Monday, September 16, 2013

"O Romeo, Romeo, Who Art Thou Earl Merkel?"

My ears have not yet drunk a hundred words.
 Of that tongue's uttering, yet I know the sound.  
Art thou not Romeo, and  Earl Merkel?

What is it about Author Earl Merkel? I am not sure. Maybe it is his charming personality, humorist wry way with words, or his "eclectic" writer's psyche. I was first impressed by Earl Merkel because he did a very kind deed for me. Matter of fact, I have never met him, just added him on Facebook as a friend and he helped to promote my radio show while I honored a friend's birthday. I was more than touched by his thoughtfulness. 

"The Earl Merkel outlaw motorcycle club & writers' group,"

It was at this time that I was more than intrigued so I researched the author. The first thing that I found was a brilliant essay titled, The Bangladeshi Computer Gap Commentary and Satire. It is better known as the now as The Infamous Chicken Little Article. Next, I purchased a copy of his novel and asked Earl for an interview on my show.

My Interview with Earl Merkel. Photo taken by my Bangladeshi friend Mahmud Amin (Birds)

Earl is the author of thrillers such as Final Epidemic, Fire of the Prophet and Dirty Fire and an iconoclast in his own right.

Earl Merkel's, Fire of the Prophet is unquestionably an extraordinary novel that is not only emotionally-grabbing but will also stand the test of time as a substantive fictional account of the Global War on Terror. Merkel writes with a seemingly journalistic approach that is well researched. He explores the world of power, misguided trust, espionage, and terrorism. Intense with suspense and full of action, this novel will be a favorite among avid suspense thriller readers.

Earl Merkel's Website
Throughout the book the transfer of power is more than evident as a theme. From the gripping escape by Fatíma Huntsman, struggles with al-Qaeda-affiliated factions like the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, to the sequences of action by Beck Casey and Jeffrey Connor. I felt the author even toys with the reader by the emphasis of meticulously detailed scientific facts of nuclear weapons, firearms, and then combining it with military knowledge. However, Merkel also purposely switches the names of cities of Culpepper, Virginia and Frederick, Maryland for fictional value. Furthermore, the author uses the literary technique of wordplay with the character names of Justin Beaver, Garth Brooks, among others. This is also a classic journalistic and media approach much like today that provides the `Hollywood candy' while the real stories are often harder to decipher. Earl Merkel gives clues to this wit early on in the novel when Mason states to the President, "It is a chess match, and we find that any rational move we contemplate leaves us open to checkmate. We are forced to delay and definitive response, lest the knife turn in our own hand." However, the author later writes a scene where Beck Casey sat at a chess table which displayed no pieces, tying in to the earlier chess reference.

Earl's Goodreads profile

 With excellent character development, Earl Merkel creates distinctive and memorable characters that remain with you long after you finish the novel. In fact, this keeps the novel interesting and suspenseful. Additionally, the author makes great use of vivid sensory details which makes the plot very plausible. A great example is, "It was only then that they heard faint noises from down the hallway, the kind of sounds a person might make if her mouth had been tenderly stuffed with a balled-up kitchen sponge and secured with a double-wrapping of fiberglass-reinforced heavy-duty plastic shipping tape." Moreover, the added conflict between characters such as Fatíma and her husband, Beck Casey and Mahoud Farzaneh sets a mood of distrust and a false sense of security. "Panic is an ugly beast; in one person, it is a savage focus on the need of the "me" to escape, to survive." this is a great example of how the author articulates the tone.

The book presents both sides of the global war on terror that is very relevant to our current events. There is an undertow of wry humor, but the main tone is serious, observant, and deeply intelligent. If you read closely you will note some personal hints to the author's past journalist days. After all, "There's no such thing as an `ex-journalist.' At best, we're all just in recovery." Earl Merkel`s ability to devise an intricate plot coupled with his understanding of relevant current events will leave the reader wanting more and anxiously waiting the sequel. I highly recommend Fire of the Prophet by Earl Merkel. Oh and be sure to listen to "The Book, with Earl Merkel" every Sunday 9 p.m. ET with Authors on The Air.


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