Prolific Author Richard Rhys Jones Does It Again! Latest Book ‘The Sisterhood Of The Serpent’ A Page-Turner, Due Out Soon, Highlight Hollywood News

reg-jones
Highlight Hollywood has exclusively confirmed that the latest book by famed European author Richard Rhys Jones is titled “The Sisterhood of the Serpent,” and we can assure you that it’s definitely a page turner, which hopefully will become a best seller.   Jones is one of the world’s best authors, and has a cult-following that knows his books are filled with fantasy, excitement and people devour them as soon as they arrive.

The author gives Highlight Hollywood readers a sneak peek into the pages, and the official Prologue can be read below.   This is one of the best books by this author and of this genre.  Hopefully with the holidays coming up, you’ll also be smart enough to add to your stocking stuffers!
 sisterhood of the serpent

“You wanted to see me, my son?” the clergyman asked softly. He was young, and Jim could see the emotional weight of his duties had taken a toll on his youthful features. Slight, intense, with a side parting in his orderly, dark hair and a tweed jacket straight out of a schoolmaster’s outfitters, he looked to Jim to have all the religious authority of a senior choirboy, with probably about half the experience.

“Yes, thank you Father, come in come in, this could take some time,” Jim said, indicating the chair for him to sit down.

The holy man hesitated before entering the tiny cell, and Jim smiled inwardly at his uncertainty. Jim Gregory, an eight-year veteran of Death Row, had always known there would be an edge of awkwardness to their first meeting so he wasn’t surprised. He just hadn’t reckoned with such timidity in a prison padre after the blood and guts firebrand before him.

 

Having just been given the news that all his appeals had run out, and that the State had set the date for his execution, Jim decided now would be a good time to speak to the new prison padre, who had been in the job precisely ten days. The old one, a religious fascist from Alabama who cursed more than a company of infantry and probably drank more too, had died two weeks previously. For that reason they were both in an unfamiliar situation with no experience to guide them. Jim, with all hope of a reprieve now bankrupt; and the padre, meeting a man looking certain death in the eye, for the first time.

 

“Don’t worry Father, I’m going to need all the help I can get when I get to the other side, so you’re safe with me,” Jim said, smiling to put him at ease. The padre smiled back nervously and stole a glance at the silent guard who had accompanied him before sitting down.

“So what can I do for you my son?”reg-jones2

Jim, who thought it strange to be addressed as “my son” by someone who looked half his age, smiled tiredly and reached behind him to pull out a large envelope.

“I want to tell someone my side of the story.”

The guard, a tattooed bull of a man with a Fort Bragg buzz cut and blonde Mexican moustache, stood up on seeing the envelope and wordlessly sauntered in to take it. As it was sealed, he barked, “What’s in it, open it up so I can see.”

“They never say please here, you noticed that Father?” Jim said unsealing the envelope and giving it to the guard. He pulled the contents out and spread them out on the bed. It was sheets of handwritten notes. After giving them a once over, he turned to the padre and said, “You’ll have to have this cleared by the warden.”

“I’ll make sure I do that then,” the padre answered politely, taking the envelope and putting the pages back in. The guard nodded with a grunt, and then looked at his walkie-talkie as it crackled unintelligibly. Pulling it from the clip on his belt, he growled impatiently into it.

“What, where, what happened?”

More inarticulate squawking from the radio, and he nodded.

“I’ll be right there.”

Jim and the padre looked at each other, and then to the guard as he said:

“I have to go, there’s been a fire in one of the blocks and a whole bunch of Costa Ricans are making a break for it. Padre, this guy’s alright, he won’t do anything stupid, so you can stay if you want? I’m going to have to lock you both in together though. He’ll be cuffed to his bed so nothing could happen even if he wanted it to. Are you alright with that?” And then, after seeing the worry in the young priest’s face, he added, “Or you can come with me, either way, I have to go.”

Standing, the padre said:

“If it’s all the same with you Mr. Gregory, I’ll go now, I’ll come back next week sometime.”

