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The Mystery of the Green Star
...officially released today
Today The Mystery of the Green Star is officially available for purchase. My son Patrick and I collaborated in its writing, as a sequel to our epochal masterpiece The Mystery of Castle MacGorilla. Once again, the illustrations are by Jerome Atherholt, and this time they are more numerous than in the earlier volume. The book can be purchased in either clothbound or softcover form; the former is somewhat deluxe in design, with an especially handsome paper stock, but both are of course glorious and necessary additions to any respectable library.
To borrow the plot summary from the back cover:
Not much time has passed since the thrilling adventure surrounding the stolen treasure of Castle MacGorilla, but our three intrepid investigators—Teddy, Porculina, and Gorilla—are once again called upon to solve a baffling mystery. On this occasion, the action moves from the stark, cold highlands of Scotland to the lush and warmly sunlit Loire Valley in France, but the perils encountered by the trio are no less daunting and the puzzle is, if anything, all the more perplexing. Indeed, it is a puzzle that stretches into the remotest reaches of history, all the way back to ancient Egypt. There are chases, secret doors, samples of Eastern wisdom and French poetry, and biscuits. And then, too, there is the little matter of a recurrent ghostly apparition. Can a small teddy bear detective, however seasoned, aided only by an even smaller plush pig and an easily distracted toy ape—with the occasional assistance of a wise and longsuffering dog—discover the terrible truth before the all-important day of the Cider Festival?
I imagine that you are all trembling with eager anticipation, but let me offer a short excerpt from the first chapter further to whet your appetites. The setting (as depicted above) is a private compartment in a train bearing our three soft paladins through the Loire Valley on their way first to Amboise and then to the Château de Petit-Ours, situated on a shady sylvan estate near the banks of the River Cher.
At this, Gorilla was at last roused from his reading, and looked at Porculina. “I say, Piggles,” he said in his boomingly cheerful voice, “is everything all right, old girl?”
“Oh really, Gor-Gor,” she replied with a small, impatient shake of her jowls, “you haven’t heard a word we’ve said, have you?”
“I’m sorry,” Gorilla answered with an effusive grin, “it’s just that this is such an absorbing book...such a deep book. Once you start reading, well, it just grips you. Like an otter who wants to dance.”
“Oh, is it a mystery novel?” asked Porculina. “I can never set them down.”
“No,” said Gorilla, “though it’s full of mystery, if you take my meaning.” He held up the handsome, soft-bound, scarlet-beribboned, cream-colored volume, opened to its title page, showing it first to Porculina and then to Teddy: Idjitsu-Do: The Way of No Way, by F. D. MacGorilla. “It’s not just a technical manual, you know,” he added after a moment, setting the book down beside him. “It’s very, very philosophical. It’s full of things that just make you think and think. Very subtle things.”
Teddy arched a dubious eyebrow. “By your cousin, you’ve said?”
“Cousin Freddy,” said Gorilla.“Frederick Duncan MacGorilla.”
“It must be fascinating,” remarked Porculina. “Teddy says you’ve been practicing day after day for...oh, it must be months now.”
“Three months,” said Teddy. “It’s been hard to miss him out on the west lawn, going through his exercises. They’re very...energetic.”
“They are, aren’t they?” said Gorilla with a wide, eager smile. “That’s just the word. And deep, as I said. And also, again, very, very mysterious.”
Teddy nodded. “They’re certainly that.”
“But how does your cousin know so much about a martial art?” asked Porculina.
“Oh, that’s simple, silly old Piggles,” said Gorilla with a fond shake of his head: “it’s his own invention.”
“Gosh!” she said, her eyes narrowing. “That’s even more surprising. But your family—well, it’s just so amazing, isn’t it?”
“Is it?” asked Gorilla ingenuously.
“Much more than mine, certainly,” she answered. “I expect your cousin went on a long quest—explored strange, exotic, remote lands, learned all sorts of secret teachings and techniques...”
“Indeed,” said Gorilla. “He traveled all over the Mystic Orient.”
“China?” asked Porculina in a tone of mounting excitement. “Japan? Tibet? India?”
“The East Midlands,” said Gorilla.
There was a momentary pause.
“The...East Midlands?” Porculina repeated, her brows knitting.
“And even further into the Mystic Orient than that,” added Gorilla, his voice dropping to a more secretive register. “He went as far as...Ipswich!”
Porculina drew in her breath sharply in astonishment and again clapped her trotters to her cheeks. Then, however, her brows knitted once more. She lowered her trotters and said, “But, Gor-Gor, even I’ve been to Ipswich.”
“Ah,” said Gorilla with an evocative glint in his eyes, “but have you been to mystic Ipswich?”
Porculina’s eyes and mouth widened drastically. She shook her head slowly from side to side, as if struggling for words. Finally, in a hushed and awed voice, she said, “No. No, I haven’t. I had no idea there was a mystic Ipswich.”
“Ah,” said Gorilla, knowingly tapping the side of his round, flat nose with his forefinger, “that makes all the difference, old girl.”
