2 novels: one looking at pre-historic cave art in France; the other at the deeper meaning of the Holy Grail

My novel THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES is a technothriller set in the present, with some plot loops back to World War II, mostly in France, and another loop even further back, to the era of the Knights Templar, alleged guardians of the Holy Grail.

That said, let me recommend another thriller (sort of a technothriller, which I’ll explain below). THE CAVES OF PERIGORD (by Martin Walker) is also set in the present, which also loops back to a good many scenes in the World War II era, mostly in France. And there is another loop even farther back– this time back 17,000 years to the time of the creation of the pre-historic cave dwellings in southern France.

Here the “techno” part of technothriller relates to finding and establishing authenticity of those prehistoric pieces of art.

Martin Walker (day job: foreign correspondent) clearly did heavy research, not just on cave art, but on the realities of life in France during the Occupation, and on the interplay of the various political factions within the Resistance. The German SS Panzer Division, Das Reich, also plays a (not-very-pleasant) role in the story . . . as it does in THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES.

Interestingly, one of the most clicked-on pages in this blog is my reference to Max Hastings’ book, DAS REICH: The March of the Second Panzer Division Through France, which was one of the reference books I used in the background of The GRAIL CONSPIRACIES.

In a small coincidence, Max Hastings also wrote a newspaper opinion piece in a British paper at the time of the London Riots in the summer of 2011. I linked to that in a couple of earlier posts on this blog, as he describes, very astutely, the sad "army of feral youths" (his very apt term) who were immersed in those riots . . . who are also the same kind / mindset as the (fictional) worldwide army of angry misfits, followers of Twisted Messiah, the fictional rock group with political ambitions in THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES.

My post at that time was "Twisted Messiah" fan riots improbable? Reality strikes in England!

Link to the Max Hastings article in London Dail Mail on the "army of feral youths" 

Young German Neo-Nazis, fans of Twisted Messiah, and other angry young people

I was in Munich in the spring of 1992, only a couple of years after the Berlin Wall fell and East and West were reunited into one Germany.

We paused for lunch at an outdoor cafe in the shade of the Cathedral, and happened to share a table with a German lady whose profession was as a specialized translator and tour guide, primarily for business and organizational groups that had a particular interest not just in seeing the landmark sights, but even more in understanding the changes taking place in the economy and society.

First she recommended a special beer that was still brewed by monks in a monastery not far away, beer that (as I recall) was sold only here at this Cathedral cafe and at the monastery.

Then the conversation moved to the changes in the former East Germany, and her concerns of a very significant cadre of angry, disaffected young people roaming and terrorizing. I hadn't heard about that aspect of life in the new Germany, as most of the media focus was on the positive sides of the unification, or on the financial sacrifices resulting as two very different economies struggled to merge.

That image--- of roaming bands of angry, rootless youths drifting and destroying --- stuck with me, and became the model for  the fans of the fictional rock group Twisted Messiah in what would become my speculative thriller, THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES.

In fiction, I saw Twisted Messiah evolving from just another entertainment group into a world-wide political force, pulling together an "army" of disaffected young people in every nation  . . .angry young with no aims, just a craving for excitment and destruction. And I saw Twisted Messiah (and the powers behind) seeing it as the potential for a non-governmental quasi-political force.

By last summer, The Grail Conspiracies was finished and out in the world. Then life began following the book's plot, beginning with the riots in England.  I posted here in this blog:  ("Twisted Messiah" fan riots improbable? Reality strikes in England! )

"Last week across England it was as if the fictional Twisted Messiah's underground "army" had come to life in their "pre-celebrations". Fact can be at least as strange as fiction, and fiction can "pre-intuit" the facts that may come. One of the characters in The Grail Conspiracies even characterizes people like these: "those who choose to lose.""

In that same blog post I quoted some words from an article by Max Hastings, former editor of two different respected London newspapers, and author of a string of books on World War II and other political topics:

"The depressing truth is that at the bottom of our society is a layer of young people with no skills, education, values or aspirations. They do not have what most of us would call 'lives': they simply exist." And a bit later: "They have their being only in video games and street-fights, casual drug use and crime.

Another from that Max Hastings article: "So there we have it: a large, amoral, brutalised sub-culture of young British people who lack education because they have no will to learn, and skills which might make them employable. They are too idle to accept work waitressing or doing domestic labour, which is why almost all such jobs are filled by immigrants.

"They have no code of values to dissuade them from behaving anti-socially or, indeed, criminally, and small chance of being punished if they do so.

