Monday, May 19, 2014

Looking Glass Killer by Floyd Merrell More Inclined Toward Teaching Than Murder!

Drealorless grue coms retuously impest.

,,,What a vicious brain twister," Mike says.
"Yes, it is. Like going through Lewis Carroll's looking glass."
"What do you mean?"
"Their grue suggests change in the way we see things, conceive them, and talk about them. Our green suggests change in the way they see, think, and talk. You see? Their color scheme and our color scheme are mirror-images if you look at them from above, that is, from an extra dimension...
"Whew! I'm not sure I follow you, but I have a feeling you might have hit the nail on the head. What does it all mean then?"
"That's the sixty-four-dollar question, my man. My first reaction is that this riddle might revolve around the idea of change of language and perspective. Which means the murdering predator's MO will be as unstable as can be...

Looking Glass Killer

By Floyd Merrell

The title of this book is certainly intriguing, isn't it? Have you ever traveled through the looking glass? I haven't...and after reading this book, I hope I never have to... Most of you may have come to realize that I'm a literal reader. If the novel says there is a serial killer, then I believe it as the premise upon which I start reading, hoping to perhaps identify the criminal before the book declares who it is...

Let me ask you a question before I go on with that thought... Have you, in your schooling, moved on and taken classes into higher mathematics? geometry especially? If not, you may need to prepare to be lost within mathematical jargon for a great part of the book... Now, this killer who is brilliantly intent on maintaining secrecy, while still taunting the police who are charged with the case... has everybody bamboozled... If you have no basic knowledge of higher mathematics, his show of intelligent playacting will be lost on the majority of you--and that included me... I hung in there, though, and tried to use narrative and followup of the many puzzles, riddles, etc., that came forward for use by the police... I hadn't a clue so adjusted my reading to my own lack of knowledge. If you can't do that, I recommend you pass on this book, because you will quickly be frustrated, with no place to turn to...

Remember that this is just another case for Lucia and Mike, her new partner. So they begin their usual and routine investigations on site, interviews, autopsy and forensics activities. Unfortunately, nothing is found at the first murder...

Or the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth...

One of the clues sent had been a blank key...???

What was that all about?!

"I'll be damned," she says, "A key. And a blank one at that."
"Blank," That's odd," Mike remarks.
"Yes, blank. Which means it can be cut in one of an indeterminate number of ways to open an indeterminate number of locks...They look around for a few minutes, then leave the crime scene. Silently, deep in thought. Lucia somewhat reluctantly offers  her estimation of what they're up against.
"The killer is extremely confident. He seem
s to go about his crime as if checking off a shopping list in the supermarket. Methodically and orderly...No nonsense. Straight-forward and linear. Like a set of cause and effect sequences....

As they continued brainstorming, they began to talk about playacting, whether or not the individual was really a psychopath or, like other actors, was playing the part of a psychopath. From there, Lucia, who had been academically trained and almost made a career in geometry began to think back to some of what she learned at that time and whether this individual was actually using mathematics in planning his actions... Was some type of Doublespeak being used to deliberately disguise what was said in anything that had been left at the scenes?

"Lucia," Mike says the next morning back at the office, "I'm still wondering about your so glibly calling the killer a psychopath."
"I've been wondering about that too. In the note he left us, he used that presumed nonswensical Chomskyan phrase garbled up with portmanteau thetoric for some purpose. Like a riddle for us to solve. He's playing with us, manipulating us. Just like a psychopath. But I sense some sort of ulterior motive unbecoming of the stock-in-trade psychopath...And, by the way, don't call him the killer. From this moment forward, he's X-Man,,,X-Man. An unknown variable X. And a man, I presume, as a nonconstant constant...X-Man the exaggerocious.
"Come again?"
"You know, a portmanteau word, X-man the exaggeratedly atrocious, vicious, hideous,  monstrous. We might as well qualify him by using his own twisted language...

It was becoming clear that the X-Man was talking directly to Lucia... with riddles that could be taken in one way, even though they know it meant something entirely different:

What force and strength cannot get through, I, with gentle touch and insertion can do; and many in the street would not in anguish stand; if I were not there as a stalwart friend in hand; what am I?

At the same time, it seemed that much of their investigation activities were getting shared outside of the police, especially with the media. She and Mike even checked her home for bugs

Triangles started her thinking in a more logical fashion. Using just a sketch of one, she matched it with the details of the first two crimes...distance, time of attack and days between attacks... Using the first three, she began to formulate when the four murder could take place and where...

Soon Lucia was comparing X-Man to brilliant Mathematicians such as Kurt Godel and more and more Lucia was spending time refreshing her earlier studies in these important fields.

This case was like no other they'd ever had and each and every day, they had to think and learn and rethink outside the box, in addition to sharing their findings with other professionals to gain different perspectives.

In fact, it is with the help of Lucia's uncle that they begin to finalize their concept and planning...

I have mixed feelings about this novel. If you would want to solve the capture of a serial killer, entirely through the use of your intellect and ability to solve riddles and other linguist presentations, then you may be fascinated with this book.

I Am Not a Serial Killer
I Am Not a Serial Killer

The author does provide one knowledgeable character and another who does not have the math background but can solve the riddles and other word games...Still, I felt that this author of 32 academic books as a retired university professor may have created his 33rd... Having the entire book, essentially, including nothing but academic principles, bringing in more and more experts and principles to be considered, provided nothing to the police upon which to capture the killer. Even when the lead officer went to the place she had determined to be the site of the next killing, she had no idea who the guilty party was going to be. It reminded me of Numbers, the TV program where one brother helps his cop brother solve cases, using his expertise. But there is a distinct difference. In that program, his brother's mathematical skills complemented the police work that was and still had to be done. For, without the police action, the intellectual stimulation provided does little to close the case and entertain the readers who expected something quite different.

Too much time--days, weeks went by without using many of the standard interview procedures and too much emphasis was placed on the use of "Numbers" {generic term to cover the academic activities explored] I enjoyed the TV show; with this I felt I was back in class... If the author can merge his expertise into those more human characteristics, and allow the reader to get into the thinking of the killer, I think he, too, would find that "Numbers" could be used to explore both police procedures as well as in intellectual premises upon which crimes may be solved. To prove my point, when we met the serial killer at the end, I could not remember who he was and had to go back into the book to find him!

On the other hand, by the time I was into the book about half-way, I was beginning to follow the logic and the book is very well written... All we need to do is see that the author spends some time reading lots of other fiction crime books and look to merge his background into a satisfactory novel...Legal and medical professionals are doing this all the time and Numbers was a successful TV, Professor Merrell, I look forward to seeing where you go in future novels...


     Retired college prof, Purdue University (1973-2011). Wrote too many professional books in mind-numbing 'academese.' Now would like to think he's writing fiction and nonfiction about identity crises, border issues, ethnic interrelations, and mental glitches of multiple sorts. Now floundering in whirlpooling word cascades wildly sweeping him along. Yet this year managed to publish FINDING HIMSELF and THE AFRO-BRAZILIAN ART OF COPING. LOOKING GLASS KILLER, latest novel, is now out!
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