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Bones in The Desert – Review

by: Bommersbach, Jana

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Location: 175 Fifth Ave, NY, NY

Copyright: 2008

Type: Paperback


reviewed by: Lynard Barnes 5/1/2009


Summary: The murder of Loretta Bowersock by live-in boyfriend Taw Benderly. She was 69 at the time of her murder in 2004.

The major contribution Jana Bommersbach’s BONES IN THE DESERT makes to any discussion about crime is how difficult it can be to define a crime when victim and victimizer are in a domestic relationship. In the death of sixty-nine year old Loretta Bowersock, it is obvious that she was the victim of various personal crimes long before she was finally murdered on December 14, 2004. Taw Benderly, the man who murdered her and nine days later killed himself, had been siphoning away Bowersock’s assets for years. He appeared to be an asset sponge. For the nearly twenty years of Bowersock’s and Benderly’s relationship, Bowersock was the spigot and Benderly the sponge. That’s the way it appears.

There is a compelling story in the Bowersock and Benderly relationship going far beyond the murder and suicide. But we don’t get that story here. Bommersbach’s treatment of the principals and the final crime is viewed through the tempered skylight of Terry Bowersock, Loretta’s daughter. It is useless to speculate on how Loretta Bowersock and Taw Benderly existed as a couple, as a dysfunctional couple, as victim and victimizer. But there is much in BONES IN THE DESERT to suggest that there was more to them as flawed man and woman than the saintly Loretta and evil Taw sketched in the pages of the book.

The author manages to sneak in two themes pertaining to the life of Loretta Bowersock which are not developed in the particular. The first theme is that of the abused woman. Loretta Bowersock did not see herself as a victim of abuse and it is relatively easy to understand why. To the outside world she appeared confident and accomplished. She ran a business and was, for most of her life, a single parent. Her only failing, if one can call it a failing-quirk would be more appropriate-was that she believed a woman needed a man in her life. The fact is of course that everyone, woman and man, needs a life. Life, in turn, is besot with dizzying array of absorbing problems. Absent a problem, most people will go out and look for one. Sometimes, as with Loretta Bowersock, the problem finds them. From the author’s treatment of the subject, it appears that Bowersock allowed herself to sink so deep into the problem of Taw Benderly that there was no way for her to climb up. The author does not give us a clue as to why this strong and independent woman surrendered to life as a victim.

It is tempting to see the circumstances of Loretta Bowersock’s life and un-necessary death as a facet of elderly abuse. Author Jana Bommersbach raises the issue in passing, noting that the “. . year she died [Loretta Bowersock, 2004], more than 4,900 cases of suspected elder abuse were reported in her home county in Arizona. . .” While the abuse is real, the question is how it relates to Loretta Bowersock. That her “long-time”, live-in boyfriend was stealing her blind and eventually murdered her points unequivocally to spousal abuse, elderly abuse and more. But “abuse” in the abstract-giving it a label-does not help the reader understand Loretta Bowersock. The book is filled with too many contradictions to sum Loretta Bowersock or even Taw Benderly with abstractions.

The omnipresence of Terri Bowersock, Loretta’s daughter, throughout the pages of BONES IN THE DESERT explains the contradictions, the absence of a flesh and blood Loretta Bowersock.. It is the story of “a daughter’s search” for her mother. Perhaps, the search was not only a search for the mother’s body, which was found in 2006, but also for the woman Terri Bowersock knew as her mother. The former search was successful, apparently with the help of some physics. But the search for the woman, Loretta Bowersock, was definitely not completed in this book.

BONES IN THE DESERT is not recommended reading.




God Code, The – Review

by: Braden, Gregg

Publisher: Hay House, Inc, P.O. Box 5100

Location: Carlsbad, CA 92018

Copyright: 2004

Cover: Tricia Breidenthal

Type: Softcover

reviewed by: Lynard Barnes 5/1/2009

Summary: God’s name as the DNA code for humans.

The world is a mysterious place.

The world is a puzzling place.

Depending on your perspective in processing surrounding reality, you may or may not be capable of writing a book like THE GOD CODE. This book creates a puzzle and then resolutely goes about solving it. It’s a trend.

Finding the mystery or puzzle is the key. Children are expert at this until constant admonitions to stop searching and “do as I say” kills the adventurous spirit.

If looking for God in all the wrong places is a description of the confused and faithless (it is also the title of a book by Marie D. Jones ), the THE GOD CODE and other such works are the templates for the search. When Doron Witztum, Eliyathu Rips and Yoav Rosenberg published their “Equidistant Letter Sequences in the Book of Genesis” in “Statistical Science” magazine, they exposed the skeleton upon which human cultural and social organization is hung-the flesh that makes up society. The Witztum, Rips and Rosenberg article went on to become THE BIBLE CODE. It too was a template for the confused and faithless. Every since Niccolo di Bernardo Dei Machiavelli penned THE PRINCE with its blueprint for political power, and Sun Tzu’s laid out the strategy of managing exigencies of survival in THE ART OF WAR, there has developed an accelerated effort to strip away the “fat and flesh” of what holds human society together: to get to “the bottom of things”, the essentials, the skeleton, the basis. The cause of Mankind.

