Only eleven shopping days till Christmas. And less than a week to save the world. Three nuns--in Chicago, Paris, and Jerusalem--have been killed in a religious ritual. The choice of victims and the macabre details of their deaths indicate that someone is following a recipe provided on an ancient text--a recipe to unleash the forces of hell on earth. The final sacrifice must occur on the Winter Solstice. Samuel Roberts, a small-town attorney in Urbana, Illinois, knows a bit about the supernatural, having triumphed at least once over the forces of evil. Thanks to a friend who is aware of Sam's little known previous efforts on behalf of mankind, Sam is hired by a big Chicago law firm to take on a sensitive case. His mission? Nothing less than halting the impending apocalypse. Sam and his good buddy Bob travel first to Jerusalem then Paris in a desperate race to save mankind. Ruler of Demons is the sequel to Cocaine Zombies, which won a Bronze medal in the 2012 IPPY Awards.
About the Author
Author and attorney Scott A. Lerner resides in Champaign, Illinois. He obtained his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and went on to obtain his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. He is currently a sole practitioner in Champaign, Illinois. The majority of his law practice focuses on the fields of criminal law and family law. Mr. Lerner lives with his wife, their two children, and their cat Fern. Lerner collects unusual antiques and enjoys gardening, traveling, reading fiction, and going to the movies. His first novel, Cocaine Zombies, won a bronze medal in the mystery/cozy/noir category of the 2013 Independent Publisher (IPPY) Awards. You can find Scott online at: scottlerner.camelpress.com.
Read an Excerpt
I turned the knob to my front door to find it unlocked. I don't always remember to lock my door so I was not overly alarmed. On the other hand the dead bird combined with the unlocked door did put me on edge. Since my last supernatural entanglement, I had begun to leave a Louisville Slugger in the umbrella rack by the door.
I slowly opened the door. Nothing appeared out of place, but I grabbed the bat and slowly made my way through each room of my house. I found no sign of intruders.
I decided it was safe and put the bat back where I had stashed it. It was almost seven-thirty and I had still not eaten. Not to be critical, but the wake could have used some snacks and Irish whiskey.
I thought about cooking some traditional Irish delicacy in honor of Mrs. O'Neill but the closest thing I had in the kitchen was a year-old box of Lucky Charms. I kept meaning to get to that. My fear of refrigerators had mostly dissipated over the last year, and I decided to risk a roast beef sandwich. I opened the crisper bin and gathered a container of roast beef, some sliced sharp cheddar cheese, and some Grey Poupon mustard.
I placed them on the kitchen table. I was about to retrieve the sourdough bread from the bread box when something caught my attention. In the middle of the table was a silver pocket watch case. I do have a number of watches, but I don't store them in the kitchen. I also don't own a pocket watch.
I picked up the case. On the front was an engraving of three stalks of wheat. The kernels where plated in gold. Behind the wheat was a large cross, also in gold.
Yellow guilloche enamel covered the entire back side. The engraving there looked to be of a small shield with a sword behind it. The hilt of the sword had two cross guards. Above the shield, a hat with long tassels framed the sword and shield. There was a tiny hallmark on the neck of the case of Minerva as well as a small diamond with initials inside that had been mostly rubbed away. I could tell there were two letters but I could only identify an "S."
This case was expensive and well made. If it had been left here by a robber, then they didn't fully understand their job. I sat down and pushed the button attached to the neck of the case. When the case opened, I immediately recognized my error; this was not a watch case but a pyx--the silver case priests hold the host in.
I understand that the host is supposed to transform into the body of Christ once ingested, but not until it is placed in the mouth. Inside the case was a puddle of blood. The blood surrounded the tip of a severed tongue like a tiny moat.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is an intriguing story about a man called upon to stop a misguided individual from summoning the devil. This mysterious evildoer is trying to fulfill a quest which involves human sacrifice in order to bring forth the impending apocalypse. I found this story to be somewhat scary and unsettling. It journeyed through many devious twists, including murder and torture. It's a race to stop an unknown enemy from conjuring the ruler of demons and what happens on this global trek to uncover that person's true identity. This thriller is not for the faint of heart, but it's certainly a page turner.
