Sunday Snippet: Who Killed Jerusalem? by George Albert Brown

Posted April 23, 2023 by Jen in Sunday Snippet Tags:

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Who Killed Jerusalem?

Author: George Albert Brown
Publisher: Galbraith Literary Publishers
Release Date: February 6, 2023
Series: Standalone
Genre: Literary fiction, mystery


book cover of Who Killed Jerusalem? by George Albert BrownCHAPTER 1


Just after midnight on Sunday, October 23rd, 1977, in the first-class section of a droning 747, Ickey Jerusalem, the thirty-three-year-old poet laureate of San Francisco, a man who appeared to have everything—looks, wealth, genius, passion, the love of a beautiful woman—was sitting alone and motionless in a backward-facing toilet cubicle, the door securely locked.

Jerusalem’s pants were puddled around his ankles. His wrists were tied behind him. His back was leaning against the front wall. His plum-purple face was frozen in a look of terror. His mouth was soundlessly screeching inside a transparent plastic cleaning bag that shrouded his head.

Ickey Jerusalem was dead.

Jerusalem’s eyes, however, seemed still alive. So wide and frenzied, and yet so focused, it was as though they were now seeing what a living person couldn’t. Piercing with X-ray vision straight through the veil of the locked toilet door toward the back of the plane, through the upholstered partition at the rear of first class, through the shabby gentility of business class, through a clutch of overused toilets with their tissue-clogged bowls and suspicious wet spots on the floor, through a metallic-neon food galley, and then into the long, sweatily compressed bowels of tourist economy, where, after driving onwards to the very last row, Jerusalem’s penetrating vision stopped dead at the hard outer surface of a pair of Coke-bottle spectacles sturdily shielding two closed eyes. 

They were the eyes of a man who appeared to have neither looks, nor wealth, nor genius, nor passion, nor the love of any woman, let alone a beautiful one.

Ded Smith opened his eyes and stared through his thick glasses.

When he had booked this red-eye flight from New York to San Francisco, he had assumed there would be plenty of empty seats on which he could stretch out and sleep, once he had completed his necessary tasks. He had not counted on being accompanied by a hundred cowboy-hatted members of the New York State Used Car Dealers Association, who were traveling to a national convention at San Francisco’s Cow Palace, nor on finding himself crammed between what had to be the two fattest and drunkest of the lot, monopolizing his armrests with their elbows while shouting locker-room ribaldries to their friends. Ded had gone through the motions of trying to join in, letting rip at the wrong times with an awkward “Whoopee!” or “Yessiree!”

In the end, though, he had reverted to his long-established role of the severely myopic, highly intelligent, forgotten, only child of aged parents—alone in his room, drawing stick figures of the other kids playing far below on the street. He had withdrawn into his airplane seat, overwhelmed with his usual feelings of isolation, loneliness, and suffocating claustrophobia.

author photo of George Albert Brown
by City Headshots Dublin

Luckily, Ded had been able to escape to do his business. During a severe bout of turbulence, the less sedate of his seatmates—the one blocking him from the aisle—had clambered up onto the back of the temporarily empty seat in front of him, straddled it as though it were a bucking Brahman bull, and begun waving his cowboy hat in the air, yelling, “Yippee-Yi-O!” in a high-pitched Brooklyn accent. The salesman, his riding skills on par with his yodeling, had soon fallen off. More precisely, he had been bucked off when an accidental flick of his spurless heel on the seat-adjuster lever had combined with a fortuitous, forward-driving air pocket to hurl his 350-pounds yippee-yi-o-ing headfirst into the next row up, where he became the topic of conversation for some time thereafter.

No one had noticed Ded slip into the aisle and head toward the front.

About the Book:

In 1977, Ickey Jerusalem, San Francisco’s golden-boy poet laureate (based on William Blake), is found dead in a locked, first-class toilet on an arriving red-eye flight.

Ded Smith, a desperately unhappy, intelligent philistine with a highly developed philosophy to match, is called in to investigate the poet’s death. Thus begins a series of hilarious encounters with the members of Jerusalem’s coterie (updated amalgams of characters from Blake’s work).

Ded soon realizes that to find out what happened, he must not only collect his usual detective’s clues but also, despite his own poetically challenged outlook, get into the dead poet’s mind.

Fighting his way through blasphemous funerals, drug-induced dreams,

 poetry-charged love-making, offbeat philosophical discussions, and much, much more, he begins to piece together Jerusalem’s seductive, all-encompassing metaphysics.

But by then, the attempts to kill Ded and the others have begun.

Before Ded’s death-dodging luck runs out, will he be able to solve the case, and perhaps, in the process, develop a new way of looking at the world that might allow him to replace his unhappiness with joy?