A victim engulfed in flames. A psychic series of clues. Can a PhD with incredible mental powers stop a real-life firestarter?
Years after a tragic car accident claimed his fiancée, Dr. Leonard “Len” Wise is just coming to terms with his demons. Now sober, the countless drunken nights helped him cope with the pain while he studied his newly-acquired psychic abilities. When a friend enlists him to deliver a lecture on parapsychology, he never expected it to end with a strange invitation: a police consult on a case of spontaneous human combustion.
With no-nonsense Detective Bill McGee by his side, Len deduces the victim may have been murdered by someone with similar abilities to his own. But when an enchanting suspect catches fire before his eyes, the PhD becomes the prime suspect. To clear his name and protect the people he loves, Len must take his powers to the next level before he too is engulfed in flames.
Fire in the Mind is the first book in the Doctor Wise series of paranormal mysteries. If you like complicated heroes, incredible abilities, and supernatural twists, then you’ll love Arjay Lewis’ award-finalist psychic detective novel.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This book was rolling around in my head for decades. I started by writing what eventually became the fourth book in the series. (Me and George Lucas) Upon finishing that book, about a haunting, I wrote a second book, but in both cases it was too far along the character's journey. It was then I wrote FIRE IN THE MIND, starting the story where it should start: at the beginning.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I came up with the idea of Doctor Leonard Wise, a parapsychologist and true psychic back in the 70s. A friend had gifted me with a cane and it caused my wacky imagination to create the crippled protagonist who went to medical school, then studied psychology and finally parapsychology, all to explain the unique gifts that opened his mind and almost killed him.
In the last ten minutes of his life, Philip Mishan stumbled down the street as he tried to run on legs that for too long had carried his bulk at nothing more than a trudging walk. Over fifty and very overweight, he panted as he gave the appearance of an out-of-shape executive who decided to jog to work in his best suit.
He pushed his way along the fashionable shops of Upper Mountainview, New Jersey, and shoved open a glass door painted with PHILIP MISHAN, FINE JEWELRY. It almost shattered from the force of his thrust.
Behind the counter, an attractive young woman, startled by the noise, blurted out, “Mister Mishan! Are you all right?”
“Got to…call the police,” he puffed as he loosened his tie, his voice strained. “That’s what I have to do…tell them…the whole…damn story.”
“You’re flushed, Mr. Mishan,” the woman said.
He looked at the girl, Wendy. At one time, he’d thought she was merely a frivolous young woman. But his partner informed him that he had no choice but to employ her. Soon after her arrival, he had learned to see the iron hidden under the velvet.
All in all, it wasn’t too bad. She was nice to look at, like his jewelry. His last lover, Tomas, had been nice to look at as well. Pretty things were the focus of his life.
But the handsome young man had expensive tastes, and Phillip had pushed his partner to make more money. A lot more money. When his partner didn’t respond fast enough, Phillip had made threats.
That had been his undoing.
“You’re sweating, Mr. Mishan,” Wendy said, her eyes growing wide with fear.
“It’s hot in here,” he complained. “A phone…I have to call…”
Wendy reached behind the counter, extracted a phone and held it out to him.
He stumbled toward it, dizzy and decided it was from running.
“Are you having a heart attack?” Wendy asked, staring at his face as it became more and more red.
“No, no,” he stated as he yanked his jacket off, a beautiful Yves St. Laurent coat in pale blue wool he’d bought years ago. “Damn it’s hot.” He reached for the receiver in the girl’s hand.
“Mister Mishan, your jacket!”
He looked at the cloth and saw wisps of smoke rising from it. He stared at it, fought to rationalize what was happening.
With a WHOOSH, the coat burst into flames.
Mishan dropped it with a cry and stepped back aghast.
“Oh my God!” shouted Wendy. “Stomp it out!”
“The bastard!” Mishan yelled as he watched the coat burn. Instantly, he knew what the only explanation could be.
He glanced about the store and realized how many flammable liquids were stored there. That’s when it occurred to Mishan that his partner had planned this.
He knew the bastard had to be there. Had to see what he wrought. He turned to Wendy. “Oh God! I’ve got to get out of here. I’ve got to get under a shower or into a tub…”
Wendy looked at the burning coat and then at him as if he’d gone mad. “You can’t just let that—”
“Get a fire extinguisher!” Mishan screamed, just as he became aware of the presence. He looked out the plate glass window until his eyes found the one man he feared.
There he stood across the street dressed all in black, with that annoying smirk on his face.
“An extinguisher!” Philip Mishan repeated, but it was nothing more than a hollow whine. They were the last coherent words he would ever say.
With another loud WHOOSH, his body was engulfed in flames. His clothes, skin, and hair were on fire. The air was filled with the stench of charred flesh. He screamed pathetically as Wendy backed away, unable to hear him over her own shrieks of terror.
She turned and ran to the back exit of the store, slamming through the heavy metal door just as the entire store became engulfed in flames.
On the street, a crowd formed on the sidewalk opposite the store, as close as the billowing smoke and flames would allow. In the distance, sirens sounded just as the flames burst the plate glass window and began to lick at the brick facade. The inferno stretched its orange tongues up the rest of the three-story building.
The man in black turned and wandered through the crowd, the smile still on his face. As the fire trucks approached, he strolled away in the opposite direction.
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