“Father, please, I need to talk to someone,” Jim pleaded, standing to address him. “I really need to get this off my chest, and I promise you, after you’ve heard what I have to say you’ll know why I’d never hurt a man of the cloth.”

Looking to the guard, who gave a curt nod as if confirming it’ll be alright, he said, “Okay, I’ll stay then.” Though Jim could see he wasn’t happy about it.

The guard handcuffed Jim to his bed, turned and gave a nod for the door to be locked again.

“I won’t be long father, and Jim here’s alright, he won’t do anything. You be good now Jim, you hear?” he said, his granite features stern despite the faux-motherly phrasing of the command. Then he wordlessly marched off to herd up the escapees.

Sitting back down, the padre sat back and crossed his legs.

“So, um, where were we?”

Jim puffed out his cheeks.

“Thanks Father, I appreciate it.” The clergyman nodded and Jim started straight in. “Basically I need to tell my side of the story, as unbelievable as it is.”

“You’ve already done that to the judge, there’s not a lot I can do but help guide you through the, well, through your last days. Why not give it to your lawyer?”

“My lawyer doesn’t know about it, he’s a friend of the family, my side of the family, and I know he’ll show my father what’s inside. I don’t want that.” Registering the confusion on the padre’s face he elaborated. “Ma and Pa were never happy with me marrying Jane, my first wife. She was, how can I put this, a bit too freaky for them?”

“Oh”, the padre answered, nodding.

“Well anyway, if they did read it, it’d just make matters worse for them. It’s very out of the ordinary, to say the least,” he explained, a mental image of his parents floating before his eyes. His father a successful engineer from an old New England family who could supposedly trace their heritage back to Plymouth Rock, and his mother the daughter of a respected Boston lawyer, strong on faith and family values. Both had loved him dearly and invested heavily in his future with their care and money. The case against their only son had left them stricken and reeling as it unfolded like a hungry, waking spider before them. The speed of the indictment had brutally ambushed them, ejecting them from the normality of their lives and concussing them with the dreadfulness of the crimes.

Looking at the envelope, the padre asked:

“Well, I don’t know your family, but I can imagine that when you’re, er, when you move on, they’ll probably treasure your memory, and be happy to know about your life with your first wife.”

“Padre, no, believe me, I love my parents, but I did some things that will only hurt and confuse them if they know about it.”

Nodding at the floor before looking up, the padre asked:

“What sort of bad things, anything you want off your chest, between you and God? It helps, I’m told.”

“Well, that’s exactly what I want, Padre. I want a fair hearing from the man upstairs, that’s all. No publicity, no lawyers, just him listening to me through you. Can you do that?” Jim’s voice was calm, but a slight tick under his left eye flickered into life as he spoke.

The padre nodded, and said solemnly “Yes, I can do that. But tell me, why the envelope?”

“Father, when I tell you my story, you’re not going to believe me. I hardly believed what happened myself, and you’ll probably have to call your boss, so I put it all down on paper so he can read it. I don’t want a retrial, I just want the church to hear my side of the story and pray for me when I’m gone. I honestly don’t know if there’s a god up there, I could be making a big mistake, but I have to try and make him hear me; does that make sense to you?” The padre nodded silently, so Jim continued: “But I must warn you, it isn’t nice, and I’m not proud of what happened. It’s just that I never meant to do any harm and it all turned out so bad.” The old saying about the road to hell being paved with good intentions drifted in and out of his thoughts, but he said nothing and waited for the holy man to respond.

Sitting forward and resting his elbows on his knees, the prison padre looked at him intently. All trace of the earlier edginess now gone, he was back in control.

“Try me, Mister Gregory, I’m a lot tougher than I look.”

Jim chuckled a little before saying:

“Call me Jim, Father. Only two people have ever called me James, and nobody calls me Mr. Gregory anymore.”

“Ok, I will Jim.”

