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‘Fevers’ by Joel Homer:
FEVERS is a novel unlike any you have ever read. Exotic adventure, white knuckled suspense, torrid romance, and a haunting portrait of three damaged individuals – one man who has turned beast, one who must confront the beast within himself, and the woman torn between them.
Rio de Janeiro. 1984.
There are rumors that somewhere deep in the steamy rainforest of the Amazon a man, once civilized, is hiding in green shadows. To the primitive Brazilian Indios, he is considered their long-awaited “pale-skinned messiah.” Others believe he is an evil god with powers to stir the native masses to a frenzied, killing pitch. And others suspect he might be Michael Fevers.
Into the lush tropics comes a troubled American, rebellious journalist, embittered Vietnam vet, desperate soldier of fortune. William Straw, who soon forms an uneasy alliance with a beautiful anthropologist, continues his tortured upriver journey-from jungle shantytown to opulent plantation, from explosive passion to brutal murder. Whether he is pursuing a story, an adventure, or a chance to finally exorcise his own inner demons, nothing will prepare William Straw for the sudden violence and bizarre cruelty of the one who is waiting ahead — Michael Fevers.
Praise for ‘Fevers’ by Joel Homer:
“Very engrossing novel. It felt a bit like reading a modern version of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The plot moves quickly and smoothly. The excitement never ends.”- Gerald Loev, Amazon Reviewer
Excerpt from the Book:
What manner of man was William Straw?
It was a question Maximilian Perreira asked himself often. As publisher-in-chief of the Rio Heraldo, he had good reason to be satisfied with his star reporter. In the six years since Straw first came to work for the newspaper, the circulation rate had greatly benefited from many a high-echelon scandal. Truly, William had earned his nickname. He was a gadfly, the best kind of gadfly, a gadfly with a penchant for rump of republic.
This gave Perreira pleasure. Loving his country, he hated his republic: the politicians and the military men and the bankers who had been so long the collective proprietor of an unhappy Brazil. He’d fought them all his professional life, first as a reporter himself, later as founder of the increasingly effective Heraldo, and could fully appreciate William Straw’s own battles against greed and hypocrisy and the philosophy of the fist.
Maximilian Perreira shook his head sadly. William took things so, so—personally. And responded with such indiscriminate fury. True, he’d been exposed to much excess in Vietnam, but he was a journalist now, by choice, and he lived in Brazil, also by choice, and no journalist in Brazil could afford to lose his objectivity.
This Indio business . . .
The government’s methods of dealing with the tribal peoples of the Amazon were shameful, and William had done well to reveal so many of the abuses. But the deeper he dug, the deeper he seemed to fall. It was almost as if the reporter were atoning for others’ sins. The drinking and brawling had become progressively worse. There’d been several unfortunate incidents. Nothing serious as yet. But the knives had long been out for the North American reporter. Powerful men, stung by O Tavão, were ready to retaliate in kind.
How long has it been now since he last called me? Two weeks? No. Closer to three.
He should never have allowed Straw to go off on his own. When the reporter had first come to him with the wild tale of an Indio insurrection in the upper reaches of the Amazon Basin, he should have flatly refused to authorize the investigation.
In which case, the publisher reflected ruefully, William would have investigated anyway.
Perreira pushed his chair away from the clutter of his desk and stared out the office window. On every side rose the spires of downtown Rio, opalescent in the bright morning sun. Here, atop his own hard-won tower, he was surrounded by the soaring headquarters of his old enemies. The oil cartels. The landowners’ combines. The banking houses. The bustling hives of the bureaucrats and soldiers and police.
Does he know? Does William know how truly dangerous they are?
The intercom buzzed.
“William Straw,” his secretary announced. “On line one.”
Perreira snatched up the phone and punched the appropriate button.
“Are you all right? Where are you? It’s been weeks, you damn madman!”
“I was just waiting till I had something worth calling about. Turn on your machine, Max.”
Perreira pressed another button.
“Go ahead, William.”
“Okay. First thing, there’s lots of static on the basin about some upriver tribe called the Capo. Seems these Capo have been kicking much ass lately. It’s not a blood feud, Max, and it’s not territorial, either. Word is the beaten tribes are being absorbed into the Capo ranks. Oh, and you’re going to love this: the whole kit and caboddle’s being run by a white man. A norte-americano. Bearded like a jaguar, and impervious to darts, spears, axes, and bullets.”
“So how come the F.S.U.’s snapping at my heels?”
“In the evil flesh. I had a confab with one of them yesterday on the boat.”
“What boat? Where are you, William?”
“Xueloc, the skunk cabbage of the Amazon.”
“And what are you doing there?”
“Following tracks. I’m trying to find this old professor who knows our man in the jungle. His name’s . . . Roberto Aguzar. What’s wrong, Max?”
“One minute, William. There was a noise on the line. Are you using a safe phone?”
“Who the hell knows, Max. There are only two phones in the whole damn village. One’s in the custody of the Comandante de Polícia. I decided to pass it by, knowing how you tend to fret. This one’s at my hotel.”
“There! I heard it again.”
“So the phone’s tapped. So what? This is the F.S.U., Max. They’re not going to hear anything they don’t already know.”
“William? I want you back here.”
“You’re getting old, Max.”
“I am old, William. And it took some skill to reach my present age. If you don’t respect me, then respect at least my instincts for self-preservation. Don’t interfere with the F.S.U., William.”
“I honor every gray hair on top your old bowed head, Max. But we’re talking story. A big fat story.”
“Then report it when it’s done. This isn’t a request, William. I’m ordering you back.”
“It isn’t the story, damn it! You were never that interested in stories.”
“I’m a good reporter.”
“You’re a terrible reporter. You do everything wrong. You get involved. You interfere. You get your story, yes, and the story’s always fine, but that’s just incidental to your real purpose.”
“And that is?”
“I don’t know, William. At first, I thought you were trying to kill yourself. Later, I thought you simply had a taste for the edge. Now? I don’t know. I do know I’d prefer you to remain alive, though.”
“Trust me, Max. Everything’ll be fine. I’m going to save the world and get the girl and ride off into the sunset.”
“William, enough of this, I want you to come—”
There was a click as the reporter hung up.
The publisher kept his ear pressed to the receiver. After a moment, there was a second click. Maximilian Perreira nodded his head slowly, sadly, and cradled the phone.
Joel Homer was raised in Greenwich Village, attended New York University and was a medal-winning veteran from the Vietnam war. Upon returning to the states, he began his writing career as a senior editor at Saturday Review.
His books include “Marathons” and “Jargon.” His produced plays include “Scenes Dedicated to My Brother,” “What People Do When They’re All Alone,” and “The Lieutenant Snuffs the Light.” In 1984 he was the first recipient of the prestigious Glickman Award for playwriting. His last play ‘Private Scenes” was a huge hit in San Francisco. While working in Los Angeles, he co-wrote the original script for “Beauty and the Beast” for EuroDisney….to date the most popular stage play in Disney’s history.
Joel Homer passed away in 2003 at the age of 58.
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