“Two hours later, matching redheads…contemplated me across a king-size bed….My pulse was racing…”How’s it going, girls?’ I said. Lola’s mouth was an immovable line. I switched my attention to Maude and her eyes met mine….’So what happened? You swap souls or something?’ Lola lifted one dimpled starfish hand and started to suck on the middle two fingers. Her eyes glazed over with pleasure. Maude chortled and reached in my direction, causing her to tip onto the mattress in a perfect face-plant.” Tenzing Norbu is in a situation fraught with more potential danger than any he had faced in the various stages of his detective careers. He had never been alone with one infant; having the care of two was incomprehensible. At ;east their parents had only gone out to pick-up the take-out order.
Not many detective novels include the detective’s musings about child care but Ten Norbu isn’t the usual detective. The child of an American college drop-out and a Tibetan Buddhist monk who met when she was traveling through India, Ten’s life has been defined by Buddhism and Arthur Conan Doyle. When young,he had lived in Paris with his mother until she died from a life lived in alcohol. Ten is sent back to India to live at the monastery with his father where he would train to be a monk, too. But Ten is focused on the only career he has ever wanted. Ten needs to be a detective.
Training for a ministry in any religion requires obedience to a lot of rules that don’t make sense. They didn’t make sense when Ten was ten and they didn’t make sense when he was eighteen. Rescue came in the form of a visiting lama who believed Ten needed a mental health break from the monastery. He arranges for Ten to go to the Buddhist Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Ten is to teach people about Buddhism but, in that Ten was having trouble grasping the principles himself, this isn’t going to prove easy. So Ten moves to make his dream come true. He gets an education, takes an exam, and becomes a member of the LAPD. Ten is thirty when he is wounded and when his partner Bill and his wife have twins, Ten realizes that Bill is going to want a job off the streets. Their partnership is going to end anyway so it is the perfect time for Ten to make the final move necessary to make his dream come true. He leaves the job and sets himself up as a private investigator.
Almost before he is ready, he is approached by a woman named Barbara who has come to his home looking for the previous owner. She tells Ten that she has recently escaped from a cult. Ten doesn’t want to help her but when she is murdered, he feels obligated to learn who caused her death. Investigating without a paying client is not the first rule of business but the first rule of ten is “Don’t ignore intuitive tickles lest they reappear as sledgehammers.” Barbara’s death is the sledgehammer that appears because Ten had listened to Barbara’s words but had not heard their meaning.
THE FIRST RULE OF TEN is an Amazon Vine offering which is how I found it. Knowing that the authors are Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay guarantees that I won’t miss the subsequent books in the series. In fact, their is an excerpt from the second book appended to the first. Tenzing Norbu is a most unusual protagonist and the Buddhist principles that have formed his life gives the authors a unique perspective from which to build the story.
THE FIRST RULE OF TEN is also very funny. The laugh out-loud lines sneak up on the reader, hiding in a paragraph, meriting a second reading of the line just so the reader can say, “I thought that’s what I read”. I am looking forward to at least ten books in the series.