Brother Timon

(creator: Phillip DePoy)

Phillip DePoy
Brother Timon was an ex-Inquisition victim who had been freed from his cell by the Pope himself who had heard of his prodigious memory and wished to make him his agent. It was then that he had been given the name, Brother Timon. That was 5 years ago. Now his age was over 50, he was 6ft tall, and his eyes were “the colour of young green leaves, the curled hair was black and grey, tousled wildly about his head. His features seemed carved more than grown". At first he seems to be no more than a violent and formidable killer - but, as the story unfolds, we find there is much more to him than that.

Phillip DePoy is the award-winning author of 10 novels, including a series of mystery novels featuring Flap Tucker, 2 published plays, and numerous other pieces for the theatre. He served as Artistic Director for Atlanta's Theatrical Outfit and has been directing and composing music for twenty-five years. He is currently director of theatre for Clayton State University. He lives in Decatur, Georgia.

The King James Conspiracy (2009)
The King James Conspiracy is set at the time when a new translation of the Bible had been ordered by King James I. It was 1605. In Cambridge first one of the translators, then others, are savagely murdered. Deacon Marbury, charged with protecting the group, seeks outside help to find the murderer. But the people who offer to help are not who they claim to be, and the man they send to Marbury - Brother Timon - has a secret past and blood on his hands. He is the agent of forces that hope to halt the translation itself. The killer continues his gruesome work; the body count rises. Brother Timon is torn between conflicting loyalties as some of the basic beliefs of Christianity are, it is thought, being threatened.

It makes a dramatic and engrossing story, told with considerable theatrical flair. Something surprising seems to happen every few pages. The period background is well drawn too, even if the idea that the whole church will collapse just because secret papers reveal facts such as Jesus' real name was Joshua, seems distinctly improbable. In fact, of course, it is now generally accepted that this was the Hebrew version of His name - and the church is still there! The other secret texts (now known as the Gnostic Gospels), did not really prove to be so earthshattering either, which rather weakens the central premise of the plot. Perhaps the author had been reading too much Dan Brown.

As the author explains in a historical data section at the end of the book, he often uses the real names of historical characters and real events around which to weave his fiction - and the picture of the witch-obsessed King James I certainly has some truth behind it. Brother Timon is the only wholly fictional character, but even he is, "in part, based on the historical figure of Giordano Bruno (1548-1600)" whose “expertise in the art of memory brought him to the attention of patrons, and he travelled to Rome to demonstrate his abilities to the Pope. He invented a new memory system .... using circular memory wheels. He was able to memorise thousands of pages of text with perfect accuracy." And it it is this same skill that makes Brother Timon such a useful servant of the Pope. The author is, of course, understandably vague about the precise way in which the remarkable memory wheels operate, but with their aid it seems that Timon could conveniently remember the entire translation!

Brother Timon becomes an increasingly interesting character as the plot develops, and he finds himself under increasing pressure to rethink the standards by which he has been living. it is possible, he thinks, “that the Holy Spirit is making Itself known, even now." Other lively characters include Deacon Marbury's distinctly feminist daughter Anne, who does not at all fancy the idea of Timon as her tutor, and the whole team of squabbling translators, all full of their own self-importance.

It makes a violent story with knives flying all over the place and people being stabbed left, right and centre, and the author shows no hesitation in killing off even quite sympathetic characters such as the boy Thom. And by the end even Deacon Marbury admits to Tim that “I cannot bear the number of dead we have accumulated here". But it is not violence just for the sake of violence and the book certainly holds the interest throughout.

The author has his own website, and there is also a quite lengthy video of him lecturing,followed by a question and answer session. There is also an interesting interview with him on the Talking with Tim site (if you can cope with the appalling purple background).

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The King James Conspiracy cover
The paperback cover is quite striking.
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