In the world of the paranormal identifying good and evil is even easier. Demons, Vampires, and Zombies are often portrayed as soulless creatures of the night, without qualms when it comes to murdering the innocent. Writers also tend to portray evil characters as ugly and good ones as attractive. In Ruler of Demons, a character's goodness or evilness cannot be determined just by looking at them.
Ruler of Demons revolves around the idea that sacrificing innocent people can bring about the End of Days. This seems like an easy call on the good vs. evil scale. Yet it is not. Since ancient times, there have always been people who believe that performing acts of great evil will summon the messiah to earth. Thus, they practice evil to bring about a positive outcome.
In Ruler of Demons it is unclear if the ancient cult is seeking to summon the messiah or the devil. I also explore the question of whether or not the devil is a creature of pure evil. Did the devil simply get bad press in the Bible?
These issues are relevant in our day and age. Terrorists believe they are doing the Lord’s work when they murder the innocent. Perpetrators of evil usually claim they are in the "right"--whatever that means. Religion has often been used to justify bad acts, from slavery to war. Religion has also helped feed the poor and clothe the needy.
Yet, all of these heavy philosophical issues need not be resolved in order to enjoyRuler of Demons. There are problems fiction can’t solve. I know, crazy, right? In fact a hug and a bottle of bourbon will do more to bring people together than any novel. That said, you never know.
I also find that snacks have the ability to help bring people closer together. It is hard to be angry at a person, no matter what your philosophical differences, when there is a snack tray in front of you. My suggestion would be to cuddle up by the fire with a special someone along with a tray filled with chocolate, cheese and a copy of Ruler of Demons. Unless you read the book, you'll never know if Sam will actually save the world or if mankind has run out of time.
When you're done, you may still have questions about the nature of good and evil. Sam, Bob, and Susan are--in the end--just regular people confronted by unusually powerful religious zealots. Mostly I just hope you enjoy their company.
The Fraternity of the Soul Eater
A Samuel Roberts Thriller
Scott A. Lerner
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Thriller
Publisher: Camel Press
Date of Publication: June 15, 2015
ASIN: Not yet available
Number of pages: 218
Word Count: 57k words
Cover Artist: Sabrina Sun
It’s been a while since Samuel Roberts was called upon to save mankind, and he’s getting restless. His girlfriend Susan thinks he’s a danger junkie, and he’s worried he has a hero complex. He’s back to his usual small-town lawyerly duties in Champaign-Urbana, handling divorces and helping people beat DUI raps. But then a young fraternity pledge calls. During an initiation ceremony he witnessed the live sacrifice of a young woman, but he had so much alcohol in his system that no one believes him. Except Sam. Lately Egyptian lore has been creeping into his life, his dreams, and his movie preferences, and he’s pretty sure he knows why. Evil is knocking on his door again.
Is the call welcome? Why can’t Sam be satisfied with his comfortable legal practice and gorgeous redheaded girlfriend? Maybe it’s because he knows that, as inadequate as he may feel to the task, he and his friend Bob may be humanity’s only hope against ancient supernatural forces combined with modern genetic engineering. Come hell or high water. Or in this case, the underworld or subterranean pyramids.
The Fraternity of the Soul Eater is the third book in the Samuel Roberts Thriller series, which began with Cocaine Zombies and continued with Ruler of Demons.
Available at Amazon
She was wearing tight black jeans and a low-cut cropped T-shirt that exposed ample cleavage. A golden ankh dangled between her breasts. On one forearm was a tattoo of a bird I assumed to be a lark, and on the other, a tattoo of a hawk. Her bright blue eyes matched her hair. She was striking looking but by no means beautiful. A slight muffin top was made more visible by her short shirt, and she had apparently broken her nose at least once in her life. She smelled like sandalwood and cinnamon.
I would never cheat on Susan, but I had to admit there was something sexy about Lark. I tried to put my prurient thoughts away and deal with the issue at hand. Also, the ankh made me wonder if she was playing for the other side. I was not a big fan of birds, which for me had always been a harbinger of bad luck.
“So what is it that you couldn’t tell me at the courthouse?”
“I’m a graduate student at the University of Illinois and heard from a friend about Chris’s case. I went to the preliminary hearing to get more information.”
“That’s fine—it’s an open courtroom—but I can’t tell you the specifics of his case.”
“I am here to help you, not the other way around.”
“Cool!” I leaned back in my chair, trying to look casual. “Tell me what you know.”
“My sister was at a party at that fraternity three years ago. She has not been seen since. I believe she was killed there. I can’t prove it, but I have been trying to ever since.”
“Did you call the police?”
“No, I called Pizza Hut.” She sighed. “I’m … sorry. This whole thing …. it’s hard to talk about. Yes, I called the police and the FBI. I even hired a private investigator.”
“None. In fact, they all told me to let it go.”
“I take it from the fact you are here that you didn’t ‘let it go.’ ”
“You take it right. I was attending the University of Iowa. I was close to getting an MFA in fine arts but I transferred to the University of Illinois a year and a half ago. I’ve been investigating the fraternity ever since.” As she spoke Lark moved her arms about in quick gestures, reminding me of the bird she was named for.
“What have you learned?”
“For starters, I believe your client.”
She hesitated, as if pained by what she was going to relate. “Last year I dated a guy named George Hammond. He was a rich kid, kind of a geek, but he was okay. I essentially stalked him until he agreed to go out with me. At first I was only interested because he was pledging the fraternity. I know I was using him, but he was using me too. When he got accepted into the fraternity he told me a few of their secrets.”
“Any chance I could chat with George directly?”
She shook her head, a little violently. “Not unless we hold a séance. I’m sorry. I appreciate you speaking with me, and I don’t mean to be sarcastic. George died in a car accident. Actually, he was murdered, but I can’t prove it.”
“What did he tell you?”
“Every fall the fraternity sacrifices a girl. Their choice is based on her not having much in the way of family or money. They want someone who won’t be missed. The organs are removed as though she is to be mummified. Since there’s no pyramid to bury them in, the bodies are not wrapped or mummified or even kept.”
It was difficult to absorb what she was telling me. “That is nightmarish. What the hell do they do with the bodies?”
She jerked her shoulders up and down in a shaky shrug. “Who knows?”
“Why would they do such a thing?”
She looked mournful now. “George didn’t know. It may have been to test the pledges’ loyalty to the fraternity. He said they would commit the murder at a hidden temple and that the members would have to chant ancient prayers as part of some strange ritual. The leaders of the fraternity told him that the girls’ souls were being fed to the ‘Soul Eater,’ but George didn’t think they were serious.”
“Do you believe what George told you?”
She looked me hard in the eye. “My sister is missing.
About the Author:
Author and attorney Scott A. Lerner resides in Champaign, Illinois. He obtained his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and went on to obtain his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. He is currently a sole practitioner in Champaign, Illinois. The majority of his law practice focuses on the fields of criminal law and family law. Lerner’s first novel and the first Samuel Roberts Thriller, Cocaine Zombies, won a bronze medal in the mystery/cozy/noir category of the 2013 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Awards. The second book in the series is Ruler of Demons. The Fraternity of the Soul Eater is book 3. Book 4, The Wiccan Witch of the Midwest, will be released on Halloween, 2015.
You can find Scott online at: www.scottlerner.camelpress.com