Why go away this Christmas season when you can travel the world with Sam Roberts in RULER OF DEMONS? The international flavor this mystery employs sets it apart from the pack, giving the reader first class access to Israeli archeological digs and sumptuous Parisian hotels. Author Scott A. Lerner records every nuance like a world traveler from the long, boring plane rides to the erratic driving behavior of taxicab drivers. He establishes the local color of each locale, making each one stand out as guideposts as the story moves along. The action starts in Sam's suburban hometown of Urbana, Illinois. He lives in a small ranch-style home where trees line the distinctive brick streets. He has a garden he has to defend against squirrels and rabbits. Nothing too exciting, until he's summoned to Chicago by a friend in a prestigious law firm on Michigan Avenue, part of the city's famed Magnificent Mile. The art deco building screams wealth and sophistication with its marble floor and brass revolving door. Sam is wined and dined with a hearty portion of filet mignon until he agrees to help Palmer, Gotha and Smart solve a case involving the Catholic Church. He then boards a plane to Jerusalem. The landscape of Israel shifts from fields to deserts to skyscrapers. Sam refers to his arrival saying, "The city was literally and spiritually golden. As in most ancient cities, Israel is a strange mix of historical and modern. I found it fascinating rather than unsettling." Visiting Hebrew University and haggling in the bustling marketplace, the Old City is a labyrinth of winding paths. Sam ponders his Jewish heritage at the Wailing Wall and seeks out a shady antiquities shop to purchase protection from the evil forces that are out to get him. He's then summoned to Paris by a priest. But despite a roasted rack of lamb and carafe of red wine, he spends an unpleasant interval in cozy yet creepy farmhouse before escaping to the luxury of the city. From his hotel room window, Sam reports, "It was like peering into another time. The cobblestone square was surrounded by ageless buildings from history." The accommodations are posh from the Louis XV gilt-wood mirror to the mahogany desk and chair. He checks out the Louvre, dines atop the Eiffel Tower and faces the scene of his recurring nightmare, Notre Dame Cathedral. Leaving the twinkling lights of Paris behind, Sam returns to Chicago where a limo driver awaits at O'Hare airport. He's quickly transported back to the art deco office building, but this time to the rooftop on the sixty-sixth floor overlooking Lake Michigan. The topiary he viewed the last time around takes on a sinister significance as things start to unravel. There are no shrimp puffs waiting for him, only danger as the wind picks up and the clouds descend. RULER OF DEMONS gives a nice snapshot of all aspects of life from a rabbi in the Holy Land to a sexy double agent in the City of Love. It's definitely a mystery to pick up in order to sightsee and read at the same time. Lerner delivers an exciting global expedition without the need for a passport.
Nothing gets the pages turning like a showdown between good and evil, and mystery author Scott A. Lerner pens a battle royale starring none other than God vs. Satan. It turns out there's a secret formula written on an immortal piece of human flesh that was uncovered with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. It was under lock and key at the Vatican until someone stole it. The problem? No one knows if conducting the ritual sacrifices (a.k.a. the sick and twisted killing of nuns) will bring Jesus back to earth or release the devil from hell. Who could possibly stop either of these epic catastrophes from happening? Sam Roberts, a small town defense attorney from Urbana, Illinois, is charged with the task. But is he up to the challenge? Roberts seems to be singled out by supernatural forces for these kind of assignments. He dreads getting involved, but he does so anyway. This time, he's backed into a corner when he finds a chopped off human tongue on his table. So he calls his friend, Bob, and hops a plane to Israel to begin the investigation. The plot weaves through a variety of foreign locations from Jerusalem to Paris before setting up the climatic conclusion in Chicago. Sam and Bob chase a trail of breadcrumbs given to them by scholars, cab drivers and religious fanatics only to end up right back where they started. It's a wild goose chase that explores the background of the world's three major religions - Christianity, Judaism and Islam - through the eyes of a main character who doesn't profess affiliation to any of them. Sam is the secular man trying to uncover the logical truth behind the spiritual superstitions embedded in the various cultures. The journey takes some twists and turns along the way from a murderous fire demon attack in a hotel lobby to the appearance of a beautiful woman who somehow takes a liking to the sci-fi loving, Bob. Not to mention, the HOME ALONE style escape from a basement dungeon and a homeless man with cockroaches crawling all over him issuing prophetic words of doom. The novel is jam-packed with details from TV and movie references to mouth-watering descriptions of local cuisine. Lerner has a keen eye for the world his characters inhabit making it come alive for the reader in all three dimensions. Overall, the mystery aspect is intriguing, but it's the banter between Sam and Bob that holds the book together.
