Judith’s review of The First Rule of Ten by Gay Hendricks & Tinker Lindsay.
“Don’t ignore intuitive tickles lest they reappear as sledgehammers.” That’s the first rule of Ten.
Tenzing Norbu (“Ten” for short)-ex-monk and soon-to-be ex-cop-is a protagonist unique to our times. In The First Rule of Ten, the first installment in a three-book detective series, we meet this spiritual warrior who is singularly equipped, if not occasionally ill-equipped, as he takes on his first case as a private investigator in Los Angeles.
He has risen in the ranks of the LAPD from basic rookie cop to a Detective, Grade II, but he is well and truly tired of it all. His supervisor has F-5 level emotional tornadoes regularly and his partner is beginning to back away from his own enthusiasm for the job, especially now that he has twin daughters and he’s thinking more about keeping his personal safety. Tenzing Norbu is really ready for a change–the kind that may lead him in a different direction while using all he has learned as one of LA’s finest. He is a man who is well and truly thankful for where he is, emotionally and geographically, but he is not nearly as far away from his religious roots as one would think, considering his occupation. Yet Ten is a man who thinks deeply and meditates regularly, keeping his mind and heart channeled toward the immediate and in touch with his place in the world, his mental link with his best friends, and with the aspects of his faith that keep him grounded.
Here is a suspense/murder mystery/detective tale that has all the expected ingredients of a good mystery but the persona of the main character brings lots into the telling of the story (first person narrative) and the way in which this particular man ponders and puzzles over the bits and pieces that make up his cache of clues. He is open to and quite willing to engage in a love affair with a beautiful woman, but he is not nearly as open to intimacy and togetherness as one would think, still struggling with his feelings and early wounds at the hands of parents who were as far removed as East is from West and whose input in his life constitute a rather hefty load of confusion. Yet his years of growing up in a Buddhist monastery have not all be for nought, as he is far more sensitive to the people he encounters and to the world around him. This is a story that brings some significant spirituality into play and because of that, there is not that cynical edge most readers are prepared to encounter in their mystery detective heroes of the past.
OK, so I am one of those fans of great mystery writers–Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Fleming, Earle Stanley Gardner, just to name a few. But I have to say that this book blew me out of the water. It’s fascinating and riveting in its flow through the story, the first person narrative not irritating me nearly as much as it usually does. (I really don’t like seeing the story through one person’s eyes only.) The spirituality of Ten fascinates me as he deals with his emotions, with the puzzling aspects of his cases, with his responses to his cat and his partner and even to his short-lived affair with beautiful Julie. I chuckled often at his apparent lack of knowledge of some of the cultural stuff–well-known rock stars, books, or nursery rhymes–but his deep knowledge of classical literature. His inner monologues were different somehow–directed toward keeping his mind free of the clogging miasma of anger or resentment (not always successful) as well as seeking to be honest as much as possible when doing his best to gain information from those unwilling to share. His response to Bill’s twin girls was so typical “bachelor” that it just really touched my funny bone, yet his deep grieving over Barbara’s death–a woman whose presence in his life amounted to almost nothing, yet he took the time to surround her with compassion and caring, even after death. Ten is such a mix of positives and negatives that he will continue to fascinate me through several more books–I look forward to the rest of the books in this series.
This is one fabulous book. Not a whole lot of romance but enough that I was satisfied and with everything else that drew me in, I am so glad I read it. The credentials of the writers are certainly indicative of their ability to write about Ten’s spirituality with insight. But their background in dealing with people also shows up in the way they craft the other characters in the story. There are enough surprises in the development of the story line that a reader will most definitely not be bored. I don’t know how many times I commented to myself during the reading, “This is a wonderful book.” I just can’t say much more, and I hope that those who love mystery with a different slant will get this book and enjoy it as much as I did. It’s a book that is already on my “favorites” list and one I will re-read in the future–too much here to apprehend it all the first time around.
I give it a rating of 5 out of 5 and wish I could give it more.
This book is available from Hay House Visions. You can buy it here