Gregg Braden’s THE GOD CODE exposes no new bone, no new marrow long hidden within some esoteric knowledge. THE GOD CODE merely flashes the knife as it carves yet another worn-out idea into the hearts of the confused and faithless.

Essentially, Braden takes the Hebrew alphabet, examines the numerical values assigned to each letter and compares them to the same values resulting from the DNA sequence code. Hence, we are told that the name of God is written in every cell of our bodies. Fascinating. But so what?

Braden contends that the Hebrew alphabet, which has been in use for over 3,000 years, is numerically coded with sacred knowledge. So too were Egyptian hieroglyphics and Sumerian cuneiform, but they are no longer in use. The Hebrew alphabet can be used to unravel the puzzle of “why Humankind”. The logic Braden employs to arrive at his conclusion that the DNA sequence, ATGC-adenine, thymine, guanine, and cytosine-is the coded name of YHVH is flawless. YHVH is, minus vowels, “the name revealed to Moses nearly 3,500 years ago” as the name of God and the name by which God was to be known by the people of “this world”. Flawless logic, suspect premise. (See the online “Energygrid Magazine” for critique of Braden’s logic in this book).

For the non-religious among us (note “non-religious” as opposed to “non-believers”—they are not synonymous), any Truth spewing out of the mind of man or woman is automatically suspect. Braden’s entire premise rests upon the “code”–as in words and symbols–of people, both ancient and modern. The Truth of the “God code” is that it is a logical manipulation of knowledge streams rooted in ancient history. Braden pays only cursory homage to Sumerian civilization and its influence upon what was to become the ancient Hebrews – descendants of the prophet Heber according the Book of Genesis. He does not mention Phoenicia civilization at all. Braden does point out that “one of the greatest interruptions in our chain of knowledge resulted from the biblical edits of the early Christian Church in the fourth century.” This of course is reference to the Council of Nice in 325 C.E. which re-organized all previous “codes” used in Western religions, effectively defining the belief boundaries of the Christian religion. The pillars of knowledge upon which THE GOD CODE and other such works are based are the following:

Ancient writings going all the way back to the dawn of current civilization telling essentially the same creation stories with distinct cultural influences.

Structuring of one doctrine of religious belief-the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam–in which social and political determinants dictated tenets of “true” faith.

The lack of any logic or system of thought which establishes a universal intelligence or God.

This last of course is the nucleus of all preceding it. It is where the “templates” should start. Of course since there can be no logic or system of thought proving the intentions or lack of intentions of a God or gods, books such as THE GOD CODE, THE BIBLE CODE, and others start with a presumption which can not be challenged. God is. God is because of faith. No further discussion is necessary, so they jump into beautiful, logical discussions about ancient alphabets and DNA, or ancient words and current puzzles.

Parts one and two of Braden’s book constructs the logic of his premise that God’s name is written in the DNA of humans. Part three of THE GOD CODE is a sermon on why this “evidence” of God’s gift of life should end all social hostilities and bring love and peace to the world. Herein lies the second problem with massaging, carving and holding up to the light of day the flesh, as in spiritual beliefs, of human society: practically anyone can cite the “evidence” and preach about “the good way” to go through life, but the very act of citing “evidence” and declaring a correct way is contrary to the “evidence” and to the preaching. It is a conundrum. But there may also be secret knowledge here. Someone, anyone, may yet discover it.

THE GOD CODE, founded upon a presumption, proceeding logically to a conclusion, is despite its obvious good intentions, too airy to contribute anything to a serious discussion about the existence or intentions of God or god.




First Patient, The – Review

by: Palmer, Michael

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Location: 175 Fifth Ave, NY, NY

Copyright: 2008

Type: Paperback


reviewed by: Lynard Barnes 5/1/2009

Summary: Dr. Gabe Singleton, the President’s physican, saves the United States from the controls of a conspiracy.


Take the improbable and make it seem probable, the unbelievable and make it believable. THE FIRST PATIENT, as fiction, fails in both departments. Despite that, it is an entertaining novel.

The first patient of course is President of the United States, Andrew Stoddard. The doctor is Gabe Singleton. There are a number of other lesser characters moving this story along, but they are merely props. The exception here might be the fictional first lady, Carol Stoddard. She does not morph into a leading role in the events transpiring, but from her introduction there is the inescapable impression that she will eventually expose a dastardly side of herself that will doom the free world as we know it. It is only an impression and proves to be unfounded. She is, like the rest of the props in this novel, only a prop.

Palmer uses this novel to explore the uses and possible abuses of nanotechnology and for that reason alone the novel is entertaining. What is nanotechnology? According to wikipedia, it is “the study of the control of matter on an atomic and molecular scale”. (A nanometer is the size of a marble compared to the size of the earth-really small). This rather generic definition encompasses everything from chemical, biochemical and elector-biochemical systems. What can be done with nanotechnology? If you can control physical structures at the molecular level, there really is no limit as to what you can control. There is however a catch and it is a catch that Palmer explores on the macro-reality level in THE FIRST PATIENT.

