The Dark Heart of Night

New Serial Novel

Each week, a new chapter of The Dark Heart of Night will be posted here and made available in the Novels sections of the site. The novel will soon be available for sale as an ebook and through print-on-demand.

1. Sunday, March 14, 1937

Now that I’ll have a little time on my hands, at least for the next couple of days, maybe I can try this again. There’s a lot going on, but it’s an easier thing to do if you don’t have to get to work.

Depending on what you read in the newspapers, or listen to on the radio, there are about twenty million people out of work in this country right now, give or take a few. The government says the number is only 8 million or so. But like Dad says, it’s not the numbers that are unemployed. It’s the people. The numbers are doing fine. And I’ll bet over a million of those human beings are right here in New York. And even if this is only roughly true, and I think it’s shy a few warm bodies, none of the arithmetic accounts for the women, the kids, the cripples, or the old folks. None of that accounts for people working crap jobs, part-time, just to eat the ‘day-old’ when they get home. None of those numbers account for ruined lives and lost dreams.

But that’s not me. Not yet!

I’m named after my dad’s little brother, Hugh McNeill, who died of scarlet fever in 1896. He was just a boy and never had his chance. Giving his name to me was done out of respect, I know, but early on I took it to be a challenge–that I was meant to live enough for the two of us. You can get ideas like that when you are young. They are hard to shake. But then, there are those who don’t even want to live the once.

read more

Novels & Novellas Available for Purchase

The Dark Heart of Night

The Dark Heart of Night

New York. 1937. Murder before breakfast. A beer and a beating for lunch. Just don’t be late for dinner or a deadline.


I Am William McGuire

I Am William McGuire

It’s a bloody Cro-Magnon world.
What’s a Neanderthal to do?


A Slepyng Hound to Wake

A Slepyng Hound to Wake

Leaving well enough alone is not good enough at all—not if the reason for a death is to be found in the life that was lost.


Henry Sullivan has made a simpler life for himself, finding and selling books. There is little room in it for either love or murder.


More Fiction

The Keeper Jones: Weeds in the tall grass

[If you liked the previous posting, here’s another from that novel, now renamed The Keeper Jones ]


The fact of the matter was, he did not like people. Simple as that. They were generally mean, smelly, short sighted, lazy, dull, boring and boorish creatures who were always wanting someone else to do something for them and unwilling to take responsibility for whatever they did themselves. Not much different than most other creatures, perhaps, but HE was one of them. That was, in and of itself, the most irritating part of it. There was no cause for him to impose himself on anyone else so long as he could take refuge here. He had stated this fact over and again. How many times. He was always receiving a proposal from one lonely lady or another. Especially since his brother had posted Keeper’s vitals on some bulletin board someplace as a joke and that was now spread from Titan to Venus Prime. One of his friends had even sent him a parody of the thing that appeared on a vid and had its own legs. Now, he was a joke. His quest for quiet and contemplative life was a punchline. All he wanted to do was be left alone and this simple fact had been turned into hash. read more…

The Keeper Jones

[A new tidbit that might amuse from an older story to be readied for publication someday soon.]


April flowers: 2317



He usually wore an Irish tweed cap. This singular fact had become something of a trademark among his friends when sitting in on vid conferences. ‘Mad Hatter,’ was one nickname. ‘Cap’ was another. However, he referred to himself simply as ‘Keeper.’ His birth name, Dalton Jones, was little known and he wanted to keep at least that much to himself. But wearing the cap was a necessity. At six foot four inches he was three inches over regulation for the corps whose martial needs had dictated construction standards for most spacecraft, and every hatch and doorway was a potential bludgeon for his head. He would bear several of those scars to his grave. But his head was also larger than most and he had always been uncomfortable in the thermal topee favored by most outlanders—never mind the tendency toward fashion with such headgear which greatly added to the deterrent as far as he was concerned.

He ducked beneath the transom of his home and, looking out on the farm, stood still in the quiet for a brief moment. It was April. At last. Knowing where he was headed, he breathed deeply of the smells of the soil and the admixture of new leaves and blossoming. He could hear the bees. read more…


A friend was recently reading the revised version of John Finn that appears to be making its way into print sooner than later and suggested that a particular chapter might stand on its own. It happens to be one of those I posted first about eight years ago when John Finn was newly minted apart from its origins in the Henry Sullivan Hound novels. Long absent from view, I was happy to oblige. read more…

A Young Man From Mars: the future retold

“Those who cannot remember the future are condemned to repeat it. The past can never be repaired or reclaimed. The future may be reimagined at any moment, possessed at any time, and thus easily known.”   Joe Trees

This is the journal of Griffon Macdonald, his expedition to Earth, and what he found there; being also an accounting of some other matters learnt during that doctoral investigation into mankind’s persistent use of slavery as a means.

Offered here with additional records from the Council Court of Inquiry as well as the emendations and notes of his brother Robert.

