Ray Koepp

(creator: C J Koehler)

Mindc Games cover
Detective Sergeant Ray Koepp was aged 37 and had been a cop for six years, but, much to his disappointment, had failed to solve some previous homicide cases that he had worked on since leaving vice. He had previously been a priest for six years ("a parish associate pastor") but had had to leave after making love to the already married Diane who "had transformed guilt from theological abstraction into personal pain" and had been the one to end the affair. He felt he had been a failure.

What he was good at, he knew, was ferreting out a killer's motivation as this "required logic and an understanding of human nature, skills in which he felt he excelled". One of these skills was "in discerning untruths, which had served him badly when he was a priest, (but) was invaluable in his role as detective". Another "insight that he had discovered while he was a priest (was) that he could get women to do things for him, and he used it ruthlessly, the benefits outweighed the associated guilt".

He has a "long, homely face" and "light, nondescript eyes .... In repose, his features suggested amused perplexity. He almost never blinked." He "appeared to be too esthetic for a policeman," and "had a quality of disingenousness". He was "the kind of man whom women felt compelled to mother" but persevered until "he found his answers in interminable bouts of interviewing witnesses and suspects".

C J Koehler began his career in journallsm and public relations before turning to writing novels of which he published only two, the last of them in 1996. He lives in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where he is (I think) director of public relations for Mercury Marine. And that is all I could find out about him. If you can provide me with more information (and/or a photo) please get in touch via my guestbook.

Profile (1994)
Profile sees psychiatrist Dr Lisa Robbins being stalked by her own patient, disturbed Philip Schroeder, who starts following her around between appointments. She realises that the profile of a killer, who has been mutilating and murdering a series of professional women, fits that of her patient. Detective Sergeant Ray Koepp pressurises her to disclose her patient's identity but Lisa feels that she is bound by doctor-client privilege. But when Schroeder's van is spotted at the murder scene, Koepp and his police partner Margaret Loftus discover that Lisa's own unfaithful husband may also have an involvement, and both Lisa and her husband end up as possible suspects.

This makes quite a strong story, although Ray's past as a priest (when he had "practiced .... ambivalence in theological matters") does not seem to influence him in any way, even if he still has a "long, sad, monastic face", and, according to Margaret, "the soul of a monk". He was "logical and methodical" and Margaret said that "his ecclesiastical background had made him a natural bureacrat". But it doesn't seem to offer him any inspiration or support. It is only the disturbed Philip who feels that he had received "Divine Inspiration. God had spoken to him in his dreams ...."

The psychiatry background seems well handled. As Lisa reminded herself, "The patient's insights are gold, the therapist's are dross." When Ray Koepp asks Lisa about "the kind of behaviour that might lead to serial killing", she explains, "A history of mistreatment of women or fantasies about assaulting women.Violence against animals. A fetish, like destroying women's clothes. Potential serial killers might have some kind of religious obsession - think God is speaking to them, for example." But she won't identify Philip even though she realises how well he fits the bill. Meanwhile she has to face up to the unpleasant fact that, "It was pathetic that someone who spent her days guiding people to better marital relationships could do nothing about her own."

There are convincingly detailed descriptions of such routine matters as DNA testing but Ray Koepp himself does not come across as a very real or sympathetic person. He and Margaret "had come to an agreement almost two years before that their exceptional compatability in their police work would be jeopardized if they developed a romantic attachment for each other". It makes him seem a very cold fish.

Mind Games (1996)
Mind Games describes how Sergeant Ray
Koepp and his partner Margaret Loftus investigate the murder of the thoroughly unpleasant Dr Isaac Steiner, a prominent man in academic circles who is described at different times both as psychologist and psychiatrist. He was one of the founders of a sociology research project in community living called Friars Close. It is in this idyllic housing community that he has been stabbed to death. When the pair begin their interrogations, they face a host of dissimulators, and have to slowly peel away fact from fiction as they search for motivation and a murderer.

It is hard going, for as Margaret complains, “People don't volunteer anything. They seem to co-operate, but it is like they're circling the wagons to protect the group". And Ray's growing obsession with Karen Merrick, the married business manager to the community and one of the leading suspects, complicates the task. "She knows," he becomes sure, "She knows who killed him." Perhaps Ray would be better off with Margaret who at least doesn't “play mind games with other people".

Ray himself is not a very convincing ex-priest, as he never seems to have had any real religious feelings. The strength of the story is in its descriptions of investigators at work, but it is difficult to feel any close involvement as it is a slowly unfolding plot with little dramatic action. Ray is a tough and determined questioner, but not always a totally sympathetic character. He is quite prepared to lie, break all the regulations and even shoot someone if necessary. You can see why he never made it as priest.

It is quite unconvicing how he happily uses illegal means of spying on Karen and her blackmailer companion when they are hidden away on an island, and even buys a toy inflateable to row his way across to them. No wonder that he couldn't help thinking about “the absurdity of his position". He emerges as more of a coldly calculating if disturbed detective than a warm human being.

A much more real character is the mountainous DA, Wagner, who “had made his presence felt throughout the restaurant, a condition he now amplified by moving his huge bulk between the tables of diners. Even though no one had to get out of his way, other men seemed to recede as he approached; he diminished everything around him. He caught the waitress's eye, which took no effort at all, and pointed a huge finger at a table in the corner which had been vacated recently. The pointing finger looked like a banana to Koepp." He might, I cannot help feel, have made a more interesting, and certainly more entertaining, lead character than poor Ray.

There is hardly anything about the author on the web.

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