Ralph Moon & Scott Doyle

(creator: D G Isch)

D G Isch
Ralph Moon had been a sergeant in the Marines "who stood about six feet four inches". As 12-year-old Scott puts it, "Boy, was he big, but real nice-looking, considering he was about four stories taller than I was." He had served with distinction in the South Pacific and it was while he was away that his wife and daughter had been tragically killed in a car crash. He then "spent a lot of time recuperating in bars and being a bouncer from time to time" before being converted by an evangelist who "helped him to come to know Jesus Christ as his Lord and savior".

He rejoined the Marines, and ended up in Korea for the next two years. He served in the military police and had won " a chest full of medals". He had been described by his former Marine commander as having "the instincts of a predator, the sixth sense of a clairvoyant, and the patience of Job. If it were not for his humility, he would be impossible to live with." At the start of this story, he feels that God is calling him "to be a cop or a preacher".

Scott Doyle is twelve years old at the start of the book but soon has his thirteenth birthday. He narrates part of the story, which is full of his admiration for the stalwart "Sarge" Moon. Like the author, he loves growing up in the Arizona desert. He has an older brother and a younger sister and a much loved German shepherd dog called Scout, whom he describes as his "best friend". His father works at an air force base as a civilian welder. It was there that he had met Sergeant Moon who had been Scout's trainer.

Scott turns out to have a remarkable photographic memory, with the aid of which he proves a real help to Moon and the local police when it comes to solving a murder mystery. Young though he is, he proves to have all the makings of a good detective. But he is rather less attactive when he starts preaching little sermons, as when he smugly explains to the enquiring (adult) Danielle that Jesus is like the characters played by Roy Rogers etc in that he started with a town in trouble, confronted the bad guys, was left for dead but reappeared to route the villains. "Scott," Moon congratulates him. "That was the most simple and yet complete description of the ministry of Jesus I think I've ever heard."

D G Isch (date of birth?) was born and raised in the Arizona desert. He became a Kung Fu teacher then head instructor of the American Kung Fu Association. He was also a businessman, a bodyguard, private investigator and undercover agent. After retiring to Albaquerqe, he rededicated his life to Christ, and, after ten years of street ministry and running successful drug and alcohol programs at local churches, turned to writing Christ-centered novels and poems. He now lives with his wife Diane and their two dogs in Silver City, New Mexico. He also wrote Archie and the Preacher.

Into the Desert (2008)
Into the Desert is set in the Arizona desert region in 1960. It starts with ex-Sergeant Moon not only teaching the boy Scott how to control his new dog Scout, but inviting him to Sunday school and church over his 13th birthday weekend. Scott falls asleep during the sermon, but then goes on to join a Vacation Bible School, where the teacher "seemed too tired and, well, worn out, until he started talking about Jesus. Then it was like he came to life with a special kind of feeling." He explained "about Jesus, and how he died for our sins and then came back from the dead just so we, if we believe in him, could never die, but have everlasting life with his Father, God." Scott is baptised and Moon is soon having long conversations with him about Jesus.

Meanwhile Moon is convinced that he has a calling to join the police, and it is not long before he has met the pretty bar-maid Danielle, and is soon setting about converting her too. Of course, "They both, with great restraint, agreed not to enter into any intimacy until marriage", even if she was "somewhat disappointed".
"You know the ground rules," Moon lectures her. "We have to wait!" And he gave the words "that serious tone, lest Danielle didn't take him seriously enough.
"Do you understand, Danielle?"
"Yes, my dear Ralph, I understand, and I agree. I kind of like the idea, to tell you the truth."

We are told that "Danielle Lacy was a bright, intelligent woman. having received a degree in Business from North Arizona Unibersity. She knew when to submit to proper leadership, and it was obvious to her that Detective Ralph Moon was in the lead."

Later on, thirteen-year-old Scott smugly instructs Danielle, "Pray, and ask Jesus to show you the truth .... Of course, you have to make a choice to do what you are shown. Jesus is a gentleman, and will never make you do anything you don't want to ..."
"But I don't know how to pray. Can you show me?"
"Sure. Do you want to pray now? 'Cause I think we should always pray about stuff when it comes up, not wait." He sounds a very precocious thirteen-year old.

It is Danielle's own father who gets accused of committing a murder - and, despite the obvious conflict of interest (that Moon points out), he is still put in charge of the murder investigation. Amazingly, he involves young Scott in his detective work (even teaching him how to use his gun), and finds the boy shows a quick understanding and is even able to spot things that Moon had missed.

The book starts with a few short chapters, followed by an incredibly long one (all the way from pages 24-260). This makes it quite difficult to read, especially as the flow is broken up by little doggerel maxims such as: "Morning is a gift of its own. With it come mysteries to be known", "Worry is a problem God never intended for man" and "Babies cry when distraught, Adolescents scream when caught, Adults just lie for aught."

And the author's prose style can get strangely convoluted as when he writes: "The sergeant understood that there were always going to be undesirable attitudes in this world. He had been around the world and fought wars all around the world for the freedom of expression and the right to say what one wishes to say. He just wished it wasn't with such insignificance born out of liquor and the need to find approval from one's peers."

Another example is when Danielle is wondering whether to turn to another policeman, Deputy Dunn, for help: "Another negative side to asking for Lawson Dunn's help was his return to looking at her as a possible love interest, and not giving up on his futile hope that he could one day make her his wife. These were the very things Danielle was hoping to not create for herself before the sergeant's return. The realisation that she had inadvertently once more fanned this flame in Deputy Dunn irked her." It all sounds rather clumsy.

It is a little confusing too how young Scott relates part of the story and an impersonal third person narrator keeps suddenly taking over from him. But Moon himself emerges as a very observant and capable detective, who, as he tells Danielle, is absolutely convinced that "When we commit our lives to God three things will happen: First, God will work in us. Second, God will work through us. Third, God will work for us." But he relies on lengthy and rather tedious interviews in his detective workl, and the attempted hard-sell of the Gospel message is doubtless well-meaning but none too persuasive. As a detective, we are told, "Moon never sympathized with felons. He only put them away". More love in action, and less talk about it, might have made him a more attractive character. As it is, the book lacks enough action/ excitement/humor to hold the reader's interest.

The author has his own simple homemade-looking website: Directions in Christ Ministries but there seem no other references to him on the web, other than adverts for his books.

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Into the Desert cover
This is described as "A Christian Detective Novel" and is one of those books that is printed to order.
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