Moments in History

The debacle that was the 2024 election in the United States, which is now devolving into a garbage fire on considerable proportions, is an example of an inflection point in history.

For the Shmuley Myers universe, that was when Ralph Reed’s Moral Majority managed, in a lightning swoop, to pass the ill-fated constitutional amendment stating not only that life begins at conception, but also that citizenship is awarded at that time. Turning every non-live birth into a murder investigation, and triggering the kinds of anti-birth control, pro-taming and -controlling of women that even Margaret Atwood’s writings and the fantasies of religious extremists in the Philipines could not match.

I hope the American people veer from the absurdist Calvinist principles that have brought us to this precipice and embrace the idea that a plurality of views, religions, and mores beats the monolith of the fascism of the “majority” (or rich).

Armadillocon Approacheth!

September 6-8 are the dates for this awesome convention featuring slews of writers, their fans, and those interested in the business and practice of writing. Events include:

  • A critique workshop Friday morning, September 6th.
  • Panels on the sci-fi, fantasy, and horror genres, discussing writing methods, informative talks (such as the latest on what’s happening at NASA), comparing works from a genre, and, of course, silliness.
  • There’s a podcast “taped” at the event.
  • Authors will be reading from their books, which will also be for sale in the dealer room (along with an amazing used book collection)

For all details head out to And check out ongoing updates at their blog.

On Why Silence is Sometimes the Only Answer

The last eight months have been a slow-motion horror show for me. Between the horrifying massacre of Israelis in October and the brutal war that still follows, to watching the Israeli government slide toward totalitarianism and fascism — not to be outdone by the insanity that is the American 2024 election cycle — I’m left raw and empty. July 4th for me, this year, reminds me how far the country has slid from the idea of a United America that is celebrated “just like every year.”

The Shmuley Myers series is about murder: whodunnit, whydunnit, and all that. Seeing the hatred and violence playing out on the two stages I care about wears me down. Who wants to swim in the bloody seas of a murder investigation on top of all that reality?

I know Ukrainian authors who stopped writing some of their books because they were dark even before the Russian invasion. I didn’t understand it at the time, but, unfortunately, I do now.

The fourth book, A Measure of Mercy, touches on that quality. Yes, it’s a murder mystery, but not the glory of gory that can be part and parcel of that genre. There’s more loving and understanding enmeshed with the sadness brought on by violence smashing into a family.

I’ve picked up the (virtual) pen again, hoping I can inject, at least myself, with some recognition that Rachamim–mercy, not pity–will be my anodyne for the coming months.


A third state has another tie to bind a woman to a pregnancy ( Pregnant in Missouri and want a divorce? Nope, not until the baby is born. I mean, whose body is this, anyway? Keep in mind not all religions have the same laws regarding abortion. But freedom in the US is supposed to be unfettered by religion–it says so in the constitution. Actually, this law violates the 14th Amendment that ended slavery. Because a person disempowered from movement or freedom from violence is, indeed, enslaved.

Unintended Consequences and the Abuse of Corpses

An Ohio woman who miscarried a non-viable fetus stands charged of corpse abuse–of the fetus (see story: This is added to the increasingly blatant tricks used in states like Texas to ensure all pregnancies result in births, no matter the consequence to the fetus or mother.

The Shmuley Myers mysteries deal with the “law of the land” in this increasingly NOT an alternative history. To those not agreeing with what is not even Christian doctrine but instead a fringe desire to control women, the law is out to get you.

On Jewish Murder Mystery Authors

I’ve been asked about other murder mystery series. Most people know about the Rabbi David Small series by Harry Kemelman. I never connected to it, any more than I found Agatha Christie’s mysteries. My connection to the Jewish detective concept was actually due to Michael Chabon‘s brilliant “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union”, an alternate history tale set in Alaska. I found it more vibrant and police procedural than the dilettante detective concept.

One of my readers casually asked me recently if I’d read anything from Will Thomas. (No, I hadn’t.) I picked up the first book in his Barker & Llewelyn series, “Some Danger Involved,” and was immediately entranced. Thomas’ meticulous descriptions of Jewish customs and traditions set in and adapted for the 19th century. Sheer brilliance. If you like the Shmuley Myers series, Thomas’ dispassionate storytelling is compelling and now I have to spend more precious time plowing through the series.