"They have no sense of responsibility for themselves, far less towards others, and look to no future beyond the next meal, sexual encounter or TV football game. "


Later in the summer came the various "Occupy" events. Initially, they were mostly peaceful sit-ins, and they did raise some valid points. (A wide variety of unformed points, some have said.) But then . . .

Now the word among the pundits of left, center, and right is that the Occupy movement has the potential of becoming a very significant force, but currently lacks direction and leadership.

Is Occupy waiting for a  leader with a direction in mind?  Let's hope that leader is not on the model of  Twisted Messiah.


Apropos the above: In Germany, a new film is causing much controversy. The title is HIDDEN HATRED and explores the world of young people in Neo-Nazi type groups. From an  article    on the young people as portrayed in the film,  in the German news magazine SPIEGEL:

"Disillusioned and disconnected, many young people are searching for simple answers, and find them and a sense of belonging in the far-right scene," [said the director of the film in an interview].

My comment: yes, exactly so.  But I think whether they go for the far-right, far-left, or far-out-whatever,  is up for grabs.  The answer may be different in different countries and different cultures.  But, again, I hope the leader (s) is/are not in the mold of Twisted Messiah.




Michael Talbot's books on the new physics, science, faith and the implications of holography

I've been posting some of the most helpful books I relied on as background for  my speculative thriller, THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES.

Three are by the late Michael Talbot, who, sadly, died at not quite age 40.  This from his bio page on his Amazon author's page:

Michael Coleman Talbot (September 29, 1953 – May 27, 1992) was an American author of several books highlighting parallels between ancient mysticism and quantum mechanics, and espousing a theoretical model of reality that suggests the physical universe is akin to a giant hologram. According to Talbot ESP, telepathy, and other paranormal phenomena are real and are a product of his holographic model of reality.

His books that I used:

MYSTICISM AND THE NEW PHYSICS.  (I used the British edition, Rutledge and Keegan Paul, 1981.)

BEYOND THE QUANTUM: How the secrets  of the new physics are bridging the chasm between science and faith.  (c) 1987, Bantam in the US.

THE HOLOGRAPHIC UNIVERSE.  (c) 1992. New paperback version published in 2011.  This also touches on Karl Pribam's application of holography in his holographic theory of the mind.

Link to Amazon's overview page of Michael Talbot's books


Max Hastings' book: DAS REICH.The March of the 2nd Panzer Division Through France

Max Hastings (now Sir Max Hastings) began his career as a war correspondent, then served as editor of two London newspapers: THE DAILY TELEGRAPH and THE EVENING STANDARD. He has also written numerous books and been involved in a variety of TV series.

That's background to his book, DAS REICH.The March of the 2nd Panzer Division Through France, American edition, Henry Holt, 1982, which gave me some relevant history on what was happening in the area around La Rochelle, France, around the time of D-Day . . . an era that formed the backdrop of my speculative thriller, THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES.

Amazon: Max Hastings DAS REICH the March of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Through France

That is the same Max Hastings I referenced in another post on this blog for his article commenting on the riots in England last summer, which, to my mind, were an eerie playing-out of the Twisted Messiah "celebrations" that occur in my THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES.  Here's a bit from that post, quoting Hastings:

The "feral humans" who partook in them did it as much for the excitment as for the goods they could steal. Sadly, "The depressing truth is that at the bottom of our society is a layer of young people with no skills, education, values or aspirations. They do not have what most of us would call 'lives': they simply exist." And a bit later: "They have their being only in video games and street-fights, casual drug use and crime.

My blog post: "Twisted Messiah" fan riots improbable? Reality strikes in England!

 Max Hastings article in London Mail online


The Nazis and the occult -- a surprise!

My speculative thriller, THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES, largely kicked off with a trip to La Rochelle, France, which was the main Atlantic port of the Knights Templar. It's a picturesque place to visit, and I highly recommend it for a  holiday.

The old harbor of the Templars is still there, and it's easy to sit at a cafe and visualize Templars moving past, carrying goods to and from their  ships.  It's also easy to visualize them at the end, when the forces of the King and Pope were closing in, racing to load their ships with the "Templar treasures"--- whatever those treasures consisted of: worldly goods, lost occult wisdom, maybe even the Holy Grail (whatever that really is).

You can sit at another cafe and look across the the Templar Commanderie (headquarters) in many ways unchanged these thousand or so years. The Templar cross still remains carved into the stone of many of the buildings around the Commanderie.

But in La Rochelle, there are also still traces of the Nazi occupation: most visibly the mammoth concrete buildings by another harbor where the German submarines came in for repair and refueling.

