‘The Rockland Horror 3’ is out!

The third installment of The Rockland Horror saga is now available on Amazon:

The 20th century holds new horrors for Rockland, Indiana!

The year is 1917. In faraway Europe, the Great War rages on. The world waits anxiously to see if U.S. President Woodrow Wilson will take America into the conflict.

By now, the events of 1882 are fading into the stuff of legend, for all but the town of Rockland’s oldest residents.

But a few still remember what happened.

And the old horrors are back. A road excavation on Washington Hill unearths a ghastly mass grave on the grounds of the unoccupied and decaying Briggs House.

Meanwhile, the house draws an infamous (but never identified or captured) serial killer. The Briggs House inspires him to kill again…and again.

Join the 75-year-old Bill Cartwright, the middle-aged Louisa Goodwin Daniels, and Constable Elias Conklin, as they fight a terrifying and climactic battle with the dark forces of the Briggs House.

Evil things from the first chapter to the last!

View THE ROCKLAND HORROR 3 on Amazon!

Horror sequels and haunted office buildings

Book 3 of The Rockland Horror saga is now live on Amazon. There will also be a Book 4. (I already have the basic story mapped out, in fact.)  At present, though, I’m working on a sequel to Eleven Miles of Night.

Eleven Miles of Night is set in 2013, and was published in that year. The next book in what will become the Jason Kelley series will take place eight years later, in 2021. It will involve Jason’s re-entry into the world of paranormal research.

(You may recall that Jason swore off paranormal research at the end of Eleven Miles of Night, because he was so shaken by what he encountered on the Shaman’s Highway.)

In the next book, Jason’s challenge will be not a haunted road, but a haunted office building.

Why an office building? Oh, trust me, office buildings can be very creepy after-hours. And I have a very creepy one planned for Book 2 in the Jason Kelley series.

If you haven’t yet read Eleven Miles of Night, now might be a good time to do so!

‘Blood Flats’ sequel in the works

A number of readers have asked me if there will ever be a sequel to Blood Flats. Lee McCabe’s long, gun-blazing flight through the badlands of Kentucky remains one of my more popular stories, even though this was my first novel.

As it so happens, I have been giving this some thought. In fact, I am working on a new series based on the 2011 novel.

I began Blood Flats in 2009/2010; and that is the approximate timeframe in which the novel is set. In the original story, Lee McCabe is a twenty-something former marine, recently returned from Operation Iraqi Freedom. The action in Blood Flats begins when Lee is blamed for a drug-related double homicide that he did not commit. Lee faces deadly opponents on both sides of the law as he fights to clear his name.

The new series will fast-forward into the present. Lee will be working in law enforcement in Kentucky. (Of course, he will now be in his thirties, rather than his twenties.)

I have an outline, though I’m not ready to reveal too many details just yet. If you were a fan of the television series Justified, starring Timothy Olyphant, I think you’ll like the upcoming series based on Blood Flats, starring Lee McCabe.

The first book in the series should be out in the fall of 2021. More details to follow.

In the meantime, now would be a good time to read the original story, if you haven’t done so already.

New book: ‘1120 Dunham Drive’

I’ve launched a new series: Clint and Jennifer Huber Mysteries. These novels are classified in the “amateur sleuth’ category. 

The first book in the series, 1120 Dunham Drive is out. 

Amazon description:

Introducing Clint and Jennifer Huber: amateur sleuths who must investigate a very personal mystery—the web of obsession, betrayal, and violence surrounding their “dream house” at 1120 Dunham Drive.

The problems begin with a former owner who refuses to leave quietly, and strange disturbances during the middle of the night.

Oh, and there’s something sinister about a room in the basement.

1120 Dunham Drive is a suburban mystery/thriller that will keep you guessing to the last page.

***

Preview the book below!

Chapter 1

Summer, 2014

To thirty-four-year-old Jennifer Huber, the house at 1120 Dunham Drive seemed pretty close to perfect. If only, she would later think, there had been something wrong with it—something that would have sent her and her husband Clint running, never to return.

That wasn’t the way things worked out, though. On a sun-scorched Saturday afternoon in mid-July, the house at 1120 Dunham Drive drew the Hubers in.

Or at least the house drew Jennifer in. The seduction began in earnest in the realtor’s car, as Jennifer, Clint, and Tom Jarvis (the realtor) pulled into the driveway.

“It’s a Tudor!” Jennifer exclaimed.

“And what would that be?” Clint asked.

