ego. They even have the same monogram. Buck is, we might say, Ben’s idealization of himself as a younger man. This is virtually a convention of serial fiction. Thus, Kay Scarpetta has much in common with her creator, Patricia Cornwell; Kinsey Millhone with Sue Grafton; Jack Reacher with Lee Child; and so forth. (For all I know, Sam Spade bore a striking resemblance to Dashiell Hammett, Philip Marlowe to Raymond Chandler, and Jane Marple to Agatha Christie toward the end of her career.) Clearly, Ben is in good company in this respect. His challenge going forward—and he has begun work on Thin Places: Big Bend already—will be to make Buck as interesting a character as he himself is. It won’t be easy, but I’m betting he can.
I found it a nice balance of adventure and romance, with a spiritual thread that is not heavy handed or preachy. Knowing a few of the locations described made the book come alive even more.