Gabriel Ross Series: Two-Faced Woman Chapters 9, 10, 11

Chapter 9: 34 Great Power (Dà Zhuàng)

An article about human trafficking starts the chapter.

Gabriel and Joel pick up Veronica and her cat, Bella. Veronica explains how the building is still having problems due to a recent superstorm, and now the meth lab has caused more chaos. She mentions she is working with Danny on trying to get the landlord to make necessary repairs. Gabriel gets her set up in his apartment. Joel offers to take her in, but Gabriel wants to make up for his friendship neglect.

The next morning, he and Veronica discuss the idea of combining their businesses, to remain independent but help each other. Later, Gabriel receives an email from Alex upbraiding him over leaving Alex at the restaurant. Alex is going out of town and Gabriel is glad he doesn’t have to deal with it right now.

What he is doing is taking Joel to Black Mountain in New Jersey, to look at Don Mathers’ supposed suicide site. Joel has brought him gifts to renew Gabriel’s connection to Taoism. On the drive to NJ, Gabriel talks about having lost his way and his regrets from the violent incident in Bunton with the preacher. Joel doesn’t think he should have regrets.

The park is deserted and starting to show winter weather. Gabriel finds the tree and feels strongly the suicide was faked. Joel agrees with him. And then Gabriel senses they are not alone.

Someone starts shooting at them. Gabriel has to figure out how to get them away safe, and track the shooter to stop him. He directs Joel to come up behind the shooter and Gabriel approaches from the other way. The shooter, finding himself outgunned, tries to run and Gabriel tackles him. A brutal fight breaks out, but with Joel’s help the shooter is disarmed and tied. Gabriel then leads him back, realizing that another person must be there to back up the shooter. This proves to be true, and Gabriel uses his own shooting skills to capture this man as well.

Having brought the two to authorities, Gabriel contemplates the meaning of what’s going on. Gabriel feels Don is behind this–trafficking women, killing his brother. He feels he must drag the devil into the open.

Chapter 10: 5 Waiting (Xū)

Another bad dream for Gabriel. But he’s fresh at work at the Women’s Freedom Network to go through some files looking for victims possibly connected to Don. He recognizes a name. Monroe and Frank help, but Frank realizes some privacy violations may occur. Monroe offers to review the files first to help out. Frank says he appreciates Gabriel not taking the concerns personally.

Then he and Joel are going to visit an art history professor, Sabrina Wheatley, at Prentice-Cane College. She knew Leonard and Leonard’s girlfriend, Sara. Wheatley is cautious, protecting Sara. However, she is disarmed by realizing she knew and liked Gabriel’s uncle Dominic.

Sara is on a leave of absence for her safety, but Gabriel convinces Wheatley to call her and arrange for an interview. As Sara is very troubled from some trauma, Gabriel brings Veronica into the mix to handle being the contact for Sara.

Meanwhile, Monroe has found some notes from Charlotte Merical–while the originals have disappeared from storage, copies were in a legal file. Monroe gives them to Gabriel. The notes prove Charlotte spoke to Leonard shortly before she was killed. Gabriel also contacts a detective on Charlotte’s case about what’s going on.

Chapter 11: 8 Union (Bǐ)

Gabriel, Veronica, and Joel return to Prentice-Cane to speak to Sara. She is frightened but warms to Veronica. She begins telling how she met Leonard, how she disliked Professor Devanović, and how Don Mathers threatened her and Leonard. In fact, Don broke into her apartment and physically attacked her. Leonard saved her in the nick of time and sent her away.

Sara remembers something telling in what Don said to her while he was attacking her. She asks the three of them to reassure her that they do not hate women, prompting Joel to disclose a story about a young woman he lived with in his teens, in which he took care of her and her baby after she died.

Sara is able to tell them that Don specifically mentioned an altar that would defile Leonard’s altar. Gabriel immediately knows what this means.

They leave for Wildmore, and go in the same way as Gabriel did with Bob. A new lock is on the door. This time they go to the opposite wing from where Leonard’s rooms were. The dark, foreboding room feels different–evil. And inside they find several bodies–destroyed, torn apart. Women who Don has murdered.

This horrifying discovery propels them out the building, and to call Michaela. She in turn handles the police arriving. She and Gabriel feel this could help Sophie if reported the right way, and Gabriel calls Alex. Alex gives him a hard time, but ultimately shows up with his protege, Clark.

Alex and Clark interview everyone and Gabriel is relieved the story is going out. He is surprised by Alex’s showing concern over what Gabriel has gone through in finding the bodies, but puts off talking to him more seriously. Right now, he feels that the women have been helped in some way by being set free.

Between the Pages:

  • For Gabriel, this is more than finding Don’s secret, or a motive for Leonard’s murder. It’s more than discovering a new serial killer on the loose. It’s seeing hatred in action. An underlying point of the crimes committed in this story are about the crimes committed against women period, especially motivated by hatred of women. Sex trafficking, murder, discrimination. Fear and hatred of women has always been here. Women have always been exploited and suppressed, made to feel that they are either lesser or evil or both. They have been erased from history through lack of telling their stories, or crafting their stories as political correctness gone awry. This still goes on in the current political and social arena–from Gamergate, to campus sexual assault, to real life serial killings continuing in Mexico and Canada, murders of trans women, assault on women’s freedoms for their bodies, and on and on on.
  • Is Gabriel taking on this responsibility paternalistic? I don’t think so. It’s his accepting that as someone in the imbalance of power, he has a responsibility to address wrongs where he can, to step up for others. Those in power have a higher standard to be held to. It’s why he steps up for transgender persons, bi persons, or anyone else he is not. Ignoring it as someone else’s responsibility is not the way to live. 
  • I mention this as writing about women being assaulted and murdered is not easy. It is a fine line not to be exploitative, but to retain the horror of what was done to them and to acknowledge they are each persons who deserved better. And to see this as an allegory of violence to women in general.

Questions for Readers:

Violence against women is a topic that brings up so much vitriol, as if not being violent, hateful, discriminatory, sexist, or misogynistic was somehow controversial.  The reasoning tends to be that a particular act or something said was not in fact hateful, misogynistic, etc. or some straw man about having to be a decent human being is enforced political correctness and violates free speech, etc. etc. Not to mention the accusations that women just lie, or deserve what happens to them, etc. etc. etc.

Anyway. When, or if, you discuss difficult topics with people, how do you bring it up? How do you approach dialogue? When is the line drawn to where you feel it’s not worth arguing anymore?


This is another set of events that call for more instrumentals. In a sense, words cannot bring anything to the overwhelming surrealness of what Gabriel, Veronica, and Joel discover in Wildemore. The music of Hans Zimmer  may convey that. Real life horror can take on dreamlike qualities when it is too much.