Cuchulainn (Cuch)

(creator: William Gardiner Hutson)


Cuchulainn cover
Cuchulainn (known as Cuch) Patrick Gray was so named because his father had been born in Ulster and hoped that by giving him the name of Cuchulainn "I would surely grow up to be a good Protestant or possibly druidic." In fact, he had become a Roman Catholic seminarian at St Peter's Seminary in Searsville, California. Before then, after "four years of monotonous secondary school in Eureka, I attended Humboldt State University for two years majoring in forestry." Meanwhile his father had become chief of police in Eureka, so "I tagged along as a reserve officer where I found police work to be mostly routine and un-rewarding for me at that time." When his father began to drink excessively he felt he had to escape that environment so spoken to a kindly local priest about studying for the priesthood.

He has a "six-foot athletic frame" but that is about all we are told about him.

William Gardiner Hutson (1928 - ) was born in Hollywood. He became a graduate of the University of Southern California, a sociology and criminology major. For 14 years he was an instructor at Citrus Community College Extended Day program, teaching sociology classes and initiating a course in criminology. After serving as an investigator for state and federal courts he retired, as a probation officer, with his family in Rancho Cucamonga. As well as his only crime novel reviewed below, he is also author of two other novels. He lives with his wife in Rancho Cucamonga, California. They have four daughters.

Cuchulainn of Eureka and the Death of a Deacon (2003)
Cuchulainn of Eureka and the Death of a Deacon describes how in 1906 Cuchulainn Gray, nicknamed Cuch, a theology student, finds
the corpse of his friend Bernard, a newly ordained deacon, apparently bludgeoned to death, and notices the possible murder weapon: a potato masher with strange zig zag markings that ultimately suggest that the murder may have been the work of a Yuman Indian. The seminary authorities want, above all else, to avoid a scandal so arrange a cover-up, with the aid of local police, so that the death is treated as accidental. Cuch is told by his rector to say nothing about what has happened. His reaction is to say, "Excuse me for a moment Father" and "he walked back up the path ... lifted up his cassock, opened his fly, held his penis and said, "Piss on him." He does not really seem the ideal seminarian.

The San Francisco earthquake brings temporary closure to the seminary giving Cuch time to search for his friend's killer. The victim's mother invites him to stay at her family home in Redlands. Cuch convinces her that her son's death had been no accident. Barbara, the victim's sister, wants to join Cuch in his mission and so they set off together and make the family farmhouse in the Imperial Valley their base of operations. Eventually they identify the killer - but who had paid him to do the dirty work? Meanwhile Cuch makes (explicitly described) love to Barbara for "while massaging her back he felt strong, gonadic twitches."

Some of the other sexual descriptions seem gratuitous as when we are told that when the chief of police arrived on the scene he was accompanied by a nurse Ethyl to whom he apologised, "Honey, I'm sorry our smooching was interrupted. I was ready to cum in you when the phone rang. My prick is so stiff I can hardly walk." He "moved his hands to his crotch, unbuttoned his fly as nurse Ethyl knelt, pulled out his engorged penis, pushed it into her mouth" and so on. And that's all we ever hear of nurse Ethyl.

There's also an odd sequence in which Cuch has to sit naked and describe his sexual (and other) dreams to an Indian "man of the Spirit" before the identity of the murderous man will be revealed to him.

It's a potentially interesting, if unlikely story, as when Cuch found himself "being offered a lucrative position as a pimp for a madam from Tonopah", but unfortunately the author is totally unable to write convincing dialogue as when Barbara tells Cuch, "You and Bernard, despite differing backgrounds must have bonded in the friendship which transcended your goals of the priesthood." When Cuch questions Barbara's fiance, he is told, "I do recall during our breakfast coffee he (Bernard) casually mentioned being somewhat vexed by letters he received; something to do with his inheritance, but he quickly dropped the subject. That's the gist of my recollections. Tell me Cuch, how do you theorize this crime was perpetrated?" Then when Bernard's ex-girlfriend describes their passionate lovemaking, she says, "For two nights we did not exhaust our desire to consummate our intimacy." Cuch tells her, "Miss San-Chez, we thank you sincerely for your candor in sharing these intimate details of your life with a couple of strangers. I trust Barbara agrees with me that the fulfillment of the time together you two shared, your child, somewhat assuages the pain of loss you must feel." But people just don't talk like this. Except in this book. (See the author's own comment about this.)

The ending is a happy one for Cuch who suddenly shows a talent for uncoupling train carriages so undoing the villains' nefarious plans. But unfortunately, despite the author's knowledge of criminology, the characters do not really come to life.



There is hardly anything about the author on the web.



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The home-made looking cover, with lettering lost in the background, tells all.
I'd welcome a photo of the author.
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