“This style of home,” Jennifer replied. “This is what they call a Tudor-style home.”

Jennifer had a fairly extensive knowledge of residential architecture, and she had studied the house’s spec sheet on the Internet the previous night. So she already knew that this would be a Tudor-style home. Her surprise had been feigned: It had simply been a gambit to prod Clint into showing some more enthusiasm about what they were doing today.

“You’ve got to admit, hon: It looks good from the road.”

“It’s a good-looking house,” Clint allowed.

Built in 1940, the house had a look that was simultaneously homey and classic: It had steeply pitched gables (a prerequisite of the neo-Tudor style), decorative half-timbering on the exterior walls, and brick inlays around the ground-floor windows.

“Let’s have a look-see,” Tom Jarvis said, turning off the engine of his Lexus and opening the front driver’s side door. Jennifer didn’t wait for either Jarvis or Clint.  As soon as the vehicle was parked, she was out of the overly air-conditioned back seat and racing ahead of the two men.

“It looks like somebody really wants a house,” she heard Jarvis say conspiratorially to Clint.

Who wouldn’t want a new house? Jennifer thought. That’s the sort of thing we work for, after all.

That thought reminded her of the job she hated and the secret that kept her bound there. She pushed these thoughts away. Today was a happy occasion. She wasn’t going to think about her job at Ohio Excel Logistics. Not on a Saturday afternoon like this.

“Check this out,” Jennifer said, pulling her husband Clint by the hand. “Japanese maples.”

The front garden did indeed have three Japanese maples, plus several small pine trees, and a whole lot of ivy. It was the sort of landscaping that took years to develop—either that, or a whole lot of money.

“Connor would like the yard,” Jennifer observed as Tom Jarvis bent down and retrieved the key from the lockbox on the front door.

“He probably would,” Clint replied.

“And best of all, it’s in the Mydale school district.”

Their son, Connor, was going to be a first-grader in a mere two months. The public schools in Mydale were regarded as the best in the Cincinnati area.

And then there was the most important thing about the house—the factor that made this a real possibility: The asking price of the home at 1120 Dunham Drive was within the Hubers’ range. Most of the homes in Mydale were a lot pricier.

By now Jarvis had unlocked the door. He smiled and held the door open for them.

Jarvis smiled again as Jennifer walked by and looked down. He wasn’t overly obvious about it, but the realtor had clearly taken the opportunity to check her body out.

It wasn’t the first such glance that she had noticed from the real estate agent. Nor was it all in her imagination. Clint had remarked the other day that Jarvis had taken so many liberties with his eyes during their real estate office meetings and home viewing excursions, that he owed them an additional ten percent off the asking price of whatever house they eventually settled on. 

She asked Clint if it made him jealous—Jarvis looking at her that way. Clint had scoffed in reply: Jarvis was an old guy, basically harmless.

Jarvis was indeed older than them, maybe in his mid- to late-forties. He was balding and could have dropped ten pounds; but he still carried himself with the swagger of an ex-jock. Jarvis had probably been a “hound” back in the day; and his manner strongly suggested that he still considered himself a claimant to that title.

As Jennifer walked into the cool house and out of the midsummer heat, Jarvis closed the door and briefly loomed over her. He finally looked away, but not before allowing himself a furtive glance down her blouse.

Okay, that one was a bit much, she thought, but did not say.

Since roughly the age of thirteen, Jennifer had noticed that a large number of men noticed her. That seemed to go along with being thin, blonde, and reasonably pretty. Most of the time it wasn’t a big deal; and for a period of her life it had been undeniably flattering.

But she had been married for most of a decade. She was a mom now; and she was devoted to Clint.

Or at least she thought she was. Would a woman who was totally devoted to her husband and son get herself into the jam she was in at work?

Is there something wrong with me? she wondered. Do I give off the wrong signals?

Her unpleasant thoughts were pushed aside by the interior of the house. The front hall was high-ceilinged and spacious. Their footsteps echoed on the hardwood floor. Unlike many older houses, this house wasn’t dark and dingy. Quite the opposite, in fact. The windows of the downstairs flooded the first floor with natural light.

“I think I love this house.” Jennifer declared, setting aside what she knew to be her habitual skepticism about being sold anything at all. Clint, who was standing beside her, gave her a curious look.

Then the realtor said what Clint must have been thinking:

“Well, Mrs. Huber, you’ve only just seen the front yard and the front hallway. But that’s a good start.”   