Sam Roberts is the type of guy who really doesn't have faith in anything besides himself. That's why he's an intriguing choice to head a murder investigation involving the Catholic Church. Nuns are being killed in an attempt to prompt the Second Coming of Jesus Christ or to open the doors of hell so that Satan can roam the earth. Either option isn't particularly reassuring. So when the church's high profile attorney gets Sam to sign on to the case, he's forced to confront some issues about organized religion he'd rather not think about. He's a sinner because he likes to sin. If it feels good, he does it - and he doesn't beat himself up over it. He likes good food. He enjoys the company of women. He doesn't profess allegiance to any particular code of moral conduct. But he's encountered the supernatural before, and he doesn't question its legitimacy. He knows there are forces out there that he is powerless against, and that unnerves him. It doesn't stop him, but it makes him question just what exactly he's up against. If God is indeed all powerful, then why does evil exist at all? So why does Sam believe in some force greater than himself? Because he's had first hand experience with it. It doesn't defy his sense of logic because he's encountered the paranormal with his five senses. He can make a deduction after having an eyewitness account with a fire demon in his Israeli hotel room. He saw its flame. He heard its voice. He smelled its smoke. Basically, he couldn't deny what was right in front of him. Sam is a person who looks to pop culture references in order to make sense of the world around him. SCOOBY DOO, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME all figure into his thought processes when it comes to analyzing his accounts with the unknown. He thinks he's a magnet for the forces of darkness, attracting chaos into his life. And as the mystery unfolds, he's apparently right. In this particular instance, his Jewish bloodline singles him out. He's a marked man but he doesn't find out until it's almost too late. By owning up to the smart aleck that he is, he just might save his life as well as those he loves.
THE DA VINCI CODE with a holiday twist is the perfect gift to give the mystery lover this holiday season. Scott A. Lerner continues his Sam Roberts' series of paranormal whodunits with this Christmastime caper. The hunt is on as he tries to track down a ritualistic killer who's been conducting a string of gruesome murders across the globe. Nuns are being slaughtered on sacred ground in an attempt to bring about the apocalypse on the winter solstice. The individual responsible allegedly obtained a top secret manuscript from the Vatican on how to perform unspeakable acts of evil in order to force the second coming of the Messiah. There's just one problem - it might actually be a how-to manual for summoning the devil. This recipe for human sacrifice is all about taking the holy and making it profane. Lerner keeps the pace brisk and the action non-stop as Sam and his sidekick, Bob, travel the world from Chicago to Jerusalem to Paris in the hope of thwarting the sadistic plot after a severed tongue ends up in Sam's kitchen. Realizing the extent of the danger they're in, Sam begins to question the people they're working for - a hotshot yet highly secretive attorney, an influential cardinal and an ex-Marine who's now an ordained priest. They're doling out a great deal money for Sam to conduct his investigation, but are they really setting him up to take the fall? The changes in location help place the novel in the religious and historical framework that Lerner constructs. An archeological site in Israel grounds the story in antiquity. A French farmhouse built on the remnants of a Catholic church adds a spiritual element. The rooftop of a Chicago skyscraper brings things back to the modern threat that evil poses complete with an elaborately constructed altar. All of these settings combine with a protagonist who is more of a suburban atheist than anything else. Sam's belief in logic and living in the now directly opposes the nature of the crimes he's trying to solve, giving the book an added sense of tension as the reader is forced to look at things from the outside in. Christmas may be threatened, and even though Sam Roberts might believe more in Santa Claus than in God, he's going to do everything in his power to keep the forces of evil at bay - or at least for another sixty-six years until they can be summoned again. If the end of the world won't stop Americans from indulging in the holiday season, nothing will. So let the sleuthing festivities commence and check the suspense aficionado off your list by purchasing this gem of a thriller. RULER OF DEMONS might not be bursting with peace on earth and yuletide cheer, but for the murder mystery fan who gravitates toward the macabre, it makes the perfect stocking stuffer.