Monday, July 13, 2015

Book Spotlight: Shaytan: A Journey Into Evil by David S. Arthur

India – 1947. In the heart of the jungle, death stalks the night. The authorities claim it is a man-eating leopard. The natives believe it is something far more terrifying—a creature that by day wears the skin of a man, but when craving human flesh becomes the demon…SHAYTAN! While on expedition to India, historical sleuth Richard Quizzenbury and his wife, Emily, suddenly find themselves on the hunt for a killer.

For his action-packed new thriller, SHAYTAN–A JOURNEY INTO EVIL, Santa Fe novelist David S. Arthur combines adventure, mysticism, and history to transport his readers into a world in which time marches to the pulse of the cosmos; where the spiritual and the supernatural merge and reality shares equal footing with illusion.

Fans of SHAYTAN–A JOURNEY INTO EVIL are already expressing excitement and fascination for the new book, among them Tom Wright, prominent American film and television director (NCIS, Supernatural, Castle). “Man you really get into it! The cobra scene scared the @#$% out of me. This is Spielberg on steroids.”

Seeking relief from the devastation of post-war Britain, Richard and Emily Quizzenbury embark on a tour of India. They plan to initially spend a week in Bombay with Richard’s old Oxford chum, Victor Bloodworth, after which they will satisfy their appetite for adventure by exploring historical sites throughout the Indian subcontinent.

On their first night in Bombay, Victor informs the Quizzenburys that he has been asked to undertake the hunt for a man-eating leopard that has been terrorizing the inhabitants in a remote
area of the Indian Central Provinces. Victor is the illegitimate son of a wealthy Englishman, now deceased, who was by trade a legendary big game hunter. While Victor has long since rejected his father’s brutal profession, he is himself a skilled hunter and reveals his intent to help the people who are being threatened by the leopard. Although the villagers of the region believe the man-eater is a demon that they call Shaytan, Victor is convinced the leopard is actually being forced to prey on humans due to injury or old age. He wants to capture the animal alive and relocate it to a zoo for scientific study.

Quite unexpectedly, Victor invites the Quizzenburys to accompany him on the hunt, explaining that his uncle and spiritual mentor, Ashok Kahn of the Forest Guard, will join them as an expert Shikari guide. The Quizzenburys reluctantly agree, hoping Victor will be able to capture the beast as quickly as he anticipates, so they can be free to pursue their travels. However, the hunt for the leopard soon escalates into a terrifying struggle for survival during which many innocent lives are lost, as the hunters – and the Quizzenburys – become the hunted.

“Shaytan is far more than just a jungle adventure,” Arthur insists. “It is about the ageless conflict between good and evil, the ruthless march of empires, the rise of the world’s great religions, the discovery of the New World, the laying of this century’s geo-political foundations, and the establishment of hostilities that are today’s headlines. And India was the epicenter of it all.”

According to Arthur, for Richard Quizzenbury – who is never without his books – the expedition becomes a quest for truth, which is his passion – the truth about history and religion and science – the truth behind our darkest nature as a species and our most primal fears and beliefs.

“For Victor it is far more personal,” Arthur explains. “Victor is half English, half Indian – with a Hindu background. He is haunted by the memory of his mother’s murder when he was a child, his father’s apathy toward him growing up, his bi-racial heritage and his uncertainty about his faith. His Uncle Ashok’s presence brings these conflicts to the fore. Through their daily prayers and rituals invoking the ancient gods to guide and assist them, Victor’s search for personal redemption transcends the hunt; plunging him into the arcane realm of Vedic (Hindu) mysticism, in which the Hindu deities play a deciding hand in his life or death battle against the beast.”
As a writer, Arthur enjoys peeling back the layers of history, digging up the past, searching for answers to ancient riddles. “My intention is to entertain by taking my readers to exotic places they may never go and revealing things they might never know. In short, I write for the thrill of discovery, and I want my readers to share that experience.”

Read an excerpt!

I am at present in hospital at Timarni Station in the Harda District of the Indian Central Provinces. I am recovering from certain unexplained maladies sustained during our hunting expedition to Gohatti Village and neighboring jungle environs. Although physically weakened, thankfully I have suffered no permanent damage. I am in sound condition and my mental faculties are now fully restored.

During the five weeks I pursued the Gohatti man-eater, six innocent victims met their fate in the jaws of this killer, including my own dear uncle, Ashok Kahn of the Central Provinces Forest Guard. 

There are those who may argue that my contest with this leopard was a battle between the forces of good and evil. Many have called this beast Shaytan, meaning demon. However, there is nothing to imply the Gohatti man-eater was anything other than a jungle beast doing its best to survive. Why it had developed a preference for human flesh, we shall probably never know.

The evening of my confrontation with the man-eater, I was seated motionless in the forest near a village called Nandwa, with my back against the base of a giant teakwood tree, waiting for the leopard. In front of me was a freshwater pool surrounded by a mature bamboo grove. Thorn barriers had been constructed around me, offering some scant protection. Above me in the tree on a machan, Richard Quizzenbury, my hunting companion, was guarding my back.

We sat patiently while the sun faded and the stars emerged one by one, glistening through the treetops. Algol the Demon Star was just appearing over the mountains and the moon was barely a crescent. Save for this and the light of the stars, we were soon surrounded by complete and utter darkness. My ears were to be my only defense. Should the man-eater come—and I had no doubt that it would come—its attack would be instant and unexpected—as would be my death if my attention flagged. While waiting and listening for the arrival of my adversary, I repeated a charm often recited by my uncle. From all that flies, from all that crawls, from all that prowls the mountain, oh night, protect us.

From all that crawls, indeed. From all that slithers.

For More Information

  • Shaytan: A Journey Into Evil is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

David S. Arthur is an American novelist with a taste for international adventure and ancient history. THE KINGDOM OF KEFTIU: A MYSTERY OF THE ANCIENT WORLD was David’s first book to feature English historical sleuth, Richard Quizzenbury and his feisty wife, Emily. It is an archaeological adventure set in the Greek islands. His new novel, SHAYTAN–A JOURNEY INTO EVIL, continues the Quizzenbury Adventure series. Before focusing on fiction writing, David enjoyed a long and rewarding career as a writer, producer, and director of hundreds of film and digital video presentations, theatrical performances, concerts, and large scale audience events. David currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
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