Thursday 26 December 2013

"Play the Devil"

My novel, Play the Devil, is now available at I started writing it back in the late 1990s and it seems like it has taken forever for things to reach this stage. 

The story is about a kid named Wilfred Lever, whose parents are missionaries in India. A visiting preacher prophesies over him that he shall one day be like Elijah in Australia. Which, if you're not familiar with Elijah, means he will become irresistibly powerful and a force for good.

He is sent to Australia to complete his education, and it is there that the fun and games begin...

The title of the book comes from Shakespeare's Richard III:

But then I sigh; and with a piece of scripture,
Tell them that God bids us do good for evil:
And thus I clothe my naked villainy
With old odd ends stolen out of holy writ;
And seem a saint, when most I play the Devil.
Wilfred Lever: he seems like a saint, but...

My original intention in writing this book was so anyone who had escaped from any of the Pentecostal cults could give the book to their family and friends, and say, "Read that, and you'll know what it was like."

I can't tell if I even got close to the target. You be the judge.

Here's the long version of the book cover blurb:
Wilfred Lever, son of ambitious missionaries, is wrenched from his life in an Indian village by a prophecy: he shall be Elijah in his own country. Sent to Adelaide to stay with an embittered and perverted aunt, he is well into adolescence when his family joins him there. In the first manifestation of a burgeoning power complex, he forces himself upon his half-sister Mary, now a deeply desirable young woman. What follows is the beginning of a lifetime of burying secrets beneath the surface of church life. The prophecy seals Wilfred’s moral doom as he is given carte blanche to a lifetime of abuses within the auspices of the church.

The institutional nature of his life protects him from retribution. A character with no moral compass, he feels himself to be untouchable. He gets away with cheating at Bible College, an affair with his secretary, deeply suspect financial dealings, and eventually an act more disturbing than all of these combined. His wife, Lorna, the guiding hand behind the scenes, tolerates Wilfred’s corruption and hypocrisy, always with one eye to her social position. The church leadership is willing to prop him up too; church members have any number of skeletons in the closet that can be used to manipulate and silence them when necessary. Everyone, it seems, is onto a good thing, and they all know how to cover their backs.

But when Wilfred rapes Mary’s daughter, it seems his number is up. Despite his best efforts to hush things up, rumours are circulating about the girl’s convenient suicide and his involvement in a financial scandal. Mary plots to kill him. The board forces Wilfred’s resignation, but at his lowest point, it seems the prophecy really is true. The church hierarchy are priming him for politics: all his travails have led to this moment, where at last he is on the brink of true power.
Do me a favor and, whatever you think, write a brief review on
Thank you.


Ed Love said...

Best of luck, mate, I hope it hits the big time!

Anne Flournoy said...

Wow, Henry! How exciting! I"m a slow reader but just ordered a copy. Can't wait. Congratulations!

Unknown said...

I'm not surprised an earlier draft finalled in the South Australian Unpublished Manuscript Prize, it's very skilfully written and your passionate hatred of hypocrisy shines through.