Barbara Green

Mysteries

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Woven Silence

A Contemporary Mystery Borrowing from
the Book of Genesis

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The best medical care available, professionals always in attendance, final days spent with a loving family: All factors suggest a peaceful end for the old man. But it's whispered that the death of powerful patriarch Jake Lavarone was not natural. His death calls attention to a hedge of silence that both protects and entraps his prominent family. Determined academic sleuth Father Brendan Byrne makes his way into family secrets ancient and fresh: counterfeit ration coupons, a vanished favored son, a neglected and neurotic granddaughter, desperate additions of a spoiled scion. How to untangle the deeds of the guilty without harming the innocent? Located at the soft-boiled end of the mystery spectrum, Woven Silence is pitched to lovers of academic mysteries who delight in basically decent characters caught up in events that challenge them to do well. The setting is Berkeley's liberal and interreligious Graduate Theological Union, with city and University of California as backdrop. Woven Silence combines a classic biblical plot (the Genesis story of Joseph and his brothers) with a contemporary one: the inexplicable disappearance of a son from his family, fraternal animosity and guilt, parental favoritism, complex motivations, the beginnings of reconciliation.

Odd School Ties

A Contemporary Mystery Borrowing from
the Book of Jonah

When his community-activist lawyer friend fails to appear to guest-lecture on biblical law, theology professor Brendan Byrne cannot resist digging into the circumstances of Jonah's sudden disappearance. The man's eventual re-surfacing is even odder, and Brendan finds his curious self peering into a boat-wreck and sweatshop crime and pursuing a mysterious older woman with a wire-haired terrier and a family of ne'er-do-wells. With the help of good friends he finally resolves the knot of factors that explains Jonah's behavior to the satisfaction of all involved in the case. Set at Berkeley's Graduate Theological Union, this soft-boiled mystery is focused on the cerebral rather than on the vicious side of wrong-doing and invites readers to probe a double-helixed plot which twists an ancient biblical story around a contemporary enigma, all in the company of people enjoyable enough for readers to want to spend time with!

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Odd School Ties Photo Tour

Near Kin

A Contemporary Mystery Borrowing from
the Book of Ruth

Academic serenity and civility are shattered when an exhibit of ancient religious art at Berkeley's Graduate Theological Union is plundered from the school's library display rotunda the night before the show opens.  Theft in a closed community generates local suspects: library staff,  certain faculty, a Palestinian student, and the night maintenance staff.  Brendan Byrne, Dominican priest and professor of Old Testament at Berkeley's Graduate Theological Union works on the crime at the edges of full days, primarily out of loyalty and affection for his friends and to satisfy a lavish curiosity about the ways of the human species.  The mechanics of the crime's when and how give way to the more subtle issues of who and why, as Brendan and his two closest friends interrogate what data they can assemble.  It becomes apparent that kinship ties are a major motivator behind much of what has occurred.  To discern and disentangle the varied motivations of near kin keeps us trekking across Berkeley and Northern Oakland as well as tracking the geography of human motivation: to thwart another, to risk one's own livelihood, to act so that good can come to all.

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