The Fraternity of the Soul Eater, by Scott A. Lerner: The Gods of Ancient Egypt Rise Again, and They Are Hungry

fraternityWhen you rush this fraternity, hell week has a whole new meaning.

The Fraternity of the Soul Eater ($13.95, 218 pp., ISBN: 978-1-60381-289-4) is the third work of Urban Fantasy in Scott A. Lerner’s Samuel Roberts Thriller series, which began with Cocaine Zombies and continued with Ruler of Demons. In this adventure, Sam and Bob confront an evil secret society bent on bringing the Egyptian gods to life in order to clinch their own power on Earth.

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“An exceptionally entertaining read, The Fraternity of the Soul Eater is the third book in the author Scott Lerner’s Samuel Roberts Thriller series, which began with Cocaine Zombies and continued with Ruler of Demons. A master of the genre, Scott Lerner’s latest novel continues to document his originality and skill as a storyteller. The Fraternity of The Soul Eater is highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library collections.”  Read more….

—John Burroughs for the Midwest Book Review

“Not only is this an interesting plot full of twists and turns, but Lerner’s characters, Sam and Bob, are witty and endearing. The book is not just plot-heavy, as many genre books can be. This supernatural thriller is full of characterization, which is perfect for fans of the series who already love Sam Roberts and also for new readers who will like him immediately and want to go back and read the first two installments. The book is set in Champaign-Urbana, and there are many local references, especially to University of Illinois buildings, street names, restaurants and publications, such as The Daily Illini. Reading a book set in a familiar place is often an extra bonus to an already great story.”  Read more….

—Margo L. Dill, The News-Gazette

“A quick and very amusing read. Even when they are getting whooped on Sam and his friend Bob, have a weird sense of humor, that just won’t let them stop making smart remarks…. This book isn’t just funny, it has some mystery, and a bit of horror, and even some adventure. It is a standalone book, but you will probably want to read the other books in the series too, if you haven’t already. I liked the last book, and this one was just as good. Maybe even better.”  Read more….

—Simple Wyrdings

“Lerner gives us characters that are full of fun, bluster and charm, yet have that energy that you feel is trustworthy. His dynamics between his characters and protagonists are both strange and unlikely, but at the same time intriguing and interesting. You find yourself immersed in a story that takes you to the edge of darkness, twisting and realigning your own take on life…. If you enjoy mystery, danger and the macabre, riddled with humor and friendship you will find this a must have for your library. You can read it time and again and still find passages you may have missed which make this a fun and unique find.”  Read more….

—Tic Toc Reviews

“Another fun round with Sam and Bob…. Bob always has a way of making light of whatever happens. Whether he shoots a cobra or sees a desiccated corpse, he finds humor in it. I like Bob. He reminds me of Shaggy from Scooby-Doo, right down to the van with purple shag carpet and the hash brownies.”  Read more….

—Romancing the Book

Five Stars: “I liked how convincingly the author works ancient Egyptian custom into a modern-day setting; the fraternity and its practices become a chilling, unsettling villain at the center of the mystery, and it creates a unique and creative plot. Sam himself is a likeable character—he’s smart, and his close relationships with Bob and Susan help bring him alive on the page; but as a reader you also feel how conflicted he is about the things he’s recently learned walk in the world. I also liked Lark, and her sassy, brave willingness to sacrifice herself if that’s what is needed to bring justice to her sister.” Read more….

—E. Lucas, top-rated Amazon Reviewer

“The pace of the story is fast, so you’re turning pages as fast as your eyes will allow. My favorite character is Sam’s friend Bob. Everyone has or needs a Bob in their life. He’s there for his friend. He’s handy with a computer and good to bounce ideas off. I don’t want to give any spoilers but the story is a thriller mystery. It’s fun, interesting, and good.”  Read more….

—The One True Faith

“A suspenseful thriller that grabs you right from the start, it takes you into an ancient world of long held secrets and grotesque murders. A true page turner.”  Read more….

—Tribute Books Mama

Scott’s first novel, Cocaine Zombies, won a Bronze medal in the 2012 IPPY Awards, mystery category.

It’s been a while since Samuel Roberts was called upon to save mankind, and he’s getting restless. His girlfriend Susan thinks he’s a danger junkie, and he’s worried he has a hero complex. He’s back to his usual small-town lawyerly duties in Champaign-Urbana, handling divorces and helping people beat DUI raps. But then a young fraternity pledge calls. During an initiation ceremony he witnessed the live sacrifice of a young woman, but he had so much alcohol in his system that no one believes him. Except Sam. Lately Egyptian lore has been creeping into his life, his dreams, and his movie preferences, and he’s pretty sure he knows why. Evil is knocking on his door again.

