Tuesday, November 7, 2017

The Desolate Garden by Daniel Kemp - Historical or Today's World???


Chapter One: Poison Ivy The first time I saw her was three days after I was told that my father had died. All the national newspapers had carried the story in their first editions; most describing him as a private banker, others as simply a financier. All had speculated as to why. The majority of the more respectful had suggested pressure, and stress in the current financial world. However, the most popular tabloids had repeated the accusation for which he had successfully sued them, that his money had come from unscrupulous and tyrannical rulers of various African countries. Only this time they glossed over some previously mentioned names, and added the word 'alleged.' They had not known that he had been murdered...
“Lord Paterson? I'm Detective Chief Superintendent Fletcher of the Special Branch. I've got some news for you about your father…may I come in?” 
It had been the previous Sunday, around about three in the afternoon, and I had just driven home from my local pub after spending all morning blasting crows out of the sky. I reeked of alcohol, sweat, and cordite. The twelve-bore 'Purdy' shotgun lay dismantled on the gun-room table, and the rest of my gear was scattered around the floor. He glanced at the gun. “Been busy, Sir?” He asked, in an official police tone. 
“Yes. One of my tenants keep sheep, and they're lambing. The crows pick out the lambs' eyes almost the minute they're born, nasty creatures, so I lend a hand killing as many we can. My license is in the estate office, if you want to see it? Incidentally I'm not a Lord, only a lowly Honourable.” I replied, without looking at him. 
“I never knew that about crows. As for the license, that won't be necessary.” He paused. “I'm afraid that your father was found shot in the head by the housekeeper at his home in Eton Square, London, at ten past one this morning; so, as I understand it, you are now a Lord,” he stated, in the standard perfunctory, manner that the police inform relatives of the unfortunate. “Can you think of anyone who may have wanted to kill him?” He enquired, without a change of tone to his voice or any pretense of remorse. 
The shame of it was that I could not. However, that did not imply that he had no enemies; only that I had been unable to discover them, and I should have. “Absolutely none. He was the last person I would have thought of to have had enemies. It might have been money they were after…he had plenty of that,” I declared, not trying to hide my indifference. 
“He was alone in the ground floor sitting room. There were signs of a forced entry Sir, and the housekeeper says that he was alone that night. He had no company.” 
His monosyllabic style of speaking was beginning to annoy me. “Was there anything missing?” I asked, knowing exactly what the housekeeper meant by company. 
“No, Sir, nothing that the housekeeper or his valet knows of. I was hoping you might be able to provide some information, throw some light on it. Has he been in touch with you lately?” He asked, fingering the bespoke carved stock. “Very lovely gun. Expensive, I expect,” he added. 
“Yes to the gun, and no regarding him being in touch,” I curtly replied. I had never had much time for the police and he was not changing my opinion...
“Look… he and I didn't get on. We haven't spoken to each other since he left before my mother died. I haven't spoken to him or seen him in almost two years and, quite frankly, I don't give a toss that he's dead. If that's all, Detective Chief Superintendent, I've got lot more important things to do than discuss the personal relationship the two of us had or didn't have.” 
My abruptness and directness had shocked him, or perhaps it was my inhospitality and his need of a drink that hastened his departure, I was not sure which. However, before he left what he considered to be an unfinished conversation, he summoned me to London the following Wednesday to meet with a Government Official. He did not name him, nor his office, but declared. “You will be met at the station, and we will expect your full cooperation in all of this, your Lordship. It is, as you will appreciate, a matter of great importance. I look forward to your collaboration at our next meeting.” Irascibly, he stressed the 'next', as I closed the door behind him. 
I had no qualms over the forthcoming journey to London, other than my complete distaste of that city and all who traversed its capricious streets. What did worry me though, was the question of who had shot my father? I could think of a reason why it had happened; but had no idea who could have done it!


The Desolate Garden

By Daniel Kemp

Given that each chapter carried a name that had something to do with gardening, I admit that in the back of my mind, I kept trying to figure out the association of the title and chapter headings to the book itself. While I was unable to immediately confirm why Garden became an important theme, I enjoyed learning how it evolved from one character in particular...

