Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Clever Little Book

Quite by a fortunate accident, I picked up a book by Peter Rennebohm, something of a neighbor out here in farm country.
by Charlie Leck

I stopped at a little print shop in a neighboring town last week to get some legal-sized copies made for my wife. While one of the clerks was off making the copies for me, I picked up a cloth-bound book from a stack of them sitting of the counter. The cover art was intriguing and the title caught my attention – Buried Lies by Peter Rennebohm (author of French Creek and Blue Springs). It had the look and feel of a self-published book, but the back cover had some intriguing and worthy endorsements.

“A great adventure story. Entertaining. Well done!” [Vince Flynn, author of Protect and Defend]

“A true page-turner and a barn burner!” [Robert Walker, author of City of the Absent]

The clerk was taking a little while, so I cracked open the book and began reading the Prologue. Something about it captured by attention.

The Creator gathered all of Creation and said, “I want to hide something of great value from the humans until they are ready for it.”

“And what is this thing you speak of?” All of Creation asked.

“It is the realization that they can create their own reality.”

Various elements of creation – a hawk, a salmon and a buffalo – proposed suggestions for a hiding place, but their ideas were rejected by the Creator. Grandmother Mole, however, was profound in her suggestion and the Creator accepted it.

“Put it inside of them.”

And the Creator said, “It is done!”

The clerk returned with my copies and told me I owed her a few bucks. I unfurled a twenty and she seemed to look at it oddly. I had the book in my hands and it was cheap enough so I extended my purchase.

“I’ll take one of the books, too,” I said. “Have you read it?”

“No! Don’t read fiction!”

“Looks interesting. Selling many of them?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t sold any!”

I left the print shop and, instead of sliding into my car, I walked across the street to a fancy coffee shop and ordered one of those frothy, over-caffeinated, super-hot latté drinks. I found a chair in a quiet corner and settled down to begin Mr. Rennebohm's cheap, little book.

After awhile, my legs felt as if they were cramping and my neck ached somewhat. I looked up at the left corner of the page I was reading and saw that I turned through 138 pages – practically without blinking. Chapter twenty-three lay ahead. I laughed at myself and wondered at my life. It’s nice to be retired and have so little demands on one’s time. If you want to sit, cornered, in a little coffee shop for a couple of hours and read an insignificant and basically unknown book, you may!

I looked around for someone I might know, so I could tell them that Rennebohm was telling quite an interesting little story – just enough mysterious intrigue and superficial sex and surprises to make one keep plugging on and turning pages. The dialogue was realistically good and the description was acceptable and extensive enough. The story, to that point, had obviously been captivating or I wouldn’t have lost track of time and allowed my latté to grow very cold.

The book got set aside for a few days as I busied myself around the yard, cutting and raking and cleaning up for the winter that seems lazy about arriving this year. On the 8th of November, in Minnesota, I played a round of golf with a few friends. If you’re reading this in Georgia or South Carolina, that’s not big news. Here in Minnesota, it is! It was balmy and delightful and I played my best round of the year, as I predicted I would before we teed-off (but I always make that prediction, so my friends just chuckled as they always do). They came over to my place for a few minutes after the game and, with no beer in the house, I served a choice of V8 Juice or scotch whiskey. We sat out on our little dining porch and tallied up the winnings and the debts. It’s nice to finish the season with a big win. The final tally showed I’d won a buck and a half.

They were gone soon enough, heading back into the big city from whence they’d come. I was alone again with a good scotch under my belt and a nice round of golf in my memory. I picked up Buried Lies and found my little Post-It Note stuck on page 139. I poured another scotch and went back out on the porch to read for a few minutes before I got dinner started. I remember leaning back once, to flip on the overhead light as the twilight set in. It was extremely dark outside when I heard my wife’s car coming up the driveway. My whiskey glass was empty, the air had grown chilly and I hadn’t started any sort of dinner, but I’d read on, with barely a blink, to page 220.

I jumped up and started scurrying around, wondering what I could do about dinner. I pulled a bag of frozen chicken wings from the freezer and turned on the oven all in one motion. A couple of good looking avocadoes and a big, juicy tomato were in a basket on the center counter. It wouldn’t be masterful, but it would do.

That night I slept a bit fitfully. I don’t know whether it was the memory of those half-dozen wonderful golf shots, the nagging mystery behind the story I was reading, or the scotch’s after-affects. Anyway, I rose mighty early and quietly slipped out of the room and up to my study. I saw the copy of Roger Hodges book, The Mendacity of Hope, sitting there on a corner of my desk. Someone had asked me to write a review of it from a liberal’s perspective. I thought about it, but that’s all. I peeled open Rennebohm’s book again and began following the lovely Cassidy and her friend, Gus, up into Navajo Country above Phoenix. The search for a mysterious treasure was underway and both bad guys and good guys were looking for it. Danger lurked everywhere.

A couple hours later, my wife called out to me from the darkness down below. I’d again read for a solid two hours without realizing the time was flying by. I’d arrived near the end of the mystery and everything was unraveling before my eyes, but danger still lurked. There was only one chapter and an Epilogue to go, but I needed to make fresh coffee.

If you like to read mysteries and thrillers and adventure stories, as I occasionally do, I really recommend this unknown book to you. It’s not Alan Furst or John Grisham, but it’s really quite good. Peter Rennebohm is not a polished writer, but he’s a good writer. You can find out more about him at his web site.

After she’d had her coffee, my wife ambled down the hill behind our house, heading for the pastures and paddocks where her sheep were waiting for her to bring their morning meals. I took Buried Lies with me and climbed back up to my little tree-house study. I read the few pages I had left and closed the book, completely satisfied with the tale I’d read. It’s deserving of a bigger audience than it’s getting.

I guess there’s nothing as fun as a treasure hunt with both bad guys and good guys racing to find the mysterious prize first.

Rennebohm, Peter: Buried Lies [North Star Press of Saint Cloud, St. Cloud, Minnesota, 2008]


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