Mrs Baul

(creator: Lynne E Chandler)

Mrs Baul was the wife of an American Episcopal clergyman but was convinced (and delighted) that her husband was a secret agent. The only trouble was that in real life he was only the inoffensive priest at an international church based at Cairo in Egypt, with a mania for pigeon racing.

She had grown up in the Ituri Forest of central Africa with parents who were anthropologists where "her friends, many of whom were Bantu pygmies, had taught her the patient skills of tracking for information." So she fancied herself as a detective and was determined to do all she could to help her much loved husband. She saw herself as "perhaps a cross between Mother Teresa and 007. Not that fame was important to her. Making a contribution to the world; that was her slogan and she drummed the theme into the growing minds and hearts of her two young children", Miriam and Joseph, two teenagers, both of whom were involved in the church and were close allies of Grandpa Baul.

She is happy to take the fingerprints of a possible suspect, even if she unfortunately confuses which of the small glass Arab teacups actually belonged to him. And, as Grandpa Baul discovers from reading her private journal, she is convinced that the same suspect "is leading a terrorist cell in which donkeys play a critical role" and weapons of mass destruction are also involved. And so she hires two camels and sets off across the desert in pursuit of the supposedly kidnapped Bishop, and when there is no one else present, happily goes on chatting to herself - or to her camel! And so Grandpa can hear what she is up to via the hidden listening device.

We are not even told her Christian name - and we are given no description of what she looks like. The only things that are made clear are that she is well known for her charity work, and verges on the dotty, although in a loving and caring sort of way.

Lynne E Chandler (1967 - ) was born in Senegal, West Africa and spent her childhood years in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the United States. She studied cultural anthropology at university, then, after marrying an American Episcopal priest, and much moving around the world, she served as the music director in the Anglican/Episcopal international church in Cairo in Egypt where her husband was Rector. She self-published several books about her spiritual experiences there. Mrs. Baul Investigates Bishop Kidnapped in Egypt (reviewed below) was her first novel, also self-published on kindle. After 10 years in Cairo, she moved back to the United States with her husband and two children.

Mrs Baul Investigates Bishop Kidnapped in Egypt (2012)
Mrs Baul Investigates Bishop Kidnapped in Egypt describes how, when Rev. Baul took charge of the international Episcopal church in Cairo in Egypt (a position held in real life by the author's husband), his slightly dotty paranoid wife Mrs Baul, becomes convinced that this assignment is proof that her gifted husband is working as a secret agent. Quite oblivious to her meddling, Rev. Baul's main concern seems to be with his hobby of pigeon-racing. Behind the scenes, their two technologically savvy children are in league with their electronic-gadget inventing Grandpa Baul, who plants a professional listening device on Mrs Baul as she investigates a Donkey Rescue charity and a kidnapped bishop, whose trail leads the entire Baul family to a pigeon race in the remote desert oasis of Siwa.

It may be an absurd story, but it is also highly original and inventive and marked by a real feeling of affection for the Egyptian background. The sheer awkwardness of the title, however, is matched by the stilted way in which the characters talk, saying things like, "My visit to the small tourist information centrer this afternoon was useless. I would actually appreciate any help you can give me on that front, dad. You always seem resourceful in uncertain circumstances." Colloquial speech is not the author's strong point, but for sheer oddity the book would take some beating. And it makes an entertaining read.

The author has her own website

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The cover is as eccentric as the content.
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