Friday, April 21, 2006
  The Plot Thickens....
We are deep in the throes of a murder mystery here in my household... Late this afternoon, Paula Taylor, twin sister to international karate champion, called the offices of SAVE -- Saara, Ameera, and Vicki Enterprises -- when things go wrong, they SAVE the day -- to solicit their help in solving the mystery of who killed her sister.

The scenario: It is the weekend of the International Grand Champion Karate Tournament, which are being held in Tokyo. Pamela swept the women's competition taking the gold medal in all three events -- kata, sparring, and weapons. Late that night, her body, bloody and with a fractured skull was discovered by her roommate, teammate, fellow student at the Plainfield dojo, and second place winner, Tasneem Khalid.

The suspects:

Tasneem was last years grand champion, and she is not happy to have been unseated by her teammate. She says she and Pamela are best friends... when Taz wins; when she loses they are, well, not as close. She sent Pamela a coded note demanding a rematch the night of the finals. Did she want to avenge her honor by sparring.... or did she plan to make sure she would be able to reclaim her title next year without such stiff competition...

Chen Huang is the coach and sensei of the Chinese team. She is angry at the judges, claiming that they are biased against Chinese people because of historical bad blood between the Chinese and Japanese. That is why, she says, her team members came in third and fourth. Chen has written a letter to husband saying she knows how to make sure the Chinese win, but her solution is written in Chinese characters. Hidden in her room, our intrepid detectives found a mysterious scroll with book secreted within. Could the scroll hold the key to Chen's plans for her team to succed? Or does she intend to get rid of all the competition? If so, Taz could be next...

Joanna Flick is another competitor, but one that hasn't enjoyed the success Pamela and Taz did, nor even that of the Chinese team. Last year, in fact, she came in last place. Joanna has been taking lessons from Pamela on the sly, without her sensei's permission. He'd be sure to kick her out of the dojo if he found out about the arrangement. And to make matters worse, she's fallen behind in her lesson payments, and owes Pamela money. A lot of money. Pamela has written her many times, asking for payment, and our dectives have discovered a file with a letter saying she was going to go to Joanna's sensei, to the tournament judges and the police if Joanna didn't pay up... now! How badly did Joanna want to keep her secret, and did she want to avoid paying up enough to kill for it?


All the suspects have weapons -- tonfa, nunchacku, bos -- in their hotel rooms. And they are all karate experts -- it could have been anyone!

The clues:

Pamela has a file with all her past invoices, and increasingly strident messages to Joanna. It looks like she was putting a lot of pressure on Joanna, threatening to go to her sensei, the tournament judges and even the police if necessary. But, she also seemed to have no intent of quitting the lessons -- she had a book in her hotel room about teaching karate and notes about which would be good for Joanna. And Joanna had several books Pamela had given her to read.

Also in Pamela's room was a coded message from Taz demanding a private rematch, at 10 the night of the finals. At first Taz denied writing the note, but later she said she was just going to meet her teammate for a friendly match, when she found her dead. Taz has lots of weapons, but her tonfa seem to be missing...

Finally, in Taz and Pamela's hotel room there was a note from Chen requesting a meeting at 8 the evening Pamela died.

In Chen's room was the note to her husband, promising that the Americans wouldn't be able to find anyone to beat the Chinese next year. Her solution was written in chinese characters that our detectives learned mean, The Eighteen Hands of the Monks. Is this a reference to the ancient scroll SAVE found in the room? Is it a ancient, lost system that Chen hopes will prove unbeatable? Or some special technique she used on Pamela, and may use on Taz? Chen is in Osaka at the moment, meditating in the shrines, and when she returns tomorrow, SAVE will have plenty of questions for her.

In Joanna's room were several books Pamela had given her -- she seems to have been a dedicated teacher. There was also a crumpled note from Pamela asking Joanna to meet her in the competition ring at 9 pm... the deadline for Joanna to pay up before Pamela went to the authorities. Joanna is at the competition award banquet, as is Taz. When they return, SAVE plans to ask her all about her lessons, and just how desperate she was to keep them secret, and how broke she really was.
 
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Progressive Muslim, feminist, mom, writer, mystic, lover of the universe and Doug Schmidt, cellist, theologian and imam.


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Cane River
An interesting exploration of the gradual whiting of a family through slavery to modern days.

To see an archive of all the books I've read (well the ones I've read and review since I started the blog) with comments, please click here

Causes Worth Supporting

This is just a short list -- a few of my favorites.

English Language Islamic Fiction. We need more of it. Lots more.
Pay a Teacher's Salary in Afghanistan. The Hunger site actually has a lot of worthwhile programs. You can find them all here .
Muslims for Progressive Values. My organization. We can always use donations, of time or money!
Human Rights Campaign for the glbt community
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
The ACLU I'm a card carrying member. Hope you'll become one too.
MoveOn.org. The organization that has done the most, as far as I can tell, to pull the countries progressive side together.
Network of Spiritual Progressives. Working to reclaim religion and morality for the religious left.

Blogs Worth Reading

Wanda Campbell also known as Nochipa A very gifted poet and a gentle, compassionate soul. Nochipa and I are on the same page on sooooo many things
Writeous Sister Aminah Hernandez, she's got some excellent latino pieces and always has good writing info on her blog.
Sister Scorpion aka Leila Montour - Leila is a fount of energy, quirky humor, and bad attitude. She's also a talented poet.
Muhajabah Very interesting commentary here. I don't always agree with her, but her pieces are always thought-provoking.
Georgie Dowdell Georgie is a great writer and a good friend.
Louise Marley Another great writer. I think Louise is one of the best sf writers exploring faith themes.
Ink in My Coffee Devon Ellington (who has numerous aliases) who is also the editor of Circadian Poems. A truly inspiring woman with a seemingly endless supply of energy.
Ethnically Incorrect With a name like that, isn't a given I'm going to enjoy this writer?
Freedom from the Mundane Colin Galbraith, another excellent writer, from Scotland.
The Scruffy Dog Review This is a new e-zine with an ecclectic mix of fiction, poetry, and non-fic, some really enjoyable pieces here.
Ramblings of a Suburban Soccer Mom Lara, another gentle soul, very thoughtful.
Circadian Poems A journal of poetry, new stuff up all the time.
Ye Olde Inkwell Michelle writes romance and is one of my writing buddies.
Muhammad Michael Knight The original punk Muslim writer. Like him or love him, Mike is always coming up with the unexpected.

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