Is the call welcome? Why can’t Sam be satisfied with his comfortable legal practice and gorgeous redheaded girlfriend? Maybe it’s because he knows that, as inadequate as he may feel to the task, he and his friend Bob may be humanity’s only hope against ancient supernatural forces combined with modern genetic engineering. Come hell or high water. Or in this case, the underworld or subterranean pyramids.

Says the author, “Modern fraternities grew out of secret societies. Although I have never belonged to a fraternity, I felt that the mysteries, traditions, and secrets associated with that system offered an ideal premise for this book. Freshmen at any major university may also find that it helps them get acclimated. Particularly if human sacrifice is going on.”

Author and attorney Scott A. Lerner resides in Champaign, Illinois. He obtained his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and went on to obtain his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. He is currently a sole practitioner in Champaign, Illinois. The majority of his law practice focuses on the fields of Criminal law and Family Law. Mr. Lerner lives with his wife, their two children, and their cat Fern. Lerner collects unusual antiques and enjoys gardening, traveling, reading fiction and going to the movies. Click here to find Scott online.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

She was wearing tight black jeans and a low-cut cropped T-shirt that exposed ample cleavage. A golden ankh dangled between her breasts. On one forearm was a tattoo of a bird I assumed to be a lark, and on the other, a tattoo of a hawk. Her bright blue eyes matched her hair. She was striking looking but by no means beautiful. A slight muffin top was made more visible by her short shirt, and she had apparently broken her nose at least once in her life. She smelled like sandalwood and cinnamon.

I would never cheat on Susan, but I had to admit there was something sexy about Lark. I tried to put my prurient thoughts away and deal with the issue at hand. Also, the ankh made me wonder if she was playing for the other side. I was not a big fan of birds, which for me had always been a harbinger of bad luck.

“So what is it that you couldn’t tell me at the courthouse?”

“I’m a graduate student at the University of Illinois and heard from a friend about Chris’s case. I went to the preliminary hearing to get more information.”

“That’s fine—it’s an open courtroom—but I can’t tell you the specifics of his case.”

“I am here to help you, not the other way around.”

“Cool!” I leaned back in my chair, trying to look casual. “Tell me what you know.”

“My sister was at a party at that fraternity three years ago. She has not been seen since. I believe she was killed there. I can’t prove it, but I have been trying to ever since.”

“Did you call the police?”

“No, I called Pizza Hut.” She sighed. “I’m … sorry. This whole thing …. it’s hard to talk about. Yes, I called the police and the FBI. I even hired a private investigator.”

“No luck?”

“None. In fact, they all told me to let it go.”

“I take it from the fact you are here that you didn’t ‘let it go.’ ”

“You take it right. I was attending the University of Iowa. I was close to getting an MFA in fine arts but I transferred to the University of Illinois a year and a half ago. I’ve been investigating the fraternity ever since.” As she spoke Lark moved her arms about in quick gestures, reminding me of the bird she was named for.

“What have you learned?”

“For starters, I believe your client.”

“Why?”

She hesitated, as if pained by what she was going to relate. “Last year I dated a guy named George Hammond. He was a rich kid, kind of a geek, but he was okay. I essentially stalked him until he agreed to go out with me. At first I was only interested because he was pledging the fraternity. I know I was using him, but he was using me too. When he got accepted into the fraternity he told me a few of their secrets.”

“Any chance I could chat with George directly?”

She shook her head, a little violently. “Not unless we hold a séance. I’m sorry. I appreciate you speaking with me, and I don’t mean to be sarcastic. George died in a car accident. Actually, he was murdered, but I can’t prove it.”

“What did he tell you?”

“Every fall the fraternity sacrifices a girl. Their choice is based on her not having much in the way of family or money. They want someone who won’t be missed. The organs are removed as though she is to be mummified. Since there’s no pyramid to bury them in, the bodies are not wrapped or mummified or even kept.”

It was difficult to absorb what she was telling me. “That is nightmarish. What the hell do they do with the bodies?”

She jerked her shoulders up and down in a shaky shrug. “Who knows?”

Why would they do such a thing?”

She looked mournful now. “George didn’t know. It may have been to test the pledges’ loyalty to the fraternity. He said they would commit the murder at a hidden temple and that the members would have to chant ancient prayers as part of some strange ritual. The leaders of the fraternity told him that the girls’ souls were being fed to the ‘Soul Eater,’ but George didn’t think they were serious.”

“Do you believe what George told you?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

She looked me hard in the eye. “My sister is missing.

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