CULTURED: A Jake Longly Thriller
This latest entry in the Jake Longly series makes a six-pack for cardiologist-author D.P. Lyle. It starts innocently with whimsical humor, but turns dark: “This is freaking evil on steroids.”
Clarice Wilkerson’s daughter April dropped off radar a few weeks ago after becoming involved in Jonathon Lindemann’s $120,000 membership fee self-help and enlightenment retreat called The Lindemann Method. TLM recruits wealthy people and promises enormous financial returns, sort of like that Bernie guy who made off with wealthy peoples’ money. Clarice won’t give April an advance on her lottery-like inheritance to pay TLM’s hefty fee, so April had been working there as a courtesan. Rhea Wilson, Lindemann’s second-in-command, says, “We need hostesses who are attractive and smart and can present a professional and cultured face.”
Tommy (Pancake) Jeffers “lumbered his six-five, 280-pound frame” over to Jake and Nicole sitting by the Gulf Shores, Alabama beach. Jake’s dad Ray is a no-nonsense private investigator. Pancake is his partner PI and cyber-wiz. “Each time I became entangled in Ray’s business, dangerous and chaotic situations popped up.”
Perhaps April quit communicating with her mom out of spite over the inheritance, but Clarice has hired Ray to investigate what she believes is April’s disappearance. He dispatches former pro-baseball pitcher Jake and famed Hollywood screenwriter Nicole to infiltrate Lindemann’s posh retreat, on the pretense of joining the group of wealthy people in an elite club that “will fix what ails you and make you rich.” The question begs: Why would wealthy people pay $120,000 to become rich? But this is America, where too much is never enough.
The celebrity couple is dazzled by TLM’s Vegas-like luxury suite, champagne and all. They meet the hostesses, all of whom speak highly of The Farm. Several of them have, allegedly, married wealthy guests and are living the good life. Only, they never return to get richer, as Lindemann purports. April was last seen voluntarily and alone taking a flight from Tallahassee to Tampa, where she attends parties at Andrew Heche’s home (“It’s more like a boutique hotel”), and cruises the Gulf on Andrew’s 85-foot luxury yacht, After Hours. Ah, the good life!
Readers who can get past troubling events in this novel --- events that happen in real life --- will find it an enjoyable read. And perhaps become more aware of cults and those who consider people expendable “merchandise.”
Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy