Turning Idolater

Novel by Edward C. Patterson

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Turning Idolater Reviewed by Irma Fritz author of Irretrievably Broken

A Bountiful Catch

TURNING IDOLATER" by Edward C. Patterson is a bountiful catch. The author can turn a phrase and is ever ready to give the reader those perfect details that put one right in the scene. Take the opening, for example, where we find our protagonist, Philip Flaxen, in the tub caring for the tool of his trade, just as... "Diggers sharpen pickaxes and none but a preacher can fill the fount with consecrated drink." But Philip is not a man of the cloth nor a blue collar worker. In his trade, Philip wears no collar and more often than not, no clothes at all. Well, yes, our Philip is a gay Internet stripper. This, by itself, for the uninitiated like me to get a peek into the world of gay Internet porn, would be story enough. But if you've read any of the writer's other works you know that he can thicken a plot and cook up a stew like few others. A fishy stew it is, in the case of "TURNING IDOLATER."

As we rub-a-dub in the tub with the Flaxen One, there is our very first surprise: Philip is a reader. And what we discover in his hands, after dutifully lathering and diligently honing the tool of his trade, is not just any boy-gets-boy dime-store romance, but we watch in wonder as he dives into a whale of a story. He's reading no less than Herman Melville's masterpiece, "Moby Dick." The author soon lets us in on the fact that this is a very newly discovered pleasure for our young protagonist. The gift of this rare, first edition book has caused him to stretch his mind. Although, this is Philip's first immersion into the depth of the literary arts, he takes to it like a fish to water. But like Ishmael, he doesn't realize that there's been a sea change and that this voyage at sea he thinks he's signed up for becomes a swim for his life. Because out there at sea--now you see him, now you don't--is a giant whale that's about to pull him and Ahab down from the Pequod into the briny deep.

"TURNING IDOLATOR" is a wonderful interweaving of Melville and Patterson. And just when you think that Patterson left Melville somewhere moored at a dry dock, he brings him right back, and pulls you along into his roiling sea of words. At times I was lost as the writer threw out a red herring here or there. And there were times when I wished for a dictionary to navigate my way through all the colorful, but to me unknown, words and names of the gay world, such as twink, hoohoo, pacific trick, or Kinzie 6. (Perhaps an idea for a new book?)

In "TURNING IDOLATOR" The writer draws his characters lovingly. Philip, on this, his most important voyage of self-realization, is filled with the energy of the very young. The author gives him an infectious lust for life and adventure as he dives into this fresh sea with the vigor of a junior sailor. You'll cringe as this innocent, unable to trust his own perceptions, blunders and blusters into this new world of seasoned old salts, trying on new words to fit his new clothes, misspeaking, misunderstanding, and at times--like a fish out of water wishing to return to the murk from which he came--spouting the phrases of his Internet porn past. Thomas is imbued with such decency and dignity; everyone should have a friend like him. And I absolutely adored Sprakie as he dances and prances, twitters and struts his abundance of queenly feathers. To watch him walk the gauntlet, a Provincetown annual gay ritual, is a joy to behold.

Reading "TURNING IDOLATOR" is listening along with Philip to... "a song he knew, the one beckoning him to coast over the waves and scoot across the pristine sea." Even as you fear that the Flaxen One is lost in the vast ocean of his own confusion ... well, if you've read "Moby Dick," you know that "The Rachel" is on her way.

Irma Fritz
author of Irretrievably Broken

Turning Idolater Reviewed by Mireille Reyns (Belgium)



Turning Idolator is wonderful ! Can't say it better, it's simply is... WONDERFUL !!
With this brilliant character sketch, disguised as a murder mystery (or visa versa depends what you fancy) Patterson shows yet again what a talented writer he is.
Each character is beautifully sketched, the murder mystery stays a mystery right until the end. No way you can predict the outcome of this story, let me tell you ! To be honest, I did shed a tear or two at the end... Patterson's books are so full of emotions it just grabs me every time.

5 stars !!!

By Mireille Reyns (Belgium)

Turning Idolater Reviewed by Esmerelda Luv (Seattle, WA)



I never saw the ending of this who-dunnit coming until the puzzle started falling rapidly into place at the end. Even now, I am still in shock over who did it, even though the clues were scattered throughout the story. I believe what made this story so successful was Patterson's ability to make the reader like each and every individual in the story, see who they really are and think "I know him, he couldn't do this!" But then, realize, after the fact, 'Yeah, he could.'.

Philip, forced out of his family home, gets a job at a porn site on the internet Where he meets his future flame, TDye. The story then flows with romance, broken hearts, multiple killings, restoring books, and excerpts from 'Moby Dick' until it climaxes with an explosive ending and fades into a warm glow. The author did an excellent job of tying up the loose ends and leaving the reader thinking, "Wow."

This book was full of emotional surprises throughout it's pages. There were times I laughed out loud and times when I needed to have the kleenex handy. When the characters had a serious moment, it was time to close the door, mute the stereo and focus intently on the words displayed on my Kindle.

Patterson has become an author I look for. Whenever I see he has a new book out, I'm in line to buy it. I'm not gay, but I like people, and his characters are likeable, full of spirit, going places and when they decide to go do something. . .I won't be left behind!

By Esmerelda Luv (Seattle, WA)

Turning Idolater review from Rainbow Reviews by Sibil


"Turning Idolator is filled with excitement, strippers, murders, books, romance ~ what more can we ask for?

All the characters have their own quirks which not only make them extremely interesting but also very lovable. Philip, who has been wronged, ends up in the porn industry trying to make a living by taking his clothes off. Then he meets Tdye, a well known author at the peak of his fame. And what happens? Well, as they say, sparks fly here!

There is so much emotion in these pages, it made me laugh, made me sniff and at some points take short walks around my desk. Look out for the 'Moby Dick' quotes and the hidden meanings. There are fishy things going on here and you don't want to miss them.

This is a book that pulls you in ~ Patterson's story is a catchy one and as the author says 'life can be a bloody thing' but ohhh, so good. The plot is so charmingly good plus the mystery will keep you on the edge of the seat, so go read! A roller coaster of emotions fills this story and the end will make you Weeep!

By Sybil - Rainbow Reviews

Turning Idolater Review by Todd A. Fonseca (Minneapolis, MN)


Literary Fiction for the Internet Age

Emotionally distraught after finding male pornography in her son's room, Philip Flaxen's mother shares her discovery with her husband. Ashamed and disgusted with this revelation, Philip's father disowns his son, kicks him out of his only home, and warns him to never return. Philip turns to his only friend, Robert Spraque - "Sprakie" - who takes him into his apartment. Sprakie introduces him to the seedy world of adult internet sites where Philip can get work by "baring it all" in order to stay off the streets.

Online, Philip encounters a "customer" different from his normal patrons - this client is well educated, articulate, and thoughtful. Intrigued, Philip breaks all the rules to meet this man face to face in hopes of kindling a romance. As it turns out, Philip's admirer is an extremely successful though considerable older author. A May-December romance ensues yet both men struggle with their very different backgrounds and social strata. Each consider whether they should turn idolater or leave love behind. Meanwhile, a series of cold blooded murders involving Philip's acquaintances occur and neither Philip nor his lover realize that their choice for love is also a life or death decision.

In "Turning Idolater", Edward C Patterson has create a novel best described as contemporary literary fiction. Inspired and anchored by Melville's "Moby Dick", Patterson explores the social mores impacting two men drawn to one another yet kept from complete commitment due to the fabric of their very different backgrounds and colliding realities.

Through Patterson's lyrical prose and keen understanding of the human condition, he creates characters so real I felt as if I was reading a memoir. Frequent reference to literary classics and intricate and loving descriptions of priceless book restoration invite the reader into a contemporary equivalent of a Jane Austin novel. Fans of Patterson's work will certainly enjoy Turning Idolater.

by Todd Fonseca

You Shall Not Make For Yourself An Idol
Review by Timothy Mulder (Los Angeles, CA USA)


What does it mean to idolize?
Where does the utter devotion that borders on obsession lead the frail human heart?

It can foster a lust between individuals so overwhelming as to blind them to their inherent incompatibilities.
Can engender a life long dedication riddled with passion and jealousy.
Or consume the lovelorn, leading to acts of psychotic desperation.
Turning Idolater is ever a risky pursuit.

From the seedy underbelly of "internet webcam" porn, to the pretentious, cattle calls of a liberally, arts minded, higher society, the reader is taken on a journey of discovery through social circles where nothing seems authentic. Lurking in the shadows is an ever present danger that threatens to tear everyone's lives apart.

Edward Patterson has created a cast of uniquely engaging characters, each one, on a quest to further improve and enhance their lives. Whether through romantic love, devotion to friendship or acquiring that nearly mythical, social status change that will forever cement one's security in life - they are all in pursuit of their own personal "graven image". An entertaining mix of status consciousness, sexual independence and the pursuit of true love, set against the backdrop of murderous intent.

Turning Idolater is not for the faint of heart, but if you think you have what it takes, then step into these pages.

In this reviewer's opinion; Mr. Patterson's best work to date.

Review by Susan in Va

I overslept by almost two hours today, making my whole day a hectic flurry of catch-up and rescheduling. It's all your fault, Ed. I was up past 4 a.m. because I just HAD to finish this book.

That business about "not for the faint of heart", though... I don't think anyone should let that frighten them away! For anyone still on the fence about this book: There's minimal explicit violence/gruesomeness, and no explicit sex, of whatever kind. Granted, if just reading about gay relationships makes someone queasy, then this isn't for them.... but they'd know that within the first two pages, and could stop there.

I did have to look up a bunch of words, though.... ones that were not in any conventional dictionary. A couple of them I then almost wished I hadn't looked up.

As in your other books, these characters are so real. Is there a sequel planned for this one?

Review by Lila L. Pinord (Port Angeles, WA)


Never a Dull Moment!

Mr. Patterson defines his characters so well, we feel we know them personally. Phillip Flaxen was the Golden Boy of his job as an Internet Stripper who made dates on the side. This job barely kept him in lunch money and he was lucky to eat once a day! Then he meets a fascinating older man who truly loves him and he helps change Phillip's lifestyle. He acquires a decent job that pays better and he loves working with rare books. His ex-roommate, his friend "Sprakie" who took him in during the worst time of his life is quite the character too. His favorite phrase, "Jesus Marie", is enough to drive his friends up the wall. The who-dunnit that winds its way throughout the story is captivating, and we never know who the culprit is until the very end. There's never a dull moment in this book! Good job, Mr. Patterson. Herman Melville and Charles Dickens would be proud.

Review by L.C. Evans "Author" (North Carolina, USA)

Unforgettable Characters

Edward Patterson has skillfully written a love story that's also a clever murder mystery. Philip Flaxen's intolerant father throws him out of the house when he discovers Philip is gay. The Flaxen One has a lot of growing up to do and nowhere to go. He turns up at the home of an acquaintance, Sprakie, who lets him move in and gets him a job stripping on the Internet. Philip discovers a love for reading after a client gives him a rare first edition of Moby Dick. In the beginning Philip's sweetness and youth make him seem so vulnerable you think he's going to get himself into horrible trouble. But Philip has intelligence and a strength of character that don't let him down when it comes time to choose what he really wants out of life. The murder mystery is so subtly woven into the story, that at first I didn't realize this was more than a beautiful love story. But clues gradually come to light and by the time Mr. Patterson brings in the murder of one of Philip's friends--from the point of view of the victim--the tension rises quickly to a satisfying conclusion.
The writing is wonderful and the characters very real. I loved the way references to Melville's masterpiece, Moby Dick, were referenced throughout the book. Mr. Patterson has a great talent and a masterful way with words.

Wonderful Page Turner
Review by J. Anderson "Jenna" (Upper Midwest)

This was a great mystery, gay romance (not erotica), thriller. I couldn't put it down. I loved the characters created by Patterson. I even cared for the icky bad guys. :-)

Edward Patterson has a great knack of portraying emotion in the scene and characters. As a writer I feel I've been taught a lesson by reading this book. I found myself rereading passages in order to grasp his technique.


A pleasurable read, January 1, 2011

Though it took me a small while to get into the book (the beginning makes you think it is all about "twinks" who hustle for money), I quickly became engrossed in the plot and the characters. Phillip may be a young man who earns his way by doing internet porn (and the occasional prostitution) but he knows there is much more to life. Of course, he then meets the much older Thomas, who enlightens him to his potential.

The author writes characters who are vivid and believeable. I cared about them and wanted to know eagerly what would happen next.
I would not call this book a mystery, however, as others have done as the culprit behind the murders of those around Phillip is quite easy to determine. Help other customers find the most helpful reviews

Beautiful Prose and Brilliant Storytelling, July 15, 2010
By Sharon E. Cathcart "Why, yes, I am an author" (San Jose, CA United States)

I was initially uncertain what to make of "Turning Idolater." I'm a great admirer of Edward C. Patterson's work, but I just could not imagine how a book about a gay man who strips on the Internet, whilst obsessing over the language of "Moby Dick," could somehow intertwine with information about the rare book trade and a murder mystery. Yet, in the end, that story turned out to be absolutely brilliant.

As always, Patterson's prose is gorgeous; the descriptions of whales, gulls, a cat and a dog in Provincetown are particular standouts in that regard. His protagonist, Philip, is a sympathetic fellow -- not without his flaws, certainly, which make him human instead of a cardboard caricature. There's more to Philip than meets the eye, which we learn as the tale progresses.

Highly recommended for those who enjoy a good literary novel. Help other customers find the most helpful reviews

By J. D. Michael Phelps "Michael Phelps" (Miami, Florida)

TURNING IDOLATER is the first novel of EDWARD C. PATTERSON that I have read. Matter of fact, it is the first gay-themed novel I have read. I expected an 'alternative' love story. This is far more than a love story.

The way Mr. Patterson has conceived the plot of this novel, weaving it like a fine Oriental carpet, interspercing Herman Melville's classic MOBY DICK is sheer genius. What surprized me is what I thought would be a love story, is that and more, with mystery and suspense intertwined. The book has so many twists and turns, just when I thought I had 'solved' the murders, a twist made me realize I was way off base. Being an ex-cop, I would have ended up embarrassed with a "Cold Case".

Now, I am a certified fan of Mr. Patterson and I will rush to buy his other books. I highly recommend this book to everyone. It is a good read, and one I could not put down until I read every sentence of every page from beginning to end.

Michael Phelps

Great mystery and love story, May 20, 2010
By Christa Polkinhorn (Santa Monica, CA, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Turning Idolater (Kindle Edition)
For me, Turning Idolater is above all a story about love, betrayal, and commitment. Phillip Flaxen, a young, flawed but loveable character, is looking for a light-hearted romance but finds himself instead increasingly drawn into a relationship with an older man of different social and intellectual background. Torn between his desire for freedom and his deepening feelings for his lover, he is faced with a difficult decision. A wonderful novel, dark, moving, yet with a touch of humor. I love the way Patterson weaves passages of Moby Dick into the story. It made me want to read that classic again!