Quiet Teacher

Dr. Xenon Pearl, celebrated neurosurgeon and secret vigilante, has kept his avenging sword sheathed and his dark secret hidden. When a multi-car accident occurs, he finds himself with a scalpel in hand once more. His is brought face-to-face with secrets of his childhood, lessons from lives already lived, and a master teacher whose clandestine biological research into ‘animal venoms’ may be the key to his redemption. Rarely have great characters, Chinese history, martial arts action and mystery been woven together in such a memorable and fascinating way.

Awards:

Quiet Teacher received 1st runner up in the Commercial Fiction category from The US Review of Books: The Eric Hoffer Award. The Eric Hoffer Award was established at the start of the 21st century as a means of opening a door to writing of significant merit. It honors the memory of the great American philosopher, Eric Hoffer, by highlighting outstanding writing as well as the independent spirit of small publishers. The book awards are covered in the US Review of Books.

Jenkins Living Now Awards for Independent Publishers announced that Quiet Teacher received the GOLD MEDAL in the Men’s Fiction category.

Gold Winner – 2010 IP’s Living Now Award
1st Runner Up – 2010 Eric Hoffer Award
Finalist – 2010 USA Best Book Award

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Arthur Rosenfeld had a good thing in Xenon Pearl, hero of last year’s The Cutting Season, a clever tweak on the martial arts thriller.

A Fort Lauderdale neurosurgeon, Pearl was nicely conflicted about his forays into the tropical night, dispensing justice at the point of a sword. If he felt himself above the law, he remained subject to the laws of physics, not to mention human psychology.

It would have been easy to play it safe, letting Pearl outwit the police as he serves rough justice to deserving miscreants, reproducing the same basic storyline and reading pleasures in book after book.

With Quiet Teacher, Rosenfeld has challenged himself, and his readers, by pressing Pearl to the logical human limits of a man with the untenable conviction he is a superhero.

The new book opens six months after Pearl carved up the Russian mobsters who paralyzed his girlfriend, Jordan. Now in a wheelchair, she wants nothing to do with him. He’s unemployed, having lost privileges at the hospital.

And the cops know he’s the mysterious sword-wielding vigilante. They just can’t prove it.

Worse, Tie Mei, Pearl’s dead nanny and kung fu master, has stopped appearing to give him instructions. It was Tie Mei’s ghost, after all, who commanded Pearl to become a night avenger in the first place.

Desperate for guidance, Pearl seeks a new mentor, a search that leads him to Solomon Yu, owner of an exotic reptile import business who may have a connection to Tie Mei’s past and the lost martial arts tradition from which she emerged.

At first Yu rejects Pearl, denying any martial arts expertise, before reluctantly accepting him as a student. A wonderful character, both sympathetic and sinister, Yu is, of course, more than he appears.

In The Cutting Season, Pearl doubted his own sanity. Was Tie Mei’s ghost real, or a hallucination? His visions of past lives as a Chinese warrior — memories or delusions? His acceptance of the role of avenger — destiny or derangement?

Quiet Teacher brings those questions to the fore. Under extreme psychological pressure he stalks Solomon Yu and his employees. He gets into a senseless drunken brawl at a bar. Even his undying love for Jordan is immature and twisted.

A crime story does finally coalesce out of Pearl’s existential struggles, rising to a climax of violence and moral ambiguity. But the real drama lies with Pearl and the ways in which he is falling apart.

By the end, it becomes clear that even if Tie Mei’s ghost and the visions of past lives are real, Xenon Pearl may still be a lunatic.

Quiet Teacher is a novel of remarkable artistic courage — a ridiculous thing to say of a martial arts entertainment, I know. But it’s gratifying to see a veteran like Rosenfeld, author of seven previous thrillers, taking such risks with his genre.”

Chauncey Mabe

Books Editor, South Florida Sun Sentinel, June 28, 2009