Joshua Rye is a self-serving, unethical, thirty-four-year-old investment banker, who harbors nothing but disdain for the infirmities of the human condition. How then did he end up as a volunteer in, of all things, Hospice House, the place where people go to die? Perhaps it has something to do with his ambition to become the investment firm’s youngest ever partner.
Even someone with such a conniving heart, however, must confront the realities of the circumstances he finds himself in. For the agnostic Joshua Rye, this means encountering the hospice’s lovely, deeply-devout chaplain, Bugle Dawn; Teddy Little Bear, a terrier with a sixth sense; and, as one patient says, “Signs along the way.”
Lake Clarity is dying—does anyone care? After all, it is a remote inland sea that few know about, and it is being quietly devoured by the steel aqueduct of a huge, faraway city. Before he died, the old Indian Jess cared; he always believed the legend that the Great Spirit would one day send his powerful defender Ta-ke-ne-ha to protect the ancient lake. And others in the distant past also cared enough to fight for her, despite a deadly adversary and an unforgiving natural landscape.
In the modern-day legal fight before the state Supreme Court, the powerful city’s ambitious attorney, Charles Vegoran, appears unbeatable. But when he suddenly learns that the tiny opposing town is to be represented by Ted Gables, a successful New York law partner raised near the lake, he ruthlessly involves big-city land developers that are used to protecting their interests with muscle.
Old and new romances converge, old hatreds reignite, and deadly assassins are loose in this perilous, high-mountain battle of wits and blood. If Lake Clarity is to survive, must the old Indian prophesy prove true? Does this explain the strange happenings when Gables returns to his boyhood home on the great Tioga?
Although a work of fiction, the novel is based in part on a historic California water fight; it balances the competing issues of ecology and economics on the head of a pin.
The plagues of 1693 have halved the population of Little Ariccia, Italy. The Giordano family is accustomed to the disease, servitude, and poverty of seventeenth century Europe, but it is set adrift with the loss of the mother and five of its seven children. Two teenage brothers will leave the vineyard to follow remarkably different futures.
The younger brother, Nicolo, must survive a perilous castration before his acceptance into the music conservatory in Rome. Seemingly gifted, the Catholic Church plans to train him as a castrato on the possibility that he will become one of the celebrity stars of Europe’s opera and theatre tradition. Spanish Princess Andora, however, will have her own say about his training.
The older brother, Luca, is found near death by a band of Roma (Gypsies) after a wildfire sweeps through the area’s vineyards. He is brought into the ancient culture of a people who must flee an edict of persecution and death. He is soon captivated by Donka, the chieftain’s spirited daughter, who seems not to notice that the wildfire disfigured half of his face.
The arcs of the brothers’ epic stories move toward one another until they converge years later in surprising and dangerous ways. The Duke of Savoy, the kings of France and Spain, and the intellectuals of the day, will all make their mark on the lives of these siblings.
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Note: Joshua Rye, Serpent at the Well, and MOLTO GRANDE are available at: amazon.com/author/dickfranklin.