LET THE DEVIL SLEEP – John Verdon

Dave Gruley retired from the homicide unit of the New York City police department with the highest solve rate in the history of the department. When presented with a puzzle, he can’t leave it alone until he has worked his way through it.  There is a dearth of puzzles in his retirement existence on a small farm in upstate New York and boredom led him to give up the the quiet life and return, unofficially, to that most serious of puzzles, discovering the identity of those who decide they hold the power of life and death. One attempt to find such a person nearly cost him his life.   His wife, Madeleine, is happy in their quiet life but she knows that Dave is not.  When Kim Corazon asks Dave to “look over her shoulder” as she works on her graduate thesis, Madeleine encourages him to do so.  Kim’s mother, Connie Clarke, is a journalist whose article about Dave enshrined his reputation and Madeleine thinks  helping Kim is a way to repay the favor.

Kim’s video project is an analysis of the lives of the families who lost someone to the serial killer who called himself the Good Shepherd.  It has been ten years since the killings stopped and, in those years, no information has surfaced that could lead to an identification.  Kim has the ability to draw out her subjects, to humanize the victims, and to make people care  the survivors and to feel their loss.  The thesis is titled “Orphans of Murder.”  Her thesis adviser is so impressed with her project that he contacts RAM, the cable television network.  Kim’s project fits RAM’s demographic.  RAM does want it but Kim is appalled when she sees how the network has sensationalized her  story.  Dave’s role becomes much more than looking over Kim’s shoulder.  One of Kim’s faithful viewers is the Good Shepherd who comes out of the past and begins killing survivors of the original victims.

As he learns the details of these  murders, Dave discovers that the FBI had conducted a directionless investigation, a tragic oversight since the Good Shepherd had designed a plan guaranteed to point law enforcement in the wrong direction.  The Good Shepherd’s return is both a taunt to law enforcement who have never let the cases go completely cold and a chastisement to the media for not letting the devil sleep.

To frighten the greatest number of people, the Good Shepherd issues a
“Memorandum of Intent”. He identifies those with whom he is at war.

“1. If the love of money, which is greed, is the root of all evil, then it follows that the greatest good will be achieved by its eradication.

2. Since greed does not exist in a vacuum but exists in its human carriers, it follows that the way to eradicate greed is to eradicate its carriers.

3. t The good shepherd culls the flock, removing the diseased sheep from the healthy sheep, because it is good to stop the spread of infection.  It is good to protect the good animals from the bad.”

RAM plays a major role in the resurgence of the Good Shepherd in the public eye and ear.  Television demands that both senses be engaged and RAM demands it more than other networks.

LET THE DEVIL SLEEP is the third book in the Dave Gurney series.  the characters are people a reader will want to meet again and again. The stories take a different path even though the series are essentially police procedurals.  Each book is a reflection on a part of the American psyche in the twenty-first century. ” Let the devil sleep ” is an old saying that warns that stirring things up may lead to problems no one sees lurking in the shadows.  But in creating the fictional RAM, the author squares off against one of the most destructive mind sets in the US today.  It doesn’t take a leap of imagination to see that RAM is the belligerent cousin of the sly and sneaky Fox.  Manufacturing enemies and drumming up hysteria is the MO of Fox.  Convince the viewers that their greatest enemy is their neighbor and badger people into believing that the Founding Fathers really meant handguns when putting “the right to bear arms”into the Constitution. Divorcing history from politics guarantees that no one notices that the phrase refers to the event that started the American Revolution – the British army collecting the arms of the local militia from the armory leaving the colonists in Boston defenseless against an invading army.

In service to ad revenue and audience numbers, “RAM coverage of the Good Shepherd case created the ultimate trash model for cable: endless mindless debates, amplification of conflict, ugly conspiracy theories, the glorification of outrage,  blame based explanations for everything”.  The Bible says we must love our neighbor.  The “RAM” model also appeals to our emotions.  “”…emotion created its own logic, how anger was invariably the mother of certainty.  It is surely one of the great ironies of human nature that when our passions most severely disorient us, we are most positive that we see things clearly.”  Does anyone manufacture phony outrage better than the talking head with the initials S. H.?

In a book about the misuse of the media, John Verdon writes a brilliant indictment of those who swallow everything that is placed in front of them without question because to question requires effort.  The far right in the United States has adopted the politics of a billionaire Australian who moved across the Atlantic after he pulled the rug out from under the British body politic.  The far right insists they are the true American patriots not realizing that they parrot the politics of Rupert Murdoch who increases his wealth at the expense of truth, justice, and the American way.

LET THE DEVIL SLEEP is a must read for anyone with a scintilla of curiosity about the sleeping devil that is a media outlet without conscience,  the only source of information for the majority of Americans.  It is a book that is so good that once started the reader won’t want to put it down until the last page is turned.

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