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Dwayne Murray, Sr.

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Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold!
by Dwayne Murray, Sr.   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Saturday, September 15, 2007
Posted: Monday, September 10, 2007

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By Angela Crafton-Murray, LCSW-P

“La Vengeance est un plat qui se mange froid!” In 1782 Pierre Ambroise Francios Choderios de Laclos originally coined this French phrase in his book titled Les Liaisons Dangereuses. In the English language the phrase is translated to, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” By definition revenge involved retaliation and vengeance: action taken in return for an injury or offense¹. It’s a direct action against a person or group in response to a perceived wrongdoing. In some communities, it is believed that the injury inflicted in revenge should be greater than the original one, as a punitive measure.

In the urban suspense novel, by self-published author Dwayne Murray, Sr., Whatever It Takes the theme culminated the very essence of revenge and retaliation. Whatever It Takes bought to life the reality the biblical phrase “an eye for an eye”. One may question; could a series of unfortunate events create such vendettas in one’s psyche? Can revenge construct sequences of well thought out plans of reciprocated violence? Does revenge festers in one’s soul like a boil that’s ready to burst? Dwayne Murray’s sophomore novel brings to the forefront just how powerful, exhausting, and life consuming revenge can be. Whatever It Takes is an urban suspense novel that magnifies is raw form what vengeance, retaliation and retribution mean to two of the most diabolical brothers; Butch and Zig Steel.

The story of the Steel brothers is one of true perplexity. Butch and Zig Steel were raised in a middle-class neighborhood with both middle-class working parents. Their father Pete Steel was a blue-collar union worker and their mother Simone Steel was a registered nurse for many years. The boys attended private school and were raised as respectful God fearing human beings. Unfortunately, a very traumatic event altered the lives of the Steel brothers in the most profound way. In a blink of the eye the two young brothers’ paradigm shifted from love and respect to hatred and punishment.

Ponder this…Is revenge sometimes
justified? If so, how far does one go to obtain it? In the case of the Steel brothers, their acts of violence may be seen as an act of defense due to the terrible treatment they endured following a significant loss. Those closest to Butch and Zig vowed to care for them and never turn their back on them. It all turned out to be an empty promise because the brothers became wards of the state until they were of age. Let’s ask the question again. Is revenge sometimes justified? It’s important to remember that Butch and Zig were raised to honor the laws of the Bible. The laws clearly stated “an eye for an eye” and “blood for blood”. It is incomprehensible to see how two young, impressionable and very vulnerable boys would believe it’s their right to retaliate? Adults often have difficulty working through revenge and they are suppose to know better, but what happens when it’s a child whose feelings of loss is severe and revenge is the only cure for the pain? Philosopher Martha Nussbaum discussed the psychological and moral foundation for revenge:

"The primitive sense of the just starts from the notion that a human life…is a vulnerable thing, a thing that can be invaded, wounded, violated by another’s act in many ways. For this penetration, the only remedy that seems appropriate is a counter invasion, retribution must be exactly, strictly proportional to the original encroachment. It differs from the original act only in the sequence of time and in the fact that it is a response rather than the original act---a fact frequently obscured if there is a long sequence of acts and counteracts (p.157-158)"

Self published author Dwayne Murray, Sr. bring the question of revenge to the forefront. Some readers may feel strongly against the hell Butch and Zig Steel unleashes on their prey, while others may actually sympathetic to their circumstances. One aspect all readers can identify with is that life after a tragedy is a tough road to navigate. We all live with life’s battle-scars; wounds to deep to mention. Most of us use traditional ways to cope, such as legal recourse, forgiveness and reconciliation while others main focal point is retaliation.

Dwayne Murray, Sr. seriously stepped out of the box with his book Whatever It Takes. The story is action packed and a definite page turner. Mr. Murray gave birth to remarkable characters readers would enjoy meeting. This novel is riddled with twists and turns, suspense and drama it would be difficult to put it down even for one minute. Whatever It Takes is a novel that’s stands on its own. It is so very different from other urban novel in terms of story, back stories along with intriguing characters. If readers are looking for a change of pace, pick up Whatever It Takes you will not be disappointed.

¹Nussbaum, Martha; Sex and Social Justice, “Equity and Mercy”, page 157-158,
Oxford University Press (1999).

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Reviewed by m j hollingshead 1/1/2008
well said

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