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THE AUTHOR (a two-volume set)
THE AUTHOR
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Robert gives an overview of the book:

Carefully wending his way up the Eastern seaboard, Malcolm Columba is not your garden variety serial killer.  When two dissimilar murders occur on Long Island, preceding another in Old Town, Maine, two seasoned Suffolk County homicide detectives note certain similarities that carry the killer’s signature.  The investigation leads authorities to believe that they have an eco-terrorist on their hands, punishing those deemed responsible for environmental pollution, claiming the lives of their loved ones in retaliation.             But a more compelling mystery surrounds the antagonist as factions within federal, state, and local governments look the other way in the interest of national security; namely, certain members of the Justice Department, the FBI, key Albany bureaucrats, as well as corrupt police officials.  Additionally, a Mafia don and his crew work the...
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Carefully wending his way up the Eastern seaboard, Malcolm Columba is not your garden variety serial killer.  When two dissimilar murders occur on Long Island, preceding another in Old Town, Maine, two seasoned Suffolk County homicide detectives note certain similarities that carry the killer’s signature.  The investigation leads authorities to believe that they have an eco-terrorist on their hands, punishing those deemed responsible for environmental pollution, claiming the lives of their loved ones in retaliation.

            But a more compelling mystery surrounds the antagonist as factions within federal, state, and local governments look the other way in the interest of national security; namely, certain members of the Justice Department, the FBI, key Albany bureaucrats, as well as corrupt police officials.  Additionally, a Mafia don and his crew work the parameters.

            The penultimate hour reveals that Malcolm Columba, serial killer extraordinaire, is the “Father of the Federation,” that is, author and architect of an operation that safely places agents of the Bureau within the ranks of extremist groups around the globe, made possible via a wealthy industrialist’s powerful connections.  By murdering the magnate—Columba’s quintessential target—the psychopath has suddenly become expendable; however, it takes an unlikely vigilante with a vengeance to find the madman in a race to the finish.

            Charged with Columba’s murder, in addition to others for which he is being framed, Justin Barnes, a protagonist with a single-minded purpose, eventually seeks out (with help from the maverick’s scintillating associate, Jacqueline Rubino, along with a handful of Suffolk County’s rogue detectives) and ultimately destroys a relentless sinister force hellbent on securing an encoded document that promises to imperil the hegemony of a nation: ours.

 Editor’s noteThe Author is the second in a series of four novels portraying Justin Barnes; it is the prequel to The Teacher, first published in June, 2006.

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Eastern Long Island was enjoying a mild winter well into the middle of January.  However, as the weatherman had warned, a steady cold spell suddenly swept the area, fathering freezing temperatures that would long be remembered to mark the new millennium.

            Aboard a Sunrise Express bus bound for New York City, a young woman sat reading a current paperback novel.  She was particularly pretty, casually but neatly dressed.  The man sitting across the aisle from her duly noted that fact—as with the others he had pursued—although the newspapers throughout several states had used the word, stalked.

            Wendy caught him staring and curled a corner of her mouth into a snide rebuff, lowering her dark eyes back to the thriller.  The Suffolk Community College freshman first noticed him when she boarded in Aquebogue.  That he noticed her, too, would be an understatement, for Malcolm had been watching her for months.  It was the first time she had seen him en route—or elsewhere, for that matter.  There was nothing out of the ordinary about the man, or she certainly would have moved toward the rear of the crowded coach.  Complacently, she took the aisle seat alongside two middle-aged women: one in a state of semiconsciousness; the other, nearest the window, absorbed in her crossword puzzle.

            Perfect, she thought.  To read and be left alone.

            Malcolm chastised himself, fighting off the urge to stare or even steal a tiny glance.  There will be plenty of time for that later, Wendy, he absolutely thrilled at the event on the horizon.  But first, the boat show at the Javits Center.

            He knew her middle and last name, too.  He could hardly wait to hear it on radio and TV—savor it in the local papers, as well as the Long Island edition of the mainstream press.  Perhaps even stand before the student’s headstone someday . . . her full name chiseled into the polished granite gravestone in the cemetery off of John Street in Riverhead.

            Maybe even touch it!

Wendy Anne Linden

1982–2000

            Malcolm pictured it clearly in his tortured mind.

            Yes.

            Wendy’s name engraved just beneath her maternal grandmother’s.

            But he was getting way ahead of himself.