The fourth novel in the Shmuley Myers series is being written, slowly. Name announcement and teaser to be revealed… anon.

Fictional Blood

In the opening scene of The Property of Blood there’s a scene at a primitivist Christian megachurch. Read the book to get details, but readers have commented about the different ways in which blood has been sacred. Here’s something from the NY Times that surprised me. It’s about Mrs. Vuolo, once a member of the overexposed Duggar family and its rather special brand of Christian belief. Full article here. ‘…As the credits rolled, the children performed a song onstage about the saving blood of Jesus, warbling, “Why should I not be put in hell to suffer for all time?”’

I’m always puzzled when these visions of violence are matched to the worship of someone seen as “representing “The Prince of Peace.”

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving. Be safe.

And Now… Excerpt from The Property of Blood

Finally, the upcoming novel! I made my last edits while on an Alaska cruise, “enjoying” COVID symptoms as I finished with the last scenes. Caught a lot of interesting glaciers, all in retreat or dissolution, helped in part by the ship’s massively polluting engines. I wasn’t going to walk from Texas to see it, so…it was the way to go.

A shout-out to Grammarly for giving my editor a run for his money on the ticklish grammar. (Robin comes out way ahead, given the tricky “Shmuley-speak” of the narrator’s sentence construction.) The last piece in the way is the dust jacket. For some reason, this one’s harder to get down than the first two. But I Shall Prevail. Still looking for a publish date in early October.

Buy A Day at the Zoo

Buy A Question of Allegiance

Without further ado, here’s the excerpt:

The scene, from where I stood on the steps of the Followers of Faith Christian Church, looked like the petting zoo of a serial killer. As a Haredi—ultra-Orthodox Jew raised in a Yiddish-speaking neighborhood—this was like watching aliens land. But for an APD homicide detective, the overtime pay was enough to buy a whole week of food. So, keeping peace at a church event was something I would suffer. Hopefully, no one would give me work for mine real job: homicide detective.

On top of the church, at mine back, flew a flag, green and gold in four quarters on a shield, with three purple lambs going across it at a diagonal. Didn’t see this before in the church. You should have it on a flag or something. Like an American flag at a used car dealership it waved, so big it was. Like the church building itself big.

Families disgorged from cars at the far side of a long oval driveway, which circled a bright green grass lawn, each in clothing fancy, as if for services. Not Subsid clothing could I see in the mass.

People walked from there to a fenced pen. Dozens of baby sheep inside it wandered in a broken chorus, crying for their mothers. When not eating the lawn. Their last supper. The smell of manure came and went on the breeze. Already there must have been five thousand people. The event, as listed, said they expected ten. Where outside all those people would fit I wasn’t sure. Certainly not on the grass, which into quarters was split, with clear spaces between for ambulances or police vehicles to quickly get inside the crowd.

A main street ran beyond the driveway. All around the church were low, sooty cement Subsid apartments. All alike, except only with different graffiti on them. The bright spring morning only showed the buildings off with more squalor. Mine grandparents told us stories of before the Amendment, when the president was Nixon. When families could be as small as they wanted. Before being pregnant and not having a baby was murder. Before, when people had things to take or use so as not more babies to bring into the world. Before Subsid became living a life when not enough for people there were jobs. Before the Preborn Investigation Bureau—the PIB—and its investigations of what was in sewers to tell of pregnancy. Before GodMother inquisitions for miscarriage. PIBniks, fech.

The church was like an egg in a nest of sticks. A colossal bubble rising, with columns like Greek temple columns all around it. Below the flag, a cross bloomed at the dome’s crown. Fancier by far than the State Capitol building. Almost exactly like a British royal orb it looked. Only greenish, from the copper roof. And tinged with the soot that covered everything, eventually.

Many of the men in the in the crowded swirl were dressed in white, thin robes with a fabric strip to tie it shut. Exactly like our Jewish kittels. Only on some holidays we wore them—and were in them buried, instead of in a coffin.

I adjusted mine police hat, then tugged at mine service belt. A little tight on me it was. Tight enough to keep mine equipment from falling down. As a detective sergeant in APD’s homicide squad, this for me wasn’t mine usual dress.

“Bored, Shmuley?”