“Well, where do I start?” Jim said, frowning profoundly. “Jane, my first wife. Oh man, how she would spit on me right now if she could see me chatting here, all nice and cosy with a man of the cloth. She hated the church.”

“Oh why, was she an atheist?”

“Yeah, you could say that, though I thought, as the saying around here goes, it was a crock of horse shit, pardon my French. She was in a cult in Colorado, not far from the Springs. Sort of Devil worshippers, she told me all sorts of crazy things about them. After her time there, she just went off religion in general. They were busted, well their leader was, on tax fraud charges in ’77; that’s when I met her. She ran away from them after the raid to taste some real life.”

Nodding while sitting back, the padre frowned and asked:

“So, you are what, an atheist too?”

“No, not me, I’m Christian through and through, Irish Catholic upbringing, on my ma’s side; and more than ever now I’m in here.”

“I’ve never been called to your cell before, sorry, I just didn’t know.”

“It’s okay Father, you’re right, I sort of did my own form of worship, it’s hard to explain. I’ll just stick to the background of what’s in the envelope, the rest will just take too long.”

“That’s fine, take your time, I have all day.”

Pensively rubbing his mouth and chin as he collected his thoughts, Jim nodded quickly and started again.

“Well, as I said, we met and I fell instantly in love. She was beautiful, long blond hair, a real pretty face and legs, Padre, legs up to her head,” he smiled at the thought, a faraway look in his eyes. “But she was missing something, she’d been too long in the company of her strange friends I suppose. A man can overlook that in a woman. We’re so convinced we’re above them that as long as they look good, and do right by us in the sack and kitchen, then it’s all hunky dory, but it wasn’t.”

“In what way?” the padre butted in.

“Oh, she’d get depressed, and then angry, man she had a temper. She was really hateful when she wanted to be, as I found out later. Anyway, we married in haste in January ’78, and I repented in leisure as they say. Six months after the wedding, I came home to find the police at our place. I was just finishing at law school at the time, and though my ma and pa didn’t approve of Jane, they accepted her into the family and paid for us to have a good home not far from where I was studying in Boulder. Anyway, as I was saying, I came back and the place was full of cops, it seemed that Jane had attacked our neighbour with some hedge clippers and hurt him badly. She was taken away and after a very quick batch of tests, they said she was insane and a danger to the public.”

“I’m sorry to hear that Jim.”

“Yeah, I was too. Anyway, she went to court and was put in a mental institute. I visited when I could, but I was young and she was growing more and more depressed and violent, throwing things at me when I visited, hitting me when she wasn’t in a strait jacket, it was a terrible time. I was 27, had just found a job with a law firm and the world was at my feet, and yet my crazy wife was spitting and cursing me every time I went to visit. Then one day, one of the senior partners told me it would be better for me to divorce her, as I’d never be a partner with an insane wife, and so I did.”

Jim looked up to the padre for a reaction, a judgement, but none was forthcoming. Instead he nodded for him to go on.

“Okay, well I had a hard time dealing with that, it was pretty shitty. Jane had nobody, except for a brother in the Sheriff’s department, who wanted nothing to do with her, and a mom who was just as crazy as she was, and I was just going to leave her on her own in the institute. I left it a bit, and then decided not to visit Jane to see how that felt, and it felt OK. I realised I’d been dreading the weekly visits because of all the hate and violence, you know? So when the second week came around, I just didn’t go again. One month later I filed for divorce.” He paused and bent down to his handcuffed hands to scratch his eye where the tick periodically flickered. The padre waited patiently for him to continue.

“Anyway, I filed for divorce, the senior partner told me I’d done the right thing and I beat my conscience into submission. The funny thing is, my ma still visited her, even after I’d filed, but that’s how she was. I don’t think she ever forgave me for giving up on Jane for my career, but that’s by the by. So, where were we, ah, yeah, skip to 1981, and I’m at the Oasis Queen in Vegas.”

“The hotel that burnt down?”

“Yeah, that’s the one, you know about that?”

