(creator: C J Koehler)
|Detective Sergeant Ray Koepp was aged 37 and had been a cop for six years, but, much to his disappointment, had failed to solve some previous homicide cases that he had worked on since leaving vice. He had previously been a priest for six years ("a parish associate pastor") but had had to leave after making love to the already married Diane who "had transformed guilt from theological abstraction into personal pain" and had been the one to end the affair. He felt he had been a failure.
What he was good at, he knew, was ferreting out a killer's motivation as this "required logic and an understanding of human nature, skills in which he felt he excelled". One of these skills was "in discerning untruths, which had served him badly when he was a priest, (but) was invaluable in his role as detective". Another "insight that he had discovered while he was a priest (was) that he could get women to do things for him, and he used it ruthlessly, the benefits outweighed the associated guilt".
He has a "long, homely face" and "light, nondescript eyes .... In repose, his features suggested amused perplexity. He almost never blinked." He "appeared to be too esthetic for a policeman," and "had a quality of disingenousness". He was "the kind of man whom women felt compelled to mother" but persevered until "he found his answers in interminable bouts of interviewing witnesses and suspects".
C J Koehler began his career in journallsm and public relations before turning to writing novels of which he published only two, the last of them in 1996. He lives in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, where he is (I think) director of public relations for Mercury Marine. And that is all I could find out about him. If you can provide me with more information (and/or a photo) please get in touch via my guestbook.
This makes quite a strong story, although Ray's past as a priest (when he had "practiced .... ambivalence in theological matters") does not seem to influence him in any way, even if he still has a "long, sad, monastic face", and, according to Margaret, "the soul of a monk". He was "logical and methodical" and Margaret said that "his ecclesiastical background had made him a natural bureacrat". But it doesn't seem to offer him any inspiration or support. It is only the disturbed Philip who feels that he had received "Divine Inspiration. God had spoken to him in his dreams ...."
The psychiatry background seems well handled. As Lisa reminded herself, "The patient's insights are gold, the therapist's are dross." When Ray Koepp asks Lisa about "the kind of behaviour that might lead to serial killing", she explains, "A history of mistreatment of women or fantasies about assaulting women.Violence against animals. A fetish, like destroying women's clothes. Potential serial killers might have some kind of religious obsession - think God is speaking to them, for example." But she won't identify Philip even though she realises how well he fits the bill. Meanwhile she has to face up to the unpleasant fact that, "It was pathetic that someone who spent her days guiding people to better marital relationships could do nothing about her own."
There are convincingly detailed descriptions of such routine matters as DNA testing but Ray Koepp himself does not come across as a very real or sympathetic person. He and Margaret "had come to an agreement almost two years before that their exceptional compatability in their police work would be jeopardized if they developed a romantic attachment for each other". It makes him seem a very cold fish.
Mind Games (1996)
It is hard going, for as Margaret complains, “People don't volunteer anything. They seem to co-operate, but it is like they're circling the wagons to protect the group". And Ray's growing obsession with Karen Merrick, the married business manager to the community and one of the leading suspects, complicates the task. "She knows," he becomes sure, "She knows who killed him." Perhaps Ray would be better off with Margaret who at least doesn't “play mind games with other people".
Ray himself is not a very convincing ex-priest, as he never seems to have had any real religious feelings. The strength of the story is in its descriptions of investigators at work, but it is difficult to feel any close involvement as it is a slowly unfolding plot with little dramatic action. Ray is a tough and determined questioner, but not always a totally sympathetic character. He is quite prepared to lie, break all the regulations and even shoot someone if necessary. You can see why he never made it as priest.
A much more real character is the mountainous DA, Wagner, who “had made his presence felt throughout the restaurant, a condition he now amplified by moving his huge bulk between the tables of diners. Even though no one had to get out of his way, other men seemed to recede as he approached; he diminished everything around him. He caught the waitress's eye, which took no effort at all, and pointed a huge finger at a table in the corner which had been vacated recently. The pointing finger looked like a banana to Koepp." He might, I cannot help feel, have made a more interesting, and certainly more entertaining, lead character than poor Ray.
|The cover gives little idea of the content.|