Porculina slowly exhaled. “There’re so many wonders in the world,” she whispered.
At this, Teddy coughed, cleared his throat, and said, “Yes, well...ahem...that’s very...”
“But what does it mean, though?” Porculina interrupted, clearly unable to contain herself. “Idjitsu-Do, I mean.”
“Well,” replied Gorilla, “Do means ‘way,’ according to Freddy’s introduction, and so altogether it means ‘the way of Idjitsu.’”
“But what does ‘Idjitsu’ mean? Why did he call it that?”
“Ah ha!” cried Gorilla. “That’s a very deep story too. It’s a grand piece of family lore. You see, Freddy didn’t have a name for his new martial art at first. He’d come up with all sorts of techniques—the Dizzy Octopus method, for instance, or the Baffled Stoat method—but he didn’t have any name for the art itself. Then one day, back at Castle MacGorilla, he was practicing some of his especially clever and confusing tumbles—there are quite a lot of tumbles in Idjitsu, you see...and some very ingenious somersaults...and collisions too...and quite a few flailings of the arms and legs and such...and a bit of tripping over your own toes now and then—well, there he was, practicing away in a very...energetic way, as Teddy puts it, and along came Great Uncle Donal. You’ve never met him, but he’s a wonderful old Gorilla...very traditional Highlander too. And he always has just the right turn of phrase for things. He stood there watching Freddy for a long time, and then—it must have been an inspiration—he said, ‘Och whit’re y’ daein’ thaer, y’ wee witless ape? Y’ keek juist lik’—that means ‘you look just like’—‘Y’ keek juist lik’ an idjit!’ Well, that was that! Right away, Freddy knew it was...well, a sign. He had what he calls ‘instant enlightenment.’ Like a lightning flash. He just knew.” Gorilla stared into Porculina’s eyes meaningfully. “He knew.”
“Golly!” said Porculina with another gasp, this time punctuated with a tiny squeak. “Cream pastries and honey-butter! So... the Way of the Idjit...”
“Yes,” said Teddy, once again attempting to steer the conversation back on course, “that certainly is a very...humbling story. But the reason for Pigsy’s outcry a little while ago was this business about...well, about...”
“Oh, that’s right,” said Porculina, the anxious look returning to her face: “about a ghost.”
“There is only one thing better than a new book by David Bentley Hart, and that’s a new book by David Bentley Hart and Patrick Robert Hart. The Mystery of the Green Star not only sees the return of Gorilla MacGorilla (‘Gor-Gor’) and his friends, but initiates the reader, through a splendid assortment of karate gis, koans, and anecdotes, into the most marvelous new philosophy, the Way of the Idjit (which makes one think and think), and introduces a splendid new cuisine: Chinese-Welsh fusion. While the ghost at the heart of the mystery represents, for the dramatis personae, ‘sour cabbage’ (as the delightful Porculina describes it), for the reader its arrival in the story is honey on a crumpet. This is a delicious work. A book for the ages, and for all ages.”—STEPHEN MCINERNEY, author of In Your Absence and The Wind Outside
“The Harts have gifted us yet another charming whodunnit: two parts Arthur Conan Doyle, one part Lewis Carroll, and a dash of P.G. Wodehouse for good measure, a confection as strange and somehow congruous as Sino-Cymric cuisine. Don your teal uwagi. ‘I feel a mood of whimsy coming on.’”—STEVEN TOUSSAINT, author of The Bellfounder and Lay Studies
“Set in a cursed château, this delightful and philosophically rich detective tale brings readers deep into the captivating world of the soft toys. Infused with the mystical arts and ancient wisdom, this beautifully illustrated book begins in doubt and ends in magic. This is one of those books you live inside of for a while, and then it lives inside you.”—JENNIFER BANKS, author of Natality: Toward a Philosophy of Birth
“Together, David Bentley Hart and his son Patrick Robert Hart have written a supernatural mystery—the second of the MacGorilla series—that will be enjoyed as much by adults as by children. It pursues a distinctively Hartian project of bewitchment, with a world where magic is an organizing principle of the universe and of the ‘renunciation of sterile rationalism.’ These educated soft toys display too much heart and subversion to lapse into parody, and ask the reader to consider ‘that we are all moral by nature’ (and that it is neither complacent nor childish to think so).”—TARIQ GODARD, author of High John the Conqueror
DAVID BENTLEY HART and PATRICK ROBERT HART are both writers, raconteurs, and dilettantes. David is Patrick’s father, which is quite a singular coincidence since Patrick is David’s son. Both have beards, but one has hair on his scalp as well; the one who does not is very envious of this.
JEROME ATHERHOLT studied classical realism at the Schuler School of Fine Art in Baltimore, MD. After completing its 5-year certificate program, Jerome taught drawing and still-life painting at the Schuler School for 11 years. He recently retired as a senior digital artist at Firaxis Games after nearly 29 years in the computer game industry.