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The Rough Guide To The Da Vinci Code – Book Comment

DaVinci CodeTheRoughGuide by: Haag, Michael and Veronica Haag

Publisher: Rough Guides Ltd: www.roughguides.com

Copyright: 2004, ISBN:  [1843535173]

Cover: Duncan Clark (Corbis)

Type: Paperback

reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, March 24, 2005

Summary: Quick and to the point, exposing the fiction of fictional novel THE DA VINCI CODE.

 

When we last left Dan Brown’s novel, THE DA VINCI CODE, we thought Bart D. Ehrman had supplied us  with just about everything we needed to know as rebuttals to contentions of an un-godly, married, King of the Jews, Jesus Christ (see the November 2004 review of THE TRUTH AND FICTION IN THE DA VINCI CODE). We thought we had everything. Turns out, in reading Michael and Veronica Haag’s THE ROUGH GUIDE TO THE DA VINCI CODE, we were right.

The ROUGH GUIDE is of course just that–a guide. On its own, it is good but redundant. How many times can you say Dan Brown exaggerates a point without yourself exaggerating? What makes THE ROUGH GUIDE worth reading is the travel guide to places mentioned in Brown’s novel and the detailed discussion of objects mentioned. Everything from the Da Vinci paintings (“John the Baptist was routinely depicted as an effeminate figure in Renaissance art”, solving the mystery of the “woman” sitting next to Christ in Da Vinci’s Last Supper), to the headquarters of Opus Dei (“…separate on-site parking for men and women….”).

Aside from the travelogue, THE ROUGH GUIDE does one other service to Dan Brown’s book sales. . . Ah, that is to say, Dan’s Brown’s fictional treatment of history. It ferrets out (if that’s the correct phrase for this) the tradition of the sacred feminine. It does a good job, but is not thorough. The impression is given that the Egyptian Osiris cult was the starting point for the deification of the death-life cycle as represented by Jesus the Son of God the Father and the Virgin Mary as Mother of God. In reading this in the first part of THE ROUGH GUIDE, you get the very distinct impression that something is missing. Even the missing is minor compared to what authors Haag are able to cover.

If you are looking for a quick read on the history and controversy of Brown’s novel, THE ROUGH GUIDE TO THE DA VINCI CODE is a good place to start, but by no means make it the final exploration.

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A Warrant to Kill: A True Story of Obsession, Lies and a Killer Cop – Book Review

AWarrantToKillby: Kathryn Casey

Publisher: Avon Books: www.avonbooks.com

Copyright: 2002, ISBN: [0380780410]

Type: Paperback

reviewed by: Lynard Barnes, March 15, 2005

 

Summary:  Very well written crime report with enough detail for the reader to form an opinion of what contributed to the murder of Susan White at the hands of Kenth McGowen.

 

In a world where doing “the right thing” is consensus opinion and doing “wrong” is simply individual perspective, you have people like Kenth McGowen who continually slither across the line of socially responsible behavior until they do something monumentally wrong, like take another’s life. McGowen was a law enforcement officer in the Houston, Texas suburb of Olde Oaks. The life he took was that of Susan White.

 

Author Kathryn Casey provides a sketch of the lives of White and McGowen that almost forces the reader to weigh the pathos of the seemingly minor decisions people make and their cumulative impact.

 

Kent McGowen’s entire rationale for existence, in his mind, was to be a police officer. He was initially rejected when he applied to the Houston Police Department but was finally accepted in October 1985. In 1989 his commission as a Houston Police Officer was pulled because of a supposed death threat from Colombian nationals. The usual spiel: he was on to a “big” drug bust and the Colombians wanted to stop him. The department determined that there was no death threat and that McGowen had engineered the entire episode by having a friend of his father’s make a threatening phone call. While on the Houston PD, McGowen acquired a reputation as an exaggerator, a woman hater, and an officer not trusted by his fellows. These were the dominate traits he took into the Houston Police Department and the traits he left with. His stint with the Houston PD was to be the zenith of his law enforcement career. Author Casey picks up the pattern and allows the reader to follow it through two other law enforcement jobs before he ends up as a contract officer in Olde Oaks.

 

Casey portrays Susan White as excessively devoted to a son going through the usual angst of adolescence. A tall, stylish blond, separated from her second husband and trying to get her life back on track, White was already stuck in a pattern of defending her son. Defense was a reflex. Hanging out with other teenagers without responsible direction or guidance, it was inevitable that the son, Jason, would have an encounter with McGowen, the super-cop. The encounter was minor. But what came out of the encounter was an apparent fixation by Susan White that McGowen was out to “get Jason”.

 

White told friends and acquaintances that Kent McGowen was, in effect, stalking her. Yet, there is only one incident in the book in which author Kathryn Casey brings the two together prior to the killing. At the time, Susan White had purchased a gun and one of the many police officers she knew was at her house showing her how to handle it. McGowen stopped by during his normal patrol. However, a friend of White’s says that White met McGowen in the spring of 1992. He pulled her over for speeding and instead of giving her a ticket, asked her out. The stalking of White by McGowen supposedly started from that point and Susan White came to believe that McGowen was targeting her son Jason in order to get to her.

 

Kathryn Casey builds a very strong, credible scenario detailing the reason things happened as they did in August 1992. Jason was arrested by McGowen for transporting a stolen gun. A warrant was issued for Susan White for threatening the confidential informant McGowen used to set up the bogus gun sale. In serving the warrant, McGowen said that White aimed a gun at him and he was in fear for his life. He shot her. It came out at McGowen’s murder trial that White could not have been pointing a gun due to the position of her body when struck by the three bullets from McGowen’s gun.

 

Other than the one eye-witness account of McGowen being in Susan White’s home when another officer was showing her how to use the gun she purchased and substantial word-of-mouth recounting by White’s friends that she and McGowen had exchanged words, there is nothing factual indicating that McGowen and White knew each other. As a reader, shifting fact from conjecture, the proverbial bottom line is that McGowen used his authority as a law enforcement officer to manufacture a situation in which Susan White lost her life. In serving the warrant for White’s arrest, if McGowen had permitted another officer to actually enter the house, Susan White probably would be alive. That’s the bottom line.

 

A WARRANT TO KILL is not a must read book. But it is very well written and does force you to ponder the consequences of those little decisions which seem important only for the moment.

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