One of the first English words that Paulo learnt from the old man at the postal office in Leningrad was 'Garden.' At his tender age, everybody was old. Even his own mother was ancient, and as far as his father was concerned, the fact that he was nearing his fiftieth birthday was beyond his youthful comprehension. A colorful garden, however, was not. Yuri, a name he was to use himself later in his life, had been a gardener's apprentice on an estate in England before the Great War had started in Europe and he had begun Paulo's education by showing him pictures of how the huge kitchen garden looked, behind the walls that sheltered it and kept it warm. The young, aspiring, Paulo found a parallel between life and gardening, and he became more aware of the words that Yuri used to describe the art in which he had wanted to prosper, before the world erupted. 
The sun and the rain were important, of course, but so too was nourishment and care. Knowledge of where best to grow a particular plant and how to prune it, to keep its shape, or to maximise its production. “Have you ever seen a plot of land that's been left to its own and God's devices, Paulo? All overgrown, with the plants strangling each other?” he asked, then answered without delay, “Of course you have. They're all around you. That's what happens when nature has its own way, without us to supervise and manage it. 
The world would be in a sorry state without gardeners, that's for sure. 
Do you know what God's answer to pruning is? It's war and desolation; that's what it is. A messy way of doing things,” he sagely proclaimed. 
He had forgotten to add an important aspect of prolonging a flowering plant's life before it turned to seed; that of deadheading, allowing the production of more flowers to flourish. 
To the aging and skeptical, more pragmatic, Paulo, life was
equivalent to war. The strong must survive at the expense of the weak. He had adopted and followed this philosophy, except for on one occasion; when he failed to spot a shoot left to grow from the base of his rose bush, one that threatened to suck the life out of its host, the merciful Paulo himself...

...and set for a night of bliss, as my
undoubtably charms had obviously
seduced her, or so I thought!
"It was because I was ordered to
meet you, and you haven't
disappointed me. You're exactly
as your file reads. I can summarize
it in one word: chauvinistic.
Thought you'd scored, didn't
you? Shame...you couldn't be
further from the truth. I've got
to hold your hand all the way
through the debrief. I'm your
liaison officer, and I'm stuck
with you. How did your reunion
with our lord and master go?
Was Trimble wearing that
sarcastic smile of his?...
It was there in the discussion about working in a garden that I learned...

Do you know what God's answer to pruning is? It's war and desolation; that's what it is. A messy way of doing things,” he sagely proclaimed.

The Desolate Garden starts out as a murder mystery, but as you read, it becomes primarily an historical investigation that flashes back to activities in Great Britain and in Russia...

The Honorable Harry Paterson had just become Lord Paterson as a result of his father's death...murder, that is... Harry had not been close to his father, and the specific position of each child was automatically declared based upon their placement in birth. Harry was fortunate when a younger son had been born and he had not had the responsibility to take over the family bank, about which he'd been quite pleased!

But his father being murdered naturally placed him as a "major person of interest" because of his inheritance of being named "Lord."

But instead of being interviewed and returning to his home, a liaison officer had been named to stay with him through the entire investigation, perhaps for safety of the new Lord, but primarily to determine exactly what he might know about the murder.

I must say that I became fascinated with the interview process and imagined it must be similar to that now being done by Special Investigator Mueller, for certainly, tracking the money became a significant part of the discussions with the new Lord Paterson.

It was quite clear that Judith knew much more about Harry and his family than he does. On the other hand, Harry's father had contacted him before his death about secret transactions that he'd discovered at the family bank and asked for help in trying to learn more about them. What evolved is a long history of collusion, spying, financial payment for political reasons, as well as personal family secrets that went back three generations. 

The further I read, the more I was intrigued in discovering not only what and why things had happened as they did, but who was now committing murder, perhaps to hide some of those historical secrets...But, I have to share that nothing prepared me for the ending! Very Cool! I love being stumped by the author as he weaves his magic...

I'm not a fan of war, but, you know, this historical story provided me a better understanding of what is happening in today's world.  I knew there were things that the average national citizen didn't know about...but I realized after this novel, just how corrupt and ruthless politics and wars between and among nations can be. By the dialogue method between the two main characters used to follow past and present steps, readers feel as if they are right there, working within the investigation, discovering each detail, and able to see how and why each action took place... Clearly the author's past profession has allowed him to transfer his experience into edgy stories!

The conclusion was quite satisfactory, but I did wonder what the future held in store for Harry, the son who lost not only his father, but his younger brother, who was also murdered, and was, for quite some time in danger of losing his own life. The book is slow-moving, meticulous in detail, while suspenseful and complex enough to pull readers into the story more and more. A sub-plot where new members of Harry's family were identified at the same time he was losing those from his immediate family gave a softening effect to the overall horror that had happened through the years.  If my comments sound interesting...do check it out...it's highly recommended.


Daniel Kemp, ex-London police officer, mini-cab business owner, pub tenant and licensed London taxi driver never planned to be a writer, but after his first novel —The Desolate Garden — was under a paid option to become a $30 million film for five years until distribution became an insurmountable problem for the production company what else could he do?

Nowadays he is a prolific storyteller, and although it’s true to say that he mainly concentrates on what he knows most about; murders laced by the intrigue involving spies, his diverse experience of life shows in the short stories he compiles both for adults and children.

He is the recipient of rave reviews from a prestigious Manhattan publication, been described as —the new Graham Green — by a managerial employee of Waterstones Books, for whom he did a countrywide tour of signing events, and he has appeared on ‘live' television.

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