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.

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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 Invention of Man

A new novel about Michael McGeraughty, proprietor of A Republic of Books, and how he lit out for the territories to see if his country was actually worth saving, or if the soul had left the body and the rot taken hold.


The prolegomenon to a journey

but there are more things dreamt of


Once, I told an editor at Houghton Mifflin, at that time still a great publishing house but no longer a home for such wild ideas as once flowed freely in the days of Emerson and Thoreau, that the novel must reform itself, or be dead. The novel must reshape itself and become what it once promised to be when Homer lived and lived again at the campfires of war and the hearth of the home. Because he was a gentleman, civilized in the way most editors can be, he was kind enough to ignore my ranting and suggested the novel was indeed in flux but would never be the same again. But I was a child of such thoughts, and insisted on my belief, saying that the novel must be the fountainhead of man’s very being, else we are only what nature made us, food for the darker gods and a diet for worms.

As I remember, it was a mercifully short conversation.

Given to such opinion, I had further extrapolated that history itself was a child of the novel, as Homer was a father to Herodotus. I believe this is just about where the discourse ended. The firm was a great publisher of history, and my conjecture was likely an affront to their pretensions. Yet, now older if not wiser, I will repeat my thought. And worse.

The Republic is dead. Two hundred and thirty-four years after Ben Franklin issued his warning on the occasion of its beginning, we couldn’t keep it.

         The Republic is dead. To pretend otherwise after the government usurpations of authority in recent years would be delusional, which I certainly have been. I wanted to believe otherwise. But this state of affairs has been true at least since shortly after September 11, 2001, and the panicked passage of an unconstitutional Patriot Act and increased during the erstwhile war on terror, which has since been so terribly lost.

         True, much of the public is unaware, “I didn’t even know it was sick,” they might say, preoccupied as they always are with earning a living and cleaning the gutters—but this is usually the case, until it isn’t. Remember, the farmers of New Jersey, prosperous and happy as they were, could not care less about the revolution in 1776 until the British troops in their New York winter quarters, began to forage for the necessary food for their horses and the forces of the American rebellion began working to deprive them of that necessary treat.

         Before a dark age of technologically enhanced authoritarian rule descends—an age that I believe will not soon end—this brief time of passage must be taken as a last opportunity to recover our lost liberty. But what can the minority who are aware of their loss do? Certainly, any attempt at forcing the issue through violent revolution would only deepen the tragedy and coalesce support of the majority around the status quo. What then, can be done?

read more…

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…

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