Nodding, the padre said:

“Of course, biggest news around here at the time, I was in school back then. You were there?” he thought back to the fire that had destroyed one of the diamonds of the desert, as the reporter on the local television station had called the hotels and casinos that make up the main strip in Vegas. Over a hundred people lost, he remembered, taken by a fire that had started in the kitchens and swept through the lobby and casino like a Mongol horde through Asia. There had been an outcry about fire alarms and smoke detectors not working, but that turned out to be sensationalist reporting and wishful thinking by insurance firm lawyers looking for a way to not have to cover the cost of the damage. They had rebuilt over the ruins and opened another hotel, what was the name…? He couldn’t remember, he hadn’t been in the city for a while now, and gambling had never been his vice; unless you counted the Thursday evening Bingo games in the church house? Jim spoke and brought him back to the present.

Smiling tiredly, he said:

“Yes sir, I was there and you’re not going to believe this, I was there when the fire happened.” Suddenly the smile faded, “And so was Jane. I woke up and she was in my bed, God knows how she got in, pardon me Father. She’d escaped the day before and, I don’t know how, but she found out where I was, stole a room key from one of the cleaners and broke into my room. I literally woke up to find her sleeping next to me.”

“Oh my,” the padre whispered. “How did she do that?”

“I don’t know, but it gets worse. I asked her what was she doing in the room, and she got all angry and said she knew that I wanted a divorce and had just come to see if it was true. It was about then I realised I could hear the sirens. I saw smoke though the window and asked her what was going on? You see, I thought she’d started a fire somehow. Anyway, we opened the doors and went on the balcony. It overlooked the casino area of the hotel, and the place was burning! I mean, there was smoke everywhere, and the flames were so high, I was just too shocked to even think about arguing with Janey anymore. We were only four or five floors up so the heat from the fire in the casino was something fierce, so I went back inside. Anyway, she looks down at the fire and asks me if I knew she was promised to the Great Serpent? I didn’t hear her properly, I was panicking and telling her we had to get out, I told her to come back inside and she just jumped into the fire, just like that!”

“No!” the padre gasped, sitting up. “She killed herself? What did you do?”

“What could I do, I was numb, it all happened so quick, maybe five minutes from me waking up to her throwing herself of the balcony. I ran and looked down but I couldn’t see her.”

“What happened then? Was this Great Serpent, Satan?”

“I’ll get to that Padre, but to cut a long story short, I got out of the hotel, which is another yarn in itself, and went to the police. I told them my wife had escaped from the institute and that she’d thrown herself off the balcony into the fire.”

Breathless, the padre asked, “What did they say?”

“Well, here’s the kicker, they said she’d escaped but they never found her body, they even said I must have imagined it because all the bodies they found in the fire had been accounted for. I don’t know, I don’t believe in ghosts, well I didn’t then, but at the time I thought some grief stricken relative had claimed her body thinking it was someone else or something? Anyway, I knew I hadn’t imagined it because Jane left something on the bed for me and I still had it.”

“What was it?” The padre whispered.

“Nothing much, well I didn’t think so at the time, but it turned out to be a sort of symbol of this Great Serpent they worshipped. It was like a black metal cross, but with two cross beams and a figure of eight on its side at the bottom. It turned out to be a satanic symbol, it was only small, about four inches, so I kept it as a keepsake on my key ring.”

The padre shook his head in disbelief.

“You kept a satanic symbol on a key ring?”

“Padre, you have to understand something. I was a different guy back then. I had the world at my feet, wore fancy suits, travelled the world, damn it, I even spoke differently. Eight years on Death Row has changed me, and I know now that I’m only mortal. But then, let’s just say I didn’t believe in all that, didn’t believe in anything, really.” He shrugged apologetically, and then said, “Anyway, for me, that was that. No more divorce as I had no more wife, and I thought that was the end of it. But I was wrong Padre, I was so very, very wrong.”

 

This book is due out in September, and you can follow Jones either on Facebook or on his official website for updates.
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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy:  Literary Trials of Richard Rhys Jones
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