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Extraordinary tale of real-life 1885 murders in Austin, Texas.  Author Ernie Lee provides  exciting  scene-b y-scene coverage in this thrilling novel. One of the main suspects was a Malaysian ship cook named Maurice.  Although Maurice was never caught or interviewed, Lee focuses on this particular suspect in his novel. By researching late 19th century sailors and ancient Malaysian forklore, Lee uncovers new evidence  that has never been explored. For instance, many of the Austin victims had a hole in their head. Much speculation at the time centered on an ice pick, a long nail or spike, or a rod of some sort. Lee explains that every sailor of that era had access to a marlin spike. A marlin spike matches exactly the wounds recorded int he autopsy reports of the time. Lee describes Malaysian folk mythis of the Panaggalong, an Asian monster similar to our vampires. The difference is very interesting. The way to neutralize an European vampire is a stake through the heart; the way to eliminate an  Asian vampire is a stake through the head.

The remainder of the novel is fiction. Since no records exist of the real suspect, Lee fills in the blanks from his creative imagination. The thrilling murder-by-murder descriptions melds real-life with fiction, and results in an intreresting read, and a very scarey scenario. When intervied on NPR radio, Lee described the grisley killings. A must read.       Barton McDonald

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