This is the novel that took me the entire last summer to read. It's not that it was too difficult. At 599 pages, it's not the longest novel I've ever read (although it felt like 900 pages). Plus, I'm a fast reader, averaging a book a week. The problems with Our Lady of Dreams were manifold, but boil down to two problems. First, the book is written by an author, Chanson Duvall, who not only admits to being a rank amateur using a nom de plume, but writing is not even his main craft. Duvall ("song of the valley") lives in Phoenix, AZ. where he is a self-described mystic and teaches meditation and enlightenment to his students. Crafting a well-written novel is not his specialty, and it shows.
The second problem with Our Lady of Dreams is that it's two books in one. It purports to be a murder mystery about a young guru, John Paul Marconi, who is murdered in the Big Bear mountain area near Los Angeles. A young district attorney, Katherine Marconi, who just happens to be the victim's sister, is following the case with police investigator, Pete Hanson. Katherine discovers a diary written by the top suspect, Thomas Mattkins, who also happens to be a star football player.
It's this diary that intrudes on the whole flow of the book, becoming a volume in itself. It's really not much of a diary, although it starts out that way. However, it becomes a primer on Eastern philosophy: how to meditate, the meaning of the chakras, the lives and guises of the various gods and ascended masters, and a detailed description on how to attain kundalini ecstasy (a type of meditative perfection that very few masters have achieved). Along the way, Mattkins explains how he met John Paul, how he became his devoted disciple, and how he nearly worshiped him, but all that seems besides the point. Katherine has sworn to Mattkins that she won't divulge anything in the diaries to police or lawyers, so how can the writings help him?