Those two strains--- Templars and the Nazi occupation--- fit together for the story. Note that I am not  suggesting that the Templars were in any way predecessors of the Nazis. But it seems that many in the Nazi hierarchy did, and indeed sent teams from the Ahnenerbe or "Occult Bureau" to look for clues . . . and perhaps even the Grail itself.

In the summer of 1943, as one instance, an Ahnenerbe team scoured the area around the last Cathar fortress at Montsegur, south and inland of La Rochelle, looking for the Holy Grail or other supposed secrets of the Cathars. (Mind you, this was in the middle of the war, so it was not as if they were looking for a training exercise to keep the troops occupied.)

This isn't the place to go into  detail, but both the Templars and the Cathars (also known as Albigensians)  were declared heretics because of their supposedly unorthodox beliefs --- and because of envy of their rumored "unlimited wealth." (It was rumored that the Templars were also alchemists! Horrors to the orthodoxy!)

Both groups were alleged to be custodians of the Holy Grail; by one account, the Grail was spirited off the mountaintop that was the fortress of Montsegur, and entrusted to the Templars for safe-keeping away from the hands of the forces of the Papacy and the temporal kings.

It seems that the Nazi team did not find much of any of the Cathar (or Templar) hidden wisdom.

But who might have, how, and what that secret knowledge consisted of is the core of THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES.  (Warning: plot point. Among the bad guys in my book are the followers of the rock-group Twisted Messiah, a neo-Nazi force leading an "army" of rootless, malevolent angry young people.)


The surprise I promised: When I started writing this note on some of the books I used in researching it, I looked them up on Amazon to see if they were still available. And I was shocked at what I saw.

One example: Michael Fitzgerald's STORM TROOPERS OF SATAN: An Occult History of the Second World War is now offered new on Amazon at prices ranging from $849 to $1061, and used at $198 and up. Those prices are not misprints! 

Amazon: Fitzgerald's STORM TROOPERS OF SATAN  (The edition I used was published by Robert Hale, London, (c) 1980.)

Another was Dusty Sklar's THE NAZIS AND THE OCCULT. (c) 1977, sorry I don't have it at hand so don't know the publisher. I think mine was the British edition. Amazon carries it under the title GODS AND BEASTS: THE NAZIS AND THE OCCULT. When I looked, the only copy available was offered at $250, new.  Amazon: Dusty Sklar's THE NAZIS AND THE OCCULT

In Sklar's book this fascinating, chilling, and all-too-true quotation from Hitler: "What luck for the rulers that men do not think."


About an hour's drive east and inland from La Rochelle are the remains of the small French village of Oradour. On a sunny June Saturday in 1944, a Nazi SS team rounded up everyone in the village and killed them in retaliation for the work of the French Resistance in killing one SS officer. I don't recall the exact number of villagers killed, but it was arond 500 men, women, even children.

The village has been left just as it was, and you can walk the streets and look in at the remains of the butcher's and baker's shops, and the church were the last were rounded up. You'll see rusting cars and cycles that the owners never drove again.

And, as I did, you'll wonder what Force drove the Nazi mindset to the bloodshed of innocents like that. STORM TROOPERS OF SATAN -- Fitzgerald's book title sums it up, it seems to me.

When I got home, I read Robin Mackness' account of it in  MASSACRE AT ORADOUR, (c) 1988.

Amazon: Robin Mackness. MASSACRE AT ORADOUR

THE MURDERED MAGICIANS: The Templars and their Myth, by Peter Partner

In my research before starting to write the speculative thriller, THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES, I read and reread Peter Partner's THE MURDERED MAGICIANS: The Templars and their Myth

As a matter of fact, I ended up buying the same book twice, and passed it on to one of my undercover sources for all sorts of interesting and weird stuff, whose name is Larry Crum.

Amazon: THE MURDERED MAGICIANS: The Templars and their Myth

THE OCCULT CONSPIRACY: the Secret History of Mystics, Templars, Masons and Occult Societies. By Michael Howard

In my researches before  starting to write my speculative thriller, THE GRAIL CONSPIRACIES, this is one of the books that I relied on significantly in my early readings on the background of the Knights Templar (or Templars), and other occult or secret societies.

In the British edition which I used (Rider  and company, 1989) the title is : THE OCCULT CONSPIRACY: the Secret History of Mystics, Templars, Masons and Occult Societies.

There is also an American edition, also 1989, though with a slightly different title: The Occult Conspiracy: Secret Societies--Their Influence and Power in World History.

Both are by Michael Howard.

Amazon: The Occult Conspiracy: Secret Societies--Their Influence and Power in World History