Death of an Activist

When beautiful and iconoclastic activist Rose Smith is abducted and brutally murdered in the Amazon where she is working to prevent big oil from drilling on Indian lands, her former lover, investigative writer Ulyce Robideaux, sets out on a trans-continental journey to uncover the mystery behind her death. Unbeknownst to him, he will be drawn into a web of international intrigue at the highest levels, endangering his own life. Complicating matters is Marianne Popovich, who hoping to win Robideaux’s love, sets out on an odyssey of her own into Rose’s past, which will not only reveal the true motivation for Rose’s activism but explicate a critical and missing portion of her own life as well. From the rapidly changing world of the traditional Amazonian Indians to the corridors of power on the world stage where compromise and treachery are the name of the game in an ongoing quest for money and power, Death of an Activist is a fast paced examination of energy geopolitics and its place in the New World Order.

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Take notice George Smiley and Jack Ryan. There’s a new kid on the block. His name is Ulyce Robideaux. His sights aren’t set on this or that mid level villain but on the hidden movers behind so much disorder and suffering in today’s world.

The internet has exposed in almost real time, for all who have minds to think and eyes to see, the machinations of the fantastically rich and powerful yearning to accrue yet more riches and power by whatever means. Yesterday’s ridiculed conspiracy theories have become today’s respectable conspiracy facts. Yes, the ruling elite are indeed tirelessly conspiring to rob, kill and control. What are the West’s serial wars, grinding currency depreciation, corporate bailouts and relentless attacks on civil liberties if not high level conspiracies to enslave the many for the benefit of the few?

It is against this real world backdrop that L.S. Temmer casts her reluctant hero, cynical North American Indian writer, Ulyce Robideaux, on an odyssey to uncover the facts behind the disappearance in South America of the crusading activist, Rose Smith. Rose was working with an indigenous rain forest tribe to oppose yet another in a long history of land grabs by Western corporate interests when she was abducted and brutally murdered. With the assistance of his neighbor and girlfriend, Marianne, Robideaux discovers that philanthropic icons of impeccable social respectability aren’t really what they appear to be. The duo uncover a complex web of symbiotic ties persisting to the present, linking surviving members of the wartime O.S.S. to fugitive Nazi war criminals.

As they slowly sift through clues, Temmer’s couple assemble a disturbing jigsaw puzzle of attempts by some powerful players to exploit the coming oil shortages by ruthlessly conspiring to monopolize the mining and processing of the uranium needed to fuel nuclear power plants. Temmer employs her background in anthropological studies to weave a rich tapestry of exotic sights, sounds and beliefs. The story takes our protagonists from Toronto to New Mexico, South America, the Pacific northwest and finally to Manhattan. We learn as much about indigenous North American people’s art as we do about cornering energy markets.

Death of an Activist is not for those expecting a cartoonish Indian Rambo. It is instead a very well written, densely detailed novel for thinking readers who enjoy a challenging plot with a large cast of characters. Temmer’s villains aren’t Hollywood cardboard cutouts. They are living and breathing characters motivated, though perversely, beyond simple greed.

Death of an Activist resonates with current events. For that reason, I suspect that our troubled times will spawn many more stories of the adventures of Robideaux and Marianne.

Mickey Propadovich

As an inveterate reader of mysteries, I approached Death of an Activist with the usual expectations. So many mysteries are plot-driven: a reader can take only so many twists and turns, machinations, and maneuverings before they weary and exhaust the possibilities.

The best mysteries (to my mind) are character driven. That is not an easy feat to achieve in a book that bases its storyline on worldwide corporate greed and international intrigue. But Temmer succeeds in creating and developing characters that live and breathe in the real world, not just on the page nor just for the sake of the mystery. Robideaux, for one, is no superhero or superspy but the embodiment of a flesh-and-blood man with the strengths and foibles we all can learn to love. The reader develops an understanding of the complexity of these characters (even Rose, who is the dead activist!) and craves to know them better. What a delightful and wondrous way to begin a mystery series.

Joseph C. Senese