To exert control on anything at the macro or atomic-level requires application of energy or force outside the energy-expenditure loop of the structure being controlled. This is the analogous situation Palmer sets up in his novel and it works quit well as an analogy. Then there is that sword of justice. It is employed in all classical fiction and takes the form of retribution, or the more philosophical judgment of karma. THE FIRST PATIENT has all of this. The president’s doctor, Gabe Singleton, is a recovering alcoholic and former prisoner, having been convicted of killing a woman and her children in an auto accident while in college many years before. The future President of the United States, Andrew Stoddard, was in the car at the time. Andrew Stoddard’s father, a billionaire with a bent for control, stands by Singleton throughout the car accident ramifications, and Singleton’s alcoholism. The climax to this story is supposed to be a shocker. Of course it is not a shocker. The reader is merely impressed by the intricacies the author employs to build a logical though highly implausible story. An entertainingly implausible story, sort of like a grimly tale.

A far reaching conspiracy is encroaching upon the office of the President and the only one the wiser is the President’s physician. Okay, so all those highly skilled and intimidating Secret Service agents are all over the White House, but they don’t have a clue. Except one Secret Service agent. There is another Secret Service agent who eventually finds out what going on but she-and it has to be a she-is decommissioned by circumstances and plays no role in saving the world.

The science of the story is clever but high fiction, sort of like the fabled women on mars.

This book is not a must read. In fact, you could skip it altogether not lose out on anything. The entertainment value is an escape for a few hour. Certainly not a worthless exercise.




Into The Water – Review

by:  Fanning, Diane

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Location: 175 Fifth Ave, NY,NY

Copyright: 2004

Type: Paperback


reviewed by: Lynard Barnes 5/1/2009

Summary: Richard Marc Evonitz, a serial killer who killed himself upon being surrounded on a Florida highway, is examined in this superficial exploration of his crimes.

Diane Fanning’s INTO THE WATER starts in June 2002 with Richard Marc Evonitz waking up from the dreamless world of a serial-rapist to discover that his latest victim has fled the confinement of his house and was probably on her way to the Richmond County, Virginia Sheriff’s Department office around the corner.

From there, INTO THE WATER sinks into the dribble of formula crime-book reporting. Richard Evonitz ends up blowing his brains out after being surrounded by members of the Sarasota, Florida Police Department. The man who had murdered three young girls, was in the process of murdering another before she escaped, was himself dead by his own hand. From beginning to end, author Fannings reports the facts, makes some conjectures and leaves a tapestry of faces and places seeping through the smoke that the reader takes to be Richard Marc Evonitz. Diane Fanning’s clarity and focus in writing is beyond question. But why this book?

In most books about crime, it is relatively easy to determine what the author is up to aside from condemning criminality. Quite a few expose weaknesses in the criminal justice system. Some promote the dogged determination of a law enforcement officer-police or prosecuting attorney. Some flirt with the larger questions of individual responsibility and societal culpability in making criminals. INTO THE WATER has none of this. It is a snippet of time in the life of a criminal and his victims, undistinguished from the life of any other criminal and any other victim. This consistency of real world banality requires anyone who raises their voice in the particular to go beyond the daily news. Achieving that goal is by no means easy. The twenty-four hour, seven days a week news cycle skims anything remotely related to a headline and occasionally scoops a little deeper. Examples are what cable COURTTV (now called something else) and what MSNBC presents as in dept crime reporting. This makes it very difficult for crime book authors to present something resembling a unique voice.

The last refuge for the crime book author either without a perspective or reluctant to provide one is victimology. Rarely-as in almost never-does a crime book reveal the full impact of a crime upon the victims of the crime. “Victims” include not only the person against whom a crime was committed, but their family and community as well. In works such as INTO THE WATER, the crime victim is placed in the impending crime situation. The victim is then victimized. If a death has resulted, the crime author will devote a few words about the funeral and family reaction. The victim is more often than not presented as a prop to move the writing along. You get this feeling from reading INTO THE WATER, though the author can not be blamed too harshly for this. It is the formula of crime books. However, when the focus of the crime book is supposedly the criminal, then the reader should at least get a realistic portrait of the criminal. INTO THE WATER fails this basic mission. (For an excellent example of crime book reporting that goes beyond the formula, read Jeanine Cummings’ 2004 book, “A Rip In Heaven”, reviewed by TGBRJ in April 2005 ).

The criticism here about crime books in general and a specific crime book which does in fact discuss a criminal, in this instance Richard Marc Evonitz, might raise the question of why read crime books at all. The question is really not pertinent to the criticism. However, readers read for readers’ reasons. Maybe there is some free-floating idea out there that all criminals come from broken-homes, or that practically all serial killers have never served in the military or functioned poorly. Maybe there is a free-floating idea out there that evil implants itself in the human psyche when religion is absent. Readers read to explore preconceptions or to form conceptions or even to create a conception to “explain it all”. INTO THE WATER misses the “reasons to read this” boat.



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