Divine Fury – An Enzo Lee Mystery Thriller
By Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author
Robert B. Lowe
Divine Fury is the newly released second book in the series kicked off by the best-selling Project Moses, the bioterroism thriller that made the Amazon Top 20 Mysteries list and was a finalist in the Best Indie Books of 2012 competition.
Reporter Enzo Lee is once again churning out feature fluff for the San Francisco News. He likes his North Beach apartment, steps away from his Chinatown roots. He's content with a life that includes a developing romance as well as dining and jogging his way through San Francisco's picturesque neighborhoods.
Then, he is assigned to cover a mysterious murder and a San Francisco politician's historic attempt to become California's governor. A series of campaign events are mysteriously and dangerously disrupted. A key endorsement is scuttled at the last minute. The murder of a hospital employee takes on new significance when it is linked to a computer spying break-in.
But, finding the culprits behind political sabotage and high-tech hacking take a back seat when it’s discovered that a troubled war veteran armed with guns and explosives has begun a violent journey from small-town Montana to the City by the Bay.
When Lee becomes a target himself he must dodge attempts on his own life while trying to expose the conspiracy and, with the help of police allies, foil an assassination plot.
An interview with Robert B. Lowe:
This is your second Enzo Lee novel. How did you decide to write a series?
It was somewhat by popular demand. When I wrote the first book, Project Moses, I didn’t plan to have the characters survive. But readers seemed very attached to the characters and so I just let them live. It definitely adds a different element, plotting out their lives over a longer period in addition to the immediate story. It makes it a little harder to write the pure thriller since the ongoing character requires some connection with a more normal life. It’s a challenge and I don’t know that it’s my strength – having ongoing characters – but I can see from the reader’s standpoint that it adds a nice dimension.
How do you feel about writing mainly about San Francisco and the surrounding area?
For a time I felt that I had to write about more out-of-the-way places – Cajun swamps or exotic locations like Asia or Africa. I finally decided to go totally the other way and just have things based here. Fortunately, San Francisco has a sort of magical quality to it. People love to visit here so why not visit while reading a book? Also, there are a lot of landmarks and parts of the city people recognize and, I think, are interested in learning more about them or seeing what role they play in a story. Plus, there is the social-cultural aspect. The ethnic, lifestyle mix here is amazing and represents both where the country is heading in many respects as well as the intersection of worlds – Asia, U.S., Latin America. It also has an amazing collection of passionate people with all kinds of interesting and strange interests. So, in terms of peoples, it’s a rich background but also holds the kernels of great stories.
Who are some of your favorite authors and why?
In terms of whom I model for aspects of my writing, I can think of John Grisham and Lee Child for just being able to propel the story forward from a thriller-suspense basis. I appreciate Dick Francis for his ability to interject content – new information about a profession, craft, industry, etc. – where you knew he’d spent a little time doing some research. I also enjoyed his very civilized urbane heroes. And, I enjoyed Michael Crichton in his willingness to take a scientific breakthrough or a social phenomenon and spin it out in a plot that often had a global feel to it. In this genre, there are many others whom I enjoy from John D. MacDonald and John LeCarre to Michael Connelly and Carl Hiaason. I read a lot of history – civil war and founding father type stuff. And, I enjoy non-fiction that tells the story by teaching you a lot of interesting background of a subject in a palatable way.
How did you get to fiction writer after being a journalist, lawyer and high-tech business person and how do all those things fit together for you.
While I was a newspaper reporter, I constantly worked alongside people who were in the process of writing books. Some made the transition to full-time authors. So, it seemed more doable to me, I’m sure, having watched others I knew do it. I’ve been a big mystery/thriller buff since reading the Hardy Boys when I was 10 so I knew the genre and had read hundreds of books that I thought could have been pulled off better than they were. The first book, Project Moses, I really wrote between lawyering jobs when I knew I had a few months hiatus and I just decided to ‘write a book.’ Fortunately, it was well received and so I was encourage to continue. With my journalism background, it helps me to feel there is a reality basis for almost everything I write. So, I research a lot and like to write about things I know. When I write about people in corporate board rooms or in interviews or just meeting in restaurants, I rely on all the experiences I had in my professional life. I’ve been in tense, high-level business negotiations, confrontational interviews and dive bars with nervous sources with key information you need to have. I dredge all that up when I’m writing.
What’s next for Enzo?
I have another one in mind that gets back into a little more science, somewhat like Project Moses. But, I’ve also left his background deliberately a little hazy. Enzo’s father is Scottish and Italian but died when he was young, leaving his Chinese mother to raise him alone. So, I think some exploration into his past and his ancestry will happen – a voyage of self discovery, if you will.
What would you like your readers to part with after reading your book?
First, that it was a good, fast read. Second, that there was some meat to it. That it created a world, characters, plot and situations that linger at least for a little while and create some questions. Finally, of course, I want people to want to read the next book!
THE RAGGED, HIGH-PITCHED strains of the hymn drifted through the hardwood floor of the main church sanctuary above.
“On-ward Christ-ian sol-diers, march-ing as to war…”
More than a dozen kids. All fourth graders or younger. He had watched them march in the dusk through the spring snow and up the stairs of the church. They wore snow boots, puffy pint-sized parkas and ski caps in reds, blues and pinks with tassels hanging from the earflaps and bouncing off their shoulders.
