Over the past several years, New Age themes and elements have inspired authors, providing them with a rich tapestry for storytelling.
In his recent novel, A Lesson in Woo-Woo and Murder Dr. David Unger cleverly, and with a great deal of humor, explores the range of spiritual beliefs, alternative practices and superstitions that are part of the world of New Age and the quirky characters that populate it.
The story begins in August 1985 and gets off to a swift start, never losing momentum. when the principal character, Dave, a therapist, meets with two clients, Eve and Sheridan, whom he met two years previously at a festival. Dave informs us that he never found out what Eve did, but he knew Sheridan was a drug dealer and poet.
The couple invited Dave to attend an event called the Whole Life Expo at the Santa Monica Civic Center. The event will feature a variety of topics related to spirituality, natural health, conscious living, metaphysics, and extraterrestrial topics. Some of the practitioners at the event may present ideas that mix elements of science with pseudoscience and may seem absurd or fantastical. Dr. Unger acknowledges that although the book is a work of fiction, "there's more truth here than I care to admit." You may come to the same conclusion when you finish the book.
Eve and Sheridan want Dave to help them out at the exposition because he can administer "Voodoo-therapy magic." More precisely, Eve tells him that she feels “forces” and predicts that something will go awry and wants him to hang out with them. If something untoward does happen, he is to put an end to it. He will be paid, not his usual fee, but he will value what he gets.
At the Expo, Dave meets some unusual individuals, including Madame Vadama, who discusses the similarities between her profession as a psychic and Dave's as a therapist. It's likely that therapists would not appreciate this comparison.
He also meets Rajiv, who can tell if a person's chakras are out of balance. There is Candy and Philippe, who are more knowledgeable than most about how we interact with our bodies. Also present are two guys who claim to be extraterrestrial travelers. There is Nova, the love doctor with whom Dave is fascinated and would like to have a relationship. And we mustn't forget Dennis, who turns out to be quite a devious character.
Dave's trip to the New Age expo takes a turn when a man collapses and dies in front of the Tantric Sex booth. The extraterrestrial travelers claim that they caused his death by warning him not to touch them, but Dave and the police are skeptical. Two other deaths at the expo also occur under mysterious circumstances, leading the media to label them as "woo-woo deaths." One theory is the group of booths with disturbed auras may be to blame for the strange events." Eve's premonition that something terrible would happen at the exposition comes to fruition.
Dave is determined to find out who caused the death of these three individuals. He assembles the possible culprits based on his therapist's skill and ability to read people. Dave believes that by collectively working together and tapping into mystical resources that exist within and outside of them, he would be able to solve the mystery. Will he succeed? You will have to read the novel.
Unger has created a wise, witty story that skillfully walks the precarious edge between slapstick and valuable insights into life experiences, relationships, and people's mindsets.
His writing style keeps the reader engaged despite a creepy feeling that one shouldn't be enjoying it as much with all the "mumbo jumbo," the ranting of the "kooky characters," and his self-mocking.
Yet, you'll enjoy his piercing, often hilarious observations about the world of New Age and even the limitations of his own profession. With its clever humor and thought-provoking insights, A Lesson in Woo-Woo and Murder is an entertaining and enjoyable read for fans of the New Age genre.
Norm Goldman, Bookpleasures.com