BOOKS & STUFF

As you might know, we held Erika’s memorial service on Nov. 14. We wanted it to be a celebration of who Erika was. What a tribute to our beautiful daughter to have so many take time from their busy lives to attend her memorial. We have no way to properly thank everyone, but we do want to mention the wonderful care we received from Schmidt & Schulta Funeral Home, Pastor Wes Jedras and Pastor Les Munnik. The meal and service at Chet & Emil’s was perfect! I’m proud to be surrounded by such a caring community. Thank you, all.

This wasn’t much of a week for reading, but I did squeeze in a very short e-book. “Two Tocks Before Midnight” by Clay Boutwell was listed as something that could be read in two sessions, but it only took a couple of hours.

In 1859, the Boston-based Agora Society was a small, exclusive group. The members met each Monday precisely at 6 p.m. to discuss a wide range of topics. Among the members were an expert in papyrus and ancient writing, Christopher Harding; an expert in ancient weaponry, Thomas Phillips; an expert in arcane languages, Charles Tock; and an expert in Near Eastern languages, narrator Carl Brooke.

In 1889, Brooke decided to share the details of the tragic events that revolved around Oct. 24, 1859. One of the Agora Society’s members, Charles Tock, had been absent for some time when he suddenly reappeared with a man he introduced as Joseph. They presented what they said was a recently discovered biblical document known as “The Book of Jasher.”

At first, they believe it is genuine, but closer examination shows several errors. Charles is less disappointed than Carl Brooke expected, but leaves with the document in hand. Not long afterward, they get word that a Book of Jasher has been purchased by a nearby museum. Fearing it’s a forgery, they check it out. It is the same document with some corrections.

Soon they must alert all area collectors and museums about the potential scam. But when they try to contact Charles and Joseph, they find a nonexistent address. Where was Charles? Who was Joseph, and how was he connected with Charles Tock?

When Carl Brooke arrives to open the building for their meeting, he sees Thomas Phillips already on the doorstep. The two enter the room and find Charles Tock hanging from the rafters. It is obvious that this wasn’t suicide as there is a note saying “Two Tocks Before Midnight.”

The police gladly accept Brooke’s insights into the mysterious note as well as information about the forgeries and the man called Joseph. Carl has had his suspicions for some time but needs to carefully build an airtight way of trapping the killer. To his disappointment, two men die before he can spring the trap.

When confronted, the killer denies everything. After all, he’d been with the group the entire evening and couldn’t have committed the murders. When Carl Brooke reveals how the crimes were carried out, the killer panics and escapes through a broken window and is never seen again.

Yet, for nearly 30 years Brooke receives a mysterious card every Oct. 24. Try as he might, he’s never able to find out where they were sent from or exactly who was sending them. Then one day a visitor delivers a letter and the mystery is finally solved.

This book was more proof that you don’t have to dedicate days and days to reading. Some books can be enjoyed in only a few hours. Your public library has lots of quick reads available. If that’s what you need, just stop by and check it out.