(creator: Wiliam G Jennings)
|Chase(man) Fleet lives "a few years in the future" in a world where personal air hoppers and telekinetic travel between the planets have become commonplace. For seven years he had been first a cop then a homicide detective in the Los Angeles Police Department (from which he was currently suspended), and when we first meet him was "fast approaching his late twenties". He was used to looking after himself for, when he had been approaching 15, his father had been reported missing in action in the "Elggog War" and his mother too had disappeared without trace after setting off to find her husband.
He has just broken up with his girlfriend Shane (also a LAPD homicide detective) who could not accept his recent religious conversion: "Where he saw this emergence of his spiritual nature as a critical improvement in his life, Shane saw it as something else, something almost sinister." He still hoped that what had "become obvious to him (would) also become obvious to her, that the Creator of the universe was the God of the Bible and that Jesus Christ was His Son sent to die for the sins of man," but she just sees it as a block between them. As his sister pointed out to him, "Shane interpreted your interest in the Church as a rival for her affections."
William G Jennings describes himself as "an Army brat born in France who now lives and writes in Texas. His literary influences are Robert Heinlein and Ian Fleming." He attended Copperas Cove High School and is now "Expeditor and Apollo Guide" (whatever that means) at Salado, Texas. I would welcome more information about him, via my Guestbook.
The Sisters of Jezebel (2011)
The Sisters of Jezebel describes how, against the backdrop of struggling with how to integrate his new-found Christian faith into his life, and the pain and confusion of a shattered romance, Detective Chase Fleet finds himself caught up in a radical feminist plot to fundamentally alter the religious make-up of the Universe. Fleet weaves together a series of seemingly unrelated events (murder and arson at a museum, an innocent church member caught up in a smuggling ring, the mysterious death of every member of a small, all-male cult in Montana) to expose the plot of a group of radical feminists seeking to replace all other religions with one worshiping a 'Goddess Supreme'.
It makes a violent if sometimes confusing story as it takes some time for the reader to realise that it is all set in the future, particularly as the future seems very much like the present but with the addition of personal airhoppers, interplanetary kinetic travel amongst the United Planets (the discovery of the Laws of "Pyschic Phenomonon" (sic) had, we are told, been inspired by Acts, chapter 8, when Philip is "caught up in the spirit and disappears from sight" but is now strictly controlled by bureaucratic rules and procedures) and of the Church of Human Progression, a Protestant, evangelical church that aims to bring science and faith together, to which Fleet now belongs and which sounds very much like American old-style fundamentalism still going strong. Fleet himself still spends much time thinking about Shane, the woman who had deserted him because of his conversion, but had a feeling that "God had to have more important things regard to worry about than his broken heart".
The plot is full of dramatic action sequences (as when Fleet joins in a violent police assault and gets shot in the process) and characters like the scheming Bishop Didier with his prophetic visions (that he secretly "recorded on tape, dated and time-stamped, and kept .... hidden away to keep others from making them self-fulfilling") and his extensive network of informers (complete with fully equipped Snoop Central where every "mention of Christianity in general, and the Church of Human Progression in particular" is carefully monitored) help to bring the not very convincing story to life. It is the Bishop who appoints Fleet to be United Planets' sanctioned criminal investigator. "Why, Fleet had no idea. He was happy with the LAPD and looking forward to a long, successful career. Those anti-religious groups baying for his regular resignation were a nuisance and a joke as far as he was concerned. Their insistence that belief in a Supreme Being in the nature of a personal, involved God was a sign of mental illness that should disqualify believers from activities involving public safety was easy to ignore."
Fleet is always reluctant to accept outside help, being what his bishop called a RC, Rational Convert, meaning one who'd logically worked out that "intelligent life could arise only through supernatural intervention, and the most plausible candidate for that 'interventor' was the God of the Bible." But "this left out emotion, which the Bishop believed was also a crucial companion component for faith." However he had "high hopes for Chase Fleet. His pre-conversion notoriety, combined with his implacable detective's nature, would make him an invaluable apologetic tool" who could help other people who "faced the same struggle between balancing reliance on self with reliance on God."
After Fleet gets knocked out (something that frequently happens to him in these books), he finds himself the prisoner of the wicked Charlotte who delights in telling him that he was "very close to meeting your Maker." She "grinned, a bit evil, but a bit alluring, too. She had that unquestionable beauty of a woman at the height of confidence and happiness." She tells him, "I don't indulge in that bit of theatrical nonsense where the evil mastermind makes the mistake of telling the incapacitated hero of the Ingenious Plot so the hero can foil it when he escapes." A nice touch, that! Another in-joke occurs later on when a colleague tells him that he can "dictate an instant bestseller on how you cracked the Sisters of Jezebel case, available on Smashwords by the end of the week."
Right at the end, Fleet asks Charlotte, "Have you tried accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?"
The Eyes of Christ (2011)
Meanwhile his older brother, Rory, is leading Task Force Slurp in a search for a mysterious substance that seems to be cleaning an area of Israel (the whole country had been destroyed by a 'humane" atomic bomb 13 years before) of all traces of radiation. It turns out to emanate from "the Eyes of Christ" (a cross embedded with pieces from a simple jar that had been found in Christ's tomb) that was discovered in the coffin of the son of Joseph of Arimathia! There were three such crosses, and Fleet sets about tracking down the other two.
Along the way he meets a beautiful poker playing actress, a woman with a mysterious tattoo, a rich Texas energy executive, a retired Jewish citrus farmer: all who might or might not be what they appear to be (plus a gorgeous Israeli hitwoman who is exactly what she appears to be), all culminating when he has to access a whole series of cages with poisonous creatures inside them. For Turner Ashby is determined to prove "that not only does your God not come to your aid when you need it, but that He does not exist at all. If this game ends in your death, well, we can accept that, too. But what we would most like to do, Detective, is to destroy not you, but your faith." It was a good thing that Fleet was wearing his special boots containing such items as a multipurpose folding survival knife and a length of wire!
When Fleet's whole life depended on finding a secret combination to open a lock, a text came "popping into his mind" that he immediately identified as "a snippet from first Corinthians, chapter 1, verse 19 .... Was that the combination? One-One-One-Nine?" No, it wasn't, but he knew that "the answer to every problem is in the Bible," and in a vision he saw three sets of sixes, and, knowing that "only one passage in the Bible contains a number of the beast: 666 .... he dialed the numbers: one, three, one, eight" and " the lock snapped open with a gentle tug." It's a pity he then got shot - but, of course, he survived.
It is all a load of nonsense so it is hard to take seriously Fleet's frequent reliance on Biblical texts to do everything from helping him to to win at cards (so that he ends up owning thirty million dollars and 49% of the casino!) to surviving the frequent attempts on his life.There is certainly plenty of action, but it all seems increasingly to resemble an action comic with Biblical bits and professions of faith tacked on. This is not what the author intended, as he seems to take Fleet quite seriously, describing him as his alter ego.
We are promised many further adventures - but, after you have read the first of them, the originality wears off, and the need for drastic pruning becomes more and more apparent.
|The Chase Fleet Adventures are available via Smashwords in different ebook formats at little or no cost.|