Lieutenant JJ Dawson above me towered by a foot. Mine uniform was just tight; his was custom for him fit. On his face a smile flickered. Dawson was for us detectives the mother hen. Also, our slave driver—and the backup we needed sometimes against the Austin Police Department’s bureaucracy.

“This uniform makes me itch,” I said. Thanks to the Religious Freedom Act, mine usual “uniform” was more traditional: black felt hat with a hatband (no feather, please), black jacket, pants, and shoes. And a white shirt, collar open. Under mine hat a black fabric yarmulke. And under mine shirt a fringed undershirt. Both reminders that we were, from other religions different and held to a high standard. “The penguin suit,” mine mostly charming squad mates called it.

“Welcome to my world.” Lieutenants wore mostly dress uniforms. For all their important meetings to go to. After a moment, down the steps he went to make a circuit. He, like me, was for overtime pay working, so it wasn’t like now he was mine boss.

In the line of parishioners, the men in the families passed money or Subsid vouchers to a man in a white robe with on his head a flat, round, white hat, like a tambourine. A priest, maybe? The priest to the husband or oldest boy gave a small white box.

From the top of the steps I took a break and walked down to the front, near the animals. Nearby was Michael Midas, another Austin homicide detective. Aka, the Golden Boy. With blond hair, too.

He nodded at the zoo. “Do you have this ceremony at Jewish churches too, Myers?”

“We call them synagogues, actually,” I, with a smile, took the sting off the correction. “We ultra-Orthodox Jews, I mean. But no. This is new for me. Is this something your church does?”

His head he shook. “Nah, we just have prayer services a couple of times a week, and a big one on Sunday. Easter’s a longer service, at dawn. This is one of those churches that tries to do things the old biblical way, but for rich folks. Kind of fundamentalists.”

I didn’t know. Not mine biblical way, for sure.

“Although,” he continued, “I’m thinking maybe we won’t have lamb chops this year.”

A bleat came from the large, fenced pen. Three baby sheep got somehow their heads together and tangled in the fencing. A couple of the teenagers, their boots shmeared with animal dung, trotted over to save them from themselves.

Excerpt: A Day at the Zoo

This is the first of three excerpt posts for the Shmuley Myers books. Today, showcasing “A Day at the Zoo.” I’m presenting them first, as there’s a sale on both of my books during July!

The @Smashwords sale is part of their Annual Summer/Winter Sale. Be sure to follow me for more updates and links to the promotion for my books and many more! #SWSale2023 #Smashwords

Buy A Day at the Zoo

Buy A Question of Allegiance

Below is an excerpt from AD@tZ:

The image of a phone on mine desk slab glowed. I tapped it. “Homicide, Detective Myers.” The two weeks of progress reports on cases that, collectively, said “nothing new,” slid to the corner of the desktop vid. In the cube farm around me the day shift collectively oozed into the homicide squad room, coalescing from the cold, winter rain.

“New hat, Detective?” Inquisitor Jethro Waters of the Preborn Investigation Bureau smiled from the screen up at me. Red hair, green eyes. The first time we’d met, a leprechaun he’d said he was. I hadn’t known they so tall grew. “Everything’s bigger in Texas,” was what he’d said back.

“Yes. And thank you, Inquisitor.” I touched it. Black felt, of course, with the requisite black band, sans feather. Part of the uniform mine counterpart in the GodForce, now on-screen, quaintly called mine “eternal penguin outfit.” Mine religion demanded modesty, which was to wear black pants, a white shirt and undershirt, a tsitsis shirt with on its end fringes, a yarmulke, and a hat. To each a fashion burden of their own. “What can I do for the GodForce this morning?”

Jethro flatly looked at me. Usually a smile he plastered on his freckled face. It went well with the red hair and for getting perps to talk a charm it worked. “Not a social visit, I’m afraid. We caught a two-gen this morning at a zoo.”

A mother and a fetus. “Human, I gather?” “Funny,” he said dourly. He looked drained.

I made a mental note to ask Chaya mine wife to ask his wife if anything was wrong. Wrong beyond his job. “Where and when?”

“This morning. At the Cameron Zoo in Waco. You know, the one with the big kids’ zoo?” he added seeing mine puzzling over that. Side effect of not yet having kids: not knowing all the kid places.