It’s like he doesn’t want me to get my hopes up, she thought. They had toured numerous homes with Tom Jarvis—most of them homes that Jennifer and Clint had preselected through exhaustive, late-night Internet searches. Practically none of those homes had given her instantly warm and fuzzy feelings.

But this one did. And Jarvis wasn’t exactly right about her having seen only the front yard and the front hallway. Having spotted this house online and grasped its potential, Jennifer had pored over the available photographs of its interior and landscaping. She had bookmarked the home’s portfolio in her web browser, and had returned to it numerous times, in fact.

 

On the drive over from the realty office, Tom Jarvis had said that the situation surrounding this house was “complicated”. He had started to explain; but apparently the act of giving an explanation was complicated, too.

“For now let’s just keep our options open,” he’d said. But what exactly did that mean? Was Tom Jarvis planning to ultimately steer them toward another house? Maybe a turkey of a house that could only be unloaded on a naïve young couple making their first home purchase?

Well, she thought, the unknown motives of a self-serving and mildly lecherous real estate agent were not going to dissuade her if this house turned out to be as perfect as it seemed. Real estate agents were always working their angles, she’d heard. None of them, she had been warned by friends, were to be trusted.

She didn’t want to make a negative generalization about an entire profession. Still, she and Clint would have to be careful. The Internet was filled with horror stories about dishonest and prevaricating real estate agents. Tom Jarvis knew they were first-time homebuyers. That might lead him to the conclusion that they could be easily led.

One thing was undeniable: For some reason, Tom Jarvis didn’t want them to purchase this house.

‘The Rockland Horror’: multigenerational horror saga

Available now!

Hey, I’ve got a new horror series coming out. The first book will hit Amazon later this week, in all likelihood. (It is in the final proofreading stage.)

Here’s a little about the series:

Origins of the story: The Evil Dead in a haunted house

One of my all-time favorite horror films is Sam Raimi’s cult classic, The Evil Dead (1981).

The Evil Dead (just in case you’re one of the rare horror fans who hasn’t seen the film) follows a simple setup and plot:

A group of college students decide to spend a weekend in a cabin in rural Tennessee. One of them discovers a copy of the Sumerian Book of the Dead, along with a tape recorder. Both items were left in the cabin by an archeologist—who has apparently met a bad end.

And, of course, the college students throw caution to the wind, and tamper with both items. Because that’s the sort of thing people always do in horror movies.

Hijinks ensue. Evil spirits are roused, and they take over the college students one-by-one, transforming each of them into homicidal zombies.

I loved The Evil Dead, even though I recognized some of its flaws.

What flaws? you ask. The characters are cardboard cutouts, for one thing. Also, there is Raimi’s fondness for blending black humor with horror. The combination mostly worked in The Evil Dead. It detracted from some of his subsequent horror films.

But flaws aside, The Evil Dead was truly a powerful film, especially for the early 1980s. I recall watching it for the first time back in the summer of 1983. I watched a VHS rental copy of The Evil Dead, on the Zenith television in my parents’ living room. (I was 14 or 15 at the time.) For a full 85 minutes, my eyes were glued to the television screen. The rest of the world receded into the background. Only good storytelling can do that.

My concerns and storytelling style are different from Raimi’s. I like more character development; and I don’t like comedy-horror. But I loved The Evil Dead, nevertheless. I’ve long known that I would someday write a story of my own that would take The Evil Dead as its inspiration.

* * *

One day during the long, turbulent summer of 2020, I decided that I wanted to write a book that might best be described as “The Evil Dead inside a haunted house”. Basically, I was aiming for a story that captured the spirit of Raimi’s 1981 movie, without ripping it off.

I wrote an initial story that more or less followed the plot line of the 1981 movie. It was set in the present day. But as mentioned above, I didn’t want to rip off Raimi. I swapped out the claustrophobic Tennessee cabin of The Evil Dead for a big, old house in Southern Indiana. Like all haunted houses, this one had a backstory. (Haunted houses are usually haunted for a reason, after all.)

As I began writing the book, though, I discovered something: The backstory was much more than a backstory. The house had a long, horrific history—as did the people who lived (and died) there.

I realized that one story simply wasn’t going to get the job done.

So I scrapped my original manuscript, and went back to the drawing board.

Instead of starting the story in the present day, I decided to go back to the very beginning, to the origins of The Rockland Horror.

That is where Book One begins…

A total of nine books have been planned out, and are in various stages of writing and development. When completed, The Rockland Horror saga will cover the horrific history of one cursed house from 1882 through 2020.