It is said that after two-hundred years Joe Trees still lives somewhere amidst the forests of Mars. It is a legend, a myth perhaps, but a tale retold often enough to have its own life. It is believed that men do not live so long, so perhaps he is no longer a man.

# August 19, 2267: the origin and cause of my zetetic

From various sources, but mostly the words of my father, I have fashioned here a short account of an ancient relative, Flora Macdonald—Fionnghal nic Dhòmhnaill in the old Gaelic. She was the daughter of Ranald MacDonald a tenant farmer of Milton, which is on the island of South Uist in the Hebrides, an archipelago close by to the northern reaches of Scotland, on Earth, and of his wife Marion, herself the daughter of Angus MacDonald. It is thus that our clan was from the one root, though the MacDonalds were prolifically spread throughout those lands. Flora was born about 1722. It was her father’s unfortunate death when she was yet two years old that brought on the wooing of a cousin from the Isle of Skye for the affections of her widowed mother.

Now Marion had small property of her own but was a great beauty and even more than that a woman of adamantine will. She was not interested in this cousin. However that be, the cousin, Hugh Macdonald of Armadale on the isle of Skye, would not put off his love and finally kidnapped Flora’s mother by force, as well as Flora who was then the youngest of the children and still unweaned, and carried them off to his home across the near sea to the Isle of Skye. This was often the way of those times. And thus, Flora was raised among this other sect of her clan, amidst greater fortunes, even to be educated in language and math and the truths of the Bible and that stern God and the ways of the Kirk, as was the manner of the Scots of the time. But Flora never lost the sense of where she was from, nor of the sentiments of her true father—these things being kept for her by her mother’s heart. And when Flora was old enough she returned on visits to her older brother who had maintained the family stead and managed to buy some of his own land as well on the Isle of Benbecula.

It was during one such visit and on a particular morning when Flora had been gathering seaweed at the rocky shore for her brother’s furrows and the air was thickened by the vapor of a steel grey ocean, that a pitiful young man and his companion appeared out of the veil of mist seeking refuge from the numbing cold. The fog could not conceal this man’s fear, nor his bearing. The Stuart claim to the throne had failed at bloody Culloden some months before and now the Hanoverian troops were hounding the rightful prince of Britain, Charles Edward Stuart, to those ends of the Earth. Flora had little use for such a ‘Prince without a palace.’ Though a daring horseman, a fine bowman, and the master of five tongues, he must yet have been a sad sight in battered britches and broken shoes.

Flora’s own stepfather, who had taken the winning side, was a captain in the search. But something else was now at work. She knew her own sentiments, and that the faith of her true father were in the Stuart cause. It was being said, ‘any that helped the fugitive Jacobite would suffer punishment,’ and few others could find the courage to risk what little they had, only to trade masters, or just to be hung for the difference.

But the young prince was a symbol to many. And symbols are more important when the facts are hard against. read more…

Latest Blog Posts

The Invention of Man: a novel

[ Sequel to A Republic of Books] In love, but broke, the sixty-eight-year-old bookseller, Michael McGeraughty, has converted a fifty-year-old camper-trailer to a small bookshop of about 1500 volumes, to be pulled by his thirty-year-old pick-up truck. His idea is to be...

An annotated browser

  In ancient times, using a pen name, I wrote a series of short-short stories for use as one-page advertisements, under the heading ‘An annotated browser,’ to promote the shop. These are a few examples.   Counterpane          It is an established fact in the...

Biedermeier lives!

Biedermeier: his identity, both mistaken and true is now available in paperback and Kindle from the great and powerful Amazon. From the back cover: Otto Biedermeier, the Hollywood icon and B-movie legend, was murdered by his wife, Mysterious Circumstances. Tom Lenz, a...

‘The Decision’

I don’t know many libertarians. There aren’t a lot to know out here in the boondocks. Mostly it’s the same mix of people I knew in Boston, just fewer of them. And even the few libertarians I am aware of locally are not given to too much conversation. They are well...

About William McGuire and other unexpected stories

The original plan, as plans often do, went awry. Two of the stories I had hoped to include with the print edition of the novella, I Am William McGuire, did not work out as hoped. Most of the shorter material I write is intended as backgound or continuity for...

About Resolution 451

A dialog. “What’s this?” “What?” “This ‘Resolution 451’ business.” “Not a business. Just a revolution. Like a New Year’s revolution.” “You mean resolution.” “Well, yes, but it’s a revolting matter to have to deal with after all the ages..” “How so? What’s the matter?”...

An article of confederation

Years ago, in the midst of my bookshop battles and as some psychological relief, I began writing a comedy which was then entitled ‘Knox Books’ as both a homage to the great Boston bookseller of revolutionary days as well as a ‘play’ on the homophone ‘knocks.’ Such...

A Time for Books

I have finally done something I had promised to do here years ago. But it is posted at the Bookshop site under 'annotations.'