Land of Enchantment, Land of Contrast: New Mexico, the Land of “The Cult Cop”

Land of Enchantment, Land of Contrast: New Mexico, the Land of “The Cult Cop”

The most striking works of art and photography (as they appear to my eye) are those which play upon the stark contrast between light and shadow, between all that is revealed and all that is concealed.  The same dramatic contrast may apply, as well, to people, places, and literature–especially in stories involving mystery, suspense, and the hot and cold motivations of human beings.  taliesin

New Mexico, suitably called “the Land of Enchantment,” is a model of contrast–of light and dark.  And New Mexico is a dramatic character in itself within the novel, “The Cult Cop.”

It is the land of the mystic.  It is the land of the no-nonsense, work-a-day laborer.  It is home to makeup-forgoing, sun-worshiping, crystal-wearing neohippies and wannabe Indians.


It is home to bonafide Native Americans, particularly Navajo women, who find amusement–and puzzlement–when they regard their white sisters who have made the arduous trek from L.A. in order to brave the harsh wasteland of the Santa Fe bistros and expensive brightly painted false-adobe condos.mensatic2

It is also home to bikers, druggies, backpackers, dog walkers, birdwatchers, cops, gang members, and practitioners of religions, cults, sects, and whacked-out who knows what… and, in my novel, a transplanted urban dweller named Jack Salter from Jersey.

It is a place where, while snowdrifts cover the ground, the dry climate permits you to be comfy in short sleeves.  It’s a place of ancient petroglyphs, the remnants of the little understood Anasazi people who mysteriously vanished eons ago.  The petroglyphs are also a source of irritation to West Coast commuters who wouldn’t mind bulldozing a tunnel through the glyphs and have proposed doing just that.


Massive mountains with timber and craggy peaks formed the eastern border of the city.  A deep irregular chasm divided the mountains, foothills, and city from the flatland that extended westward to a far line of hills so faint that they faded from his vision intermittently.  Three black projections suspiciously resembling volcanoes broke the west side’s uniform appearance.

Jack’s appreciation of the land’s harsh beauty competed with the uneasiness that, as a long-time city dweller, he felt with the vastness around him.

Hastings, who sat beside Salter, commented upon the scenery from over Jack’s shoulder.  “The Sandia Mountains.  Ten thousand foot elevation–don’t go up there for a few days, until you get acclimated.  You’d get the worst headache of your life.”


Listen, Jack, I’m a Presbyterian.  Have been since I was old enough to know how to spell it.  I don’t have anything to do with cults–not directly–although as a physician I may encounter things that make me wonder about the hobbies of some of my patients.  However, I can tell you that, in this town–in this state–there is no lack of religious diversity.  New Age spiritualists from California and Santa Fe sleep with crystals under their pillows and search for ‘positive energy fields’.  The Indians–those that weren’t Catholic on the reservations, worship the moon and the earth–and maybe a few hundred other deities, depending on the tribe.  The Catholics–the Spaniards–settled this town–or more accurately–stole it–from the Indians.  Most of the Hispanics here are Catholics, although the Baptists have staked a claim and are getting big in these parts.”

 “Your point?”

“Satanists.  We really should have some of them, too.  We’ve got everything else.


It is a land of contrast, of light and dark, of enchantment.


(Excerpts from “The Cult Cop” Copyright © 2015 by Howard F. Clarke)

This article Copyright © 2015 by Howard F. Clarke

Original photographs by, in order, taliesin, johnlindsay, mensatic (last two photos), courtesy



The Third Level of Satanists: The Hidden Ones

The Third Level of Satanists: The Hidden Ones

Three levels of satanic worship.  Two are well known.  The third is hidden.

Jack–the fact that an organized crime expert and consultant–the fact that you and others like you are not aware of, or have been actively investigating, these monsters, is proof of their power.  This group has probably been in existence for centuries, and many of its members have been born into it.  A tradition of dark rituals, a dark life, handed down from father to son, with the sins of the fathers passed down like an evil baton of dishonor.  The women involved are used, tolerated, given tokens of power, attracted to the money, trappings, and obscenity that entrap the vulnerable.  Its roots were in Europe, with the United Kingdom most likely the focus, and its followers members of the elite of society, not the dregs.  We’re talking about attorneys, senators, businessmen, military officials, even judges and high-ranking policemen.  These are intelligent, ruthless, remorseless lurkers behind the guise of respectability.  Jack, they are every bit as real and as serious about what they do as you and I are.

From “The Cult Cop” Copyright © 2015 by Howard F. Clarke.

For more about the novel and for a Chapter preview, click on the “Cult Cop” book cover icon.


Think Your Boss Is The Devil? Think Again. Meet Alexander Kale.

Think Your Boss Is The Devil?

Think Again.

Meet Alexander Kale.

Signs and symbols. They were everything to an occultist. Witness: the sign of the ring. How easily it slipped from her finger as Alexander Kale reached across the sleeping woman in his bed and nimbly removed her wedding ring. The woman never stirred, a faint moaning sound from her lips. Alexander Kale slid from the bed and crossed the room with the ring gripped in his fist.

All in all, a good day. And a fresh start, here in his New Mexico home, away from the L.A. environment. The elimination of Larry Cobbs was a fine thing. The seduction of this beautiful woman he had pursued the fitting icing on a delicious cake.

From the novel, “The Cult Cop” Copyright ©  2015 by Howard F. Clarke


For more about the novel and for an excerpt from Chapter One, click on the “Cult Cop” book icon on this page.