            God, how he wanted to sneak a single peek anew.  He could barely contain himself, oblivious to the elderly man’s head lolling against his right shoulder.

            The bus driver had navigated the big machine toward the curb when the passenger seated next to Malcolm suddenly came alive, apologizing with embarrassment before turning his attention to the small group gathered along the sidewalk, forming a single line.  The young men and women moved forward impatiently, shivering just beyond the cold, frosty window, which the octogenarian wiped clear with the back of a blue-wool gloved hand.

            Malcolm kept his eyes dead ahead, momentarily rapt in the snake-like hiss as the driver applied the air brakes, bringing the bus to a full stop in front of a Hess station across from the Peconic Diner on Route 58.  Several bundled-up teenage girls quickly boarded, immediately followed by their boyfriends.  The driver’s assistant asked one young man for a name and the number of people in his party, then checked them off the charter listing.

            It was 8:15 a.m.  The bus was already fifteen minutes behind schedule.

            Malcolm returned his thoughts to Wendy.  She was a slow but careful reader.  She would take at least a month to finish a book, though he knew she had not another day left to finish anything, save her last meal.  He had watched her several times in the New York Public Library, then once on a train—absorbed in a single passage upon the page.  Focused.  Turning the writer’s words over carefully in her mind.  Tunneling through his world . . . heedfully.  Yes.  Savoring the flavor of the author’s state of mind.  Smiling or furrowing her brow skeptically before moving ahead in the chapter.  Of course, Malcolm could quote the novelist’s prose chapter and verse, if pressed.  Oh, she would be very impressed with him, he felt quite sure.

            He had met many young women that way.  First, by casually asking them what they thought of this book or that.  How they either loved or loathed a particular character.  If he spied a perspective candidate reading a novel that he had not devoured, and wanted to impress her next time out, he would plow through the tome in a single evening and be ready to discuss any aspect of the book; from the writer’s style, to character development.  And if he were talking to a dummy, he would home in on her limited interest concerning the passage that simply grossed her out, or the part that she found positively groovy; even awesome!  But if he found a truly bright one, he would shyly offer commentary on structure, syntax, theme and underlying motifs.

            Once, he invested two nights reading Nin, and was quite prepared to impress a pretty NYU student.  The only problem was that he never saw the young woman again.  He had observed her on the subway for two semesters before she suddenly disappeared.  Where?  He had been absolutely furious with both her and himself.  For a nanosecond, Malcolm thought that his colleague, Clarence Emery, might have snatched her.  But that would have been tantamount to the United States of America betraying Saudi Arabia.

            Ludicrous.

            Wendy, in many ways, reminded him of that graduate student.  Aloof.  Self-assured.  Full of herself.  Oh, she’d soon curl and crease more than just a corner of her mouth in abrupt rejection if not repulsion, he promised himself, for she would experience—firsthand—the means and methods the author literally employed in writing off his victims.  Nonfiction at its finest.

            Malcolm Columba looked up at one of the blank overhead TV monitors, projecting a movie of his own in his mind—excitedly envisioning several unspeakable scenes upon the screen.  On it, Wendy Anne Linden was shivering hysterically, pleading with her abductor to simply end her torment, knowing that he would never let her go . . . grasping and understanding completely . . . gasping in the icy cold night air as she felt it firmly grip her entire being—until she could feel no more.

            Numb.

            Anything but dumb was the pretty young coed seated just across the aisle.

            The mystery thriller Miss Wendy Anne Linden was engrossed in would not come close to the terror she would soon experience.  Although, outsiders looking in—at first glance—might see the whole affair as anticlimactic.

            Malcolm’s mind tingled with anticipation.

            Just one quick look.

            No, he scolded himself.

robert-banfelder's picture

Note from the author coming soon...

About Robert

Robert Banfelder grew up in Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey, a rural community where he enjoyed hunting and fishing. Robert currently lives on the North Fork of Long Island with his lifelong partner, Donna, where they both enjoy outdoor adventures. He is the proud parent of Jason...

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Published Reviews

Mar.31.2008

Ah, the master of suspense thrillers returns with a fast-paced and terrifying story that will chill you to the bone, even on the hottest day of the year. Banfelder brilliantly creates each unthinkable...

Mar.31.2008

This is one of the best books I have read this year! Robert Banfelder is a masterful, storyteller, who has written a fantastic, and terrifying tale about evil and what it takes to stop it!