Then – silence. The muffled sound of the choir leader saying something unintelligible. Her strong soprano started the next song followed fitfully by the children as they jumped in at different spots in the first stanzas.
“Mine eyes have seen the Glo-ry of the Com-ing of the Lord…”
Walberg focused on the hardware in front of him illuminated by the flashlight lying on the portable table. Five more tables lay stacked against the wall, resting on the faded green linoleum covering the basement floor. Folding chairs were piled nearby. They awaited the next Sunday’s pancake breakfast when they would be packed with God-fearing members of Christ Episcopal Church, the largest house of worship in the small town of Bliss, Montana.
It was cold in the basement and he could see wisps of his breath in the limited light of the flashlight. But it was still much warmer than outside and his fingers worked the pliers and wire cutters easily.
He had chosen an alkaline six-volt battery as the power source because he knew it would set off the detonators without any problem even in cold or wet conditions. The wire was 18-gauge, solid copper sheathed in black PVC. Strong enough to tolerate jostling but easy to work using either the pliers or his fingers. The key triggering mechanism was cannibalized from a device that worked similar to a garage door opener but with a longer range of operation. He’d picked it up in Salt Lake City the weekend before.
He stripped the insulation off the end of the wire, exposing an inch which he hooked around the second terminal of the battery using the pliers. He screwed the plastic cap down until it clamped hard on the copper wire. He was finished.
He carefully put the tools back in his jacket pocket, picked up the flashlight and inspected the table surface and the surrounding floor to make sure he’d forgotten nothing. Then, he moved to the outside door. It was sturdy metal with an automatic closing mechanism. He searched in the snow outside the door, spotted a small twig and jammed it against the frame so the door looked closed from a distance but remained unlatched.
Walberg only donned a ski cap when the thermometer dipped into the single digits. Tonight, he wore his usual dark brown cowboy hat. He’d done this since high school to distinguish himself from newcomers to the area. Walberg had been born and raised within 50 miles of Bliss and was happy if everyone knew it. Aside from three years in the U.S. Army, this had been his home his entire life. With the hat and his old, suede-leather jacket, he looked like a thin, down-on-his-luck version of the Marlboro Man
The parking lot had been plowed earlier in the day, but the few inches of fresh snow completely muffled his footsteps. In the quiet, he could hear the children clearly now, nearing the end of their song. He moved toward the far end of the lot and the singing grew faint until he could barely hear it when he reached his 1998 black Chevy Blazer.
He opened the driver’s door, reached into the left cup holder in the center console and found the remote switch that he’d left there. It fit easily into the palm of his hand. Still standing outside the Blazer, he closed the car door and found the button on the remote. He stared at the church until he found the center basement window that was just a few inches above ground level. He estimated the distance at 120 yards.
Suddenly, he noticed that the singing had stopped. He heard the children’s voices again. But they weren’t joining together in a Church hymn. The sound was altogether different. He recognized it as the excited chatter of young kids at the end of something. The end of class. The end of school. In this case, the end of choir practice.
“Dammit,” Walberg muttered. He had expected the practice to last at least another 20 minutes. As he watched the church, he saw the main doors thrown open on the far right side of the building and the kids scamper down the stairs – a few in the front, then the main surge, and finally the stragglers who moved slowly and carefully down the steps.
Two of the children ran across the parking lot, heading directly toward him. In the front was a girl, tall for her age with long blond hair bouncing outside of her baby blue ski cap. Behind her ran a younger boy with his jacket hanging open.
They slowed when they got close to him. The girl veered, keeping some distance. She looked at him warily.
“Hi, Uncle Steve,” she said.
“Hi,” Walberg replied without emotion. “Get in the truck. I’ve got something to do.”
He heard them start to bicker as the rear doors closed and they grabbed their seatbelts. Walberg turned his attention back to the church. It was quiet now with the children out and scattered, mostly on the other side of the building where their parents had parked.
He moved his thumb over the remote until he felt the raised button. Watching the dark basement window, he pressed the button. He saw a faint light go on inside the window. He pressed the button again, and the light went out. He waited five seconds and pressed the button a third time. The light came on again.
Walberg was satisfied. The switch worked as expected. With the right explosives, he was confident that he could plant and detonate a bomb remotely. He pulled a cloth bag out of his jacket pocket and walked back across the parking lot to retrieve the hardware from the darkness of the church basement.
About the author:
Robert B. Lowe is a Pulitzer-prize winning author whose fiction is based in San Francisco, his adopted home.
His past experiences – a 12-year career in investigative journalism and a Harvard Law School degree – enable him to write gripping mystery thrillers in both the legal and journalistic fields. Lowe draws his inspiration from John Grisham, Dick Francis and Lee Child and adds his own San Francisco twist. Readers will enjoy his references to the city’s landmarks such as Chinatown, North Beach and Pacific Heights and the Bay area’s foodie culture.
Divine Fury is Lowe’s second novel. His first was the best-selling Project Moses which reached the Amazon Top 20 Mysteries list and was a finalist in the Best Indie Books of 2012 competition hosted by the Kindle Book Review.
Divine Fury continues the adventures of Enzo Lee, a jaded journalist rehabilitating his career as a feature writer in San Francisco who stumbles into scandals and criminal conspiracies that require his investigative expertise to unravel.
When Lowe isn’t writing he enjoys a day at the golf course and spending time with his wife and daughters.