Sunday, 20 July 2014

Private Eye Tenzing Norbu, central character in Dharma Mystery series.

I was very excited yesterday to see that one of the "Kindle book deals" that Amazon alerts me to, daily, was (for me) a new book in the Tenzing Norbu, Private Eye, detective-fiction series.

I bought the book (Of course! For $1.99!) and stayed up late last night to read my way through to the middle of TheThird Rule of Ten. I am in Nirvana!

Ten — which is what Tenzing is mostly called, outside Tibet — is the illegitimate son of a strict, advanced and powerful Tibetan Lama and a Paris hippie. He was raised in a Dharamshala monastery where he often got into a lot of mischief, but still found time to intimately learn the dharma. [We know this from the prequel to the series, The Broken Rules of Ten, a mystery written after the First and before the Second books in the mainline of the series.]

The Prequel.
Tenzing is a hardboiled* detective, a modern-day Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe, only with the lionheart of a fully compassionate, wizened mystical Tibet Buddhist. With more than a few brilliant friends/colleagues about to help him in his courageous adventures to solve near-impossibly-difficult crimes/mysteries in the Los Angeles area, Ten unscrambles the clues and sniffs out the bad guys.

I cannot say that the writing is high style — think Edith Wharton or the mysteries of Chandler and Hammett — but there is perfect clarity in the writing of collaborators Gay Hendricks [Buddhist] and Tinker Lindsay [Relationships expert]. I enjoy their wordsmithery quite a lot!

With a relationships-expert as half of the writing team, you can bet that Ten has many challenges in his love life. In The Third Rule, his gorgeous girlfriend Heather is passive-aggressive and more than a match to Ten’s crankiness. Their sex life is less than wonderful, Heather needing to swap out Ten’s penis for a vibrator, mid-hump, in order to reach orgasm.

The Fourth Rule.
Coming in January, 2015.
As for the Buddhism, it is always present in Ten’s thoughts. Here, examples I highlighted in my book through what I’ve read so far, the first twelve of twenty-four chapters:
I pondered the different ways cats and dogs – not to mention their deluded owners – handle affection. If you’re a dog owner, you pay a little attention to your dog, and your dog thinks you’re doing something miraculously wonderful. It licks, wags, pants and dances in circles. Dog owners accept everything about this deal, despite the potential for well-earned ridicule as enablers of vulgar canine toadying.

If you’re a cat owner, the reverse is true: your cat pays a little attention to you and you think it’s doing you a favor. Cat owners accept everything about this deal, despite the potential for well-deserved ridicule as an easy mark, suckered in by cunning slackers who appear, at best, amused, when not subjecting their masters to long periods of feline disregard.

Either way, everybody’s happy.
As you might not guess, Ten has a big cat, Tank. Tank has enough sway over Ten’s thinking and actions that he has garnered an online fan club (or, at least, a WEBPAGE for fans).
“You’re only as sick as your secrets.”
Ten struggles to be a fully open person, with little success (at least through the first half of The Third Rule).
“Lama Tenzing, we are all equal beings in the universe,” [Lama Tashi had] told me more than once. “If you hold others in the thought that they are victims, you rob them of their power. If you hold others as fully responsible for their own destiny, you ennoble them by treating them as equals.”
Tenzing does not forget lessons learned at the Dharamshala monastery.

To my great glee while doing a tad of googling to write this blog post, I learned that The Fourth Rule of Ten will be 'out' in a short five months. The universe is being very generous to me!

*  “Hardboiled” in the sense of tough, direct and clear-headed. NOT in the sense of unsentimental, or void of pity and tenderness.


  1. Awesome post/review, Tom. Have you come across the Buddhist fiction blog?

    This might be a good candidate for a guest/cross-post there if you and they are interested.

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  3. Oh cool! I haven't caught up with Norbu since the first one. Love these dharma detectives. Of course there's Eliot Pattison, my favourite. Have you read David Rotenberg's series?

    1. Thanks, Lynette! No, I didn't know about these other series! I'll be interested in diving in. I see that Rotenberg has a new book, published just a few months ago. And Pattison has one in his series coming out in November. Of course, I will want to start at the beginning of the series.

    2. Oh dear, one behind on Pattison again! Do start with the first one as the characters of both series have back stories that feed the plots. Enjoy!

    3. Right. I do like keeping things in order. For Rule of Ten, the writers do make it very possible for the readers to read the books out-of-order (explaining what might be holes for them), but I like to think I have the whole background story in my head all along the way. I'm anal in that way, I guess.