“Yeah. It’s a bit far from Austin. But our office is lead on the case, and you’re my liaison. Dallas and Fort Worth are all tied up, and Temple’s got their hands full with the food riots up in Killeen and the base.” I pulled up mine hat high enough for mine forehead to scratch.

Which was higher, mine youngest brother of the seven of us, informed me, than a year ago. “Okay. You picking me up?”

“I’ll be out front in ten minutes.”

“Should I have APD send a Forensics unit up as well?”

“Nah,” Jethro said. “The locals say they’ll handle all that. ‘Less y‘all got extra budget?”

“Gut,” I said. “Because we don’t.”

“‘Good,’ Shmuley, the word is ‘good.’ Your Yiddish is showing.”

I felt the blush add to the body heat from mine clothing layers. “Chaya and I were just out of town on a shabbaton. It’s like a religious retreat? I don’t know that I spoke a word even of English the whole time.”

“Well remember, you can always practice your American on me.” And with that, he faded from the desktop and mine virtual pile of paperwork reclaimed its space. I brushed it off into mine electronic filing cabinet and got up.

Austin got cold, sometimes. Nothing like up north, but between the rain and the temperature, mine wool coat was a welcome weight on mine shoulders. I walked over to the lieutenant’s desk. Actually just another cube in the maze. “Heading out with Blessed Right Inquisitor Waters on a case in Waco.”

J.J. Dawson’s polished light brown dome glistened in the industrial light as he lifted his head up from some real-paper paperwork. Paper: sometimes it was like in the last century mine lieutenant was working in. “Bored in town?”

I shrugged. “GodForce liaison case.”

He grunted. “You do a lot of work for them. And you’ve got a case load we pay you for. Looking to transfer?”

I laughed. “No.” No one into GodForce voluntarily transferred. Only into it were drafted young Saved men or women. Sure, some fanatics signed up. Or hungry people. “APD gets paid by the PIB for my liaison services, you know.”

Another grunt. “Are you taking a car?” “No, Jethro’s picking me up.”

“Good,” he said. “Copy me on the report.”

I nodded and headed for the elevators. I used the buffed metal reflection to pull mine shirt cuffs from mine jacket, and then the jacket out from the coat, and arrange the four sets of tsitsis fringes coming out from under mine shirt so they wouldn’t in mine holster tangle. Meh, close enough to good.

In the hallway I waited for the elevator. After the 1970s constitutional amendment making citizens officially from conception, every woman was a potential murderer when their pregnancy didn’t turn into a baby. A year later, the FBI had an ugly stepbrother in the Preborn Investigation Bureau—usually called GodForce.

When to that added not letting women not get pregnant…well, for GodForce there always was business. Between every fetus as a real person treated like, and all the real people now the whole earth crowding, mine homicide detective career was busy.

I waded through a crowd of thin, pinched-looking people dressed in layers of Subsid-wear. They were either protesting an arrest or for food looking to rob someone. I kept to the sides of the ground floor atrium and went out the front doors.

Outside, the air was a wet, cold blanket. Mine wool coat quickly with mist-beaded, tiny glistening pearls. The GodForce cruiser sat by the curb. People a wide berth they gave it as they streamed in and out of police headquarters. Afraid of contamination. Maybe guilty a little feeling. I walked up to the open passenger door. A GodMother sat in the back, primly buckled up in the seat behind Jethro. I nodded to her and got in, putting mine hat in mine lap and flattening down mine kippah. Chaya joked that I was getting near bald enough to need a thumbtack to keep it in place, instead of bobby pins.

“Detective Myers, let me introduce you to our GodMother Inquisitor, Mary Elizabeth, a Sister of Raquel. She’s assigned to this case.”

“Call me Shmuley,” I said, at her nodding. “Detective,” she intoned.

Okay then. I smiled at her. “Any more info other than ‘dead woman in the zoo?’”

“An unborn and a mother, Detective,” the GodMother said. She was a middle-aged Hispanic woman whose wimple swallowed her head. “That is all that concerns me.”

“Vehicle, route for the Waco Zoo,” Jethro to the car said. “Lights and sirens in traffic.”

“Acknowledged,” the car said, and made its GodForce distinctive “bwip-bwip” noise pulling away from the curb. Traffic parted for us like a school of fish from a shark scattering.

Check in next week for the next excerpt!