Tuesday, August 4, 2020

First Second Coming by Jeff Pollak - Book Tour

Book One In The New God Series
Supernatural Suspense, Romantic Suspense
Date Published: August 1
Publisher: Acorn Publishing

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In 2027 the deity known as NTG – short for New Testament God – retires after more than two thousand years of minding the store for his employer, Milky Way Galaxy, Inc. The new god, a planetary turnaround specialist, must decide whether Earth’s dominant species should or should not be included in his plan to bring the planet back into full compliance with Milky Way Galaxy, Inc.’s planetary operation standards.

Earth’s new God introduces himself to humanity by unexpectedly appearing on the Ram Forrester Hour talk show. Ram, an atheist, and co-host Brendali Santamaria, a devout Catholic, are stunned. God's interview, beamed worldwide, shocks and infuriates viewers. They learn that a sixty-day conference will take place in Los Angeles to determine whether humans are capable of helping him implement his planetary turnaround plan. All mankind must do to earn a coveted spot in this God’s good graces is eliminate religious violence forever, without his heavenly help. Failure means extinction.

God designates Ram and Bren as the conference’s only authorized media reporters. This assignment, fraught with peril, ignites their romance. Not only must the harried couple attend the conference meetings by day and do their show at night, they must also outwit a fanatical religious group bent on killing them. When rising conflicts within the conference intensify, it’s up to Ram and Bren to do whatever it takes to protect their budding romance and mankind’s very survival.

Saturday, December 25, 2027:   “A good afternoon greeting isn’t appropriate on this saddest Christmas Day in Los Angeles’ history. I’m Ram Forrester. In the absence of Jack Allenby, who’s under the weather, I’m here to anchor this special newscast.”
Jack’s had too much egg nog, but that’s nothing new. “A historic local church, an important institution beloved by the Latino community since the city’s founding, has been destroyed. We don’t have numbers yet, but the loss of life is considerable. No one’s claimed responsibility.”
It’s impossible to hide my dismay, though I try. The NITWIT caller said he had ‘bigger fish to fry.’ He must’ve meant this. How’d they pull it off? If they can accomplish this, they’re a much more serious threat than I thought.
“Brendali Santamaria is with us from Olvera Street. Fill us in, Brendali.”
The camera catches the somber look in her eyes. She stays silent long enough for me to suspect she didn’t hear the cue. When she does speak her cadence is slow, soft and melancholic.
“I’m near La Reina de Los Ángeles IglesiaThe Queen of the Angels Church.” She raises a hand to cover her mouth. We hear a heavy sigh.
“This morning’s Christmas church service held an overflow crowd. They showed up not only to celebrate our sacred holiday, but to attend a special sermon given by Mexico City’s beloved bishop, Cuauhtemoc Olin. His body hasn’t been found yet. The explosion occurred – uhh, excuse me.” She turns away, flicks a finger against her cheek and gathers herself.
“The injuries, the fatalities – dozens of each. Men, women, little ones.” Her voice cracks. “I’m heartbroken.” Her eyes close.
Before I decide to end the report, she speaks with a firmer voice. “Let me finish, Ram, please.” Her next breath is so deep her entire upper body heaves. “I walked past this blood-smeared Maria doll lying on the ground earlier.” She holds the bloody doll against her white blouse for the camera. 
“For those who don’t know, these doll figures are indigenous children dressed in their tribe’s styles. This one’s a girl from my tribe, Nahua, dressed in a tiny huipil.” She puts the doll in a baggy without appearing to realize her top is smeared with blood.
Ken’s voice rings in my ear buds from the control room. “Pull her. Brendali’s not giving us a report. All we’re getting is emotion.”
Bren’s hard at work despite hurting so much. I’ll damn well let her finish. With the screen focused on her, I emphatically shake my head to refuse his order.
“I thought about the cute little niná who brought this doll to church, dressed in her holiday best. Is the doll’s blood hers? Is she gone, so soon? Who took her life? Are her parents grieving, hurt or dead?”
She puts a hand over her eyes and goes silent. “We expect to hear from Archbishop Delmonico soon. As compassionate as he is, we must ask him how God could let this happen to these innocents on the day we celebrate Jesus’ birth. We need an explanation.”
With no signoff she walks away. The camera gives us an unobstructed view of a ruined church reduced to a mess of wood, pipes and plaster. The building, built in the mid-1860’s, is leveled. We segue to a commercial as the image fades from view, but not from our memory.
The victims share Bren’s faith and culture. She would’ve been among them if she’d arrived fifteen minutes earlier. Did NITWIT mean to kill her? I don’t want to bring up that idea – she’ll feel guilty, that all the victims died for her. I remember our first show, her evident pride when she walked on stage in that stunning white huipil. The doll must’ve triggered that memory and others, too – childhood, her cousin Lilia, the funeral her folks didn’t attend.
I need to comfort her, not sit here with my heart breaking. 

About the Author

Jeff Pollak grew up in Riverdale – not the one in the Archie comics and movies, the one in the Bronx. After graduating college in Buffalo’s often frozen tundra, he moved to Los Angeles to thaw out and learn to play golf without losing the ball in snow drifts. While there, a law school accepted him into their night program. Now retired from life as a civil trial litigator, Jeff lives in the Crescenta Valley where the closest Jeff comes to winter is his sporadic attendance at hockey games.

FIRST SECOND COMING, Jeff’s debut novel, was inspired by 9/11. Like everyone else, Jeff was transfixed by the unfolding tragedy. Unlike everyone else, Jeff had clients in the World Trade Center, his law firm had given annual seminars at Windows of the World, at the top of the building, and he’d become familiar with some of the staff. While watching the WTC collapse, the thought “earth needs a new God who’s a planetary turnaround specialist,” came to mind. Over the ensuing decade, this odd idea germinated in the deeper recessions of Jeff’s overactive brain until this story hatched in 2015. Jeff’s been writing it ever since.

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  1. Interesting book. Thanks for reviewing. I haven't been reading any new authors recently.

    1. Laila, thanks for your kind comment. This is a good book to read to reacquaint yourself with new authors. Reviews so far are very complimentary.


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