A Western Mystery?
Hallowed Ground ©
By Darrel Sparkman
Would you believe I first started working on the novel Hallowed Ground in 1997? The first chapters won a few awards. Life and other projects got in the way until 2014 when Whiskey Creek Press published it with little fanfare and predictable results. While getting great reviews, exposure was limited and it fell from public view.
With encouragement from Dusty Richards, a accomplished writer in the western genre, I hooked up with Oghma Creative Media and Galway Press. Hard work from bossman Casey Cowan and his team, including editor Gil Miller, brought us to a second publishing in 2017. Re-written with new chapters, and formatted with a great cover, Hallowed Ground is a book I’m particularly proud of. If all goes well, it will be the start of The Deacon series with Coble Bray.
Hallowed Ground is the culmination of several ideas. A famous writer said of the old west—out here you’re free to be as good as you want, or as bad as you can be. As the west became more populated, the bad came along with the good.
Untold stories of survival hide behind every moss-covered rock and clump of sagebrush. Nameless men and women often died along life's trail with no one to mourn their loss--or take note of it.
You won’t find Coble Bray in the history books. But as in all my stories, given the locale, equipment and circumstances—it could have happened.
There were many instances of killings in the 1800’s that nowadays would be classified as some type of serial murder. On the crime shows in modern media an inordinate amount of time is spent amassing evidence that will survive our legal system. From blood spatter patterns to DNA, all compiled in massive computer systems for analysis along with profiles by experts, lead the investigators to the killer. At the end the killer makes a mistake because of pressure from investigators—or their own arrogance.
Even with all the modern technology, criminal profilers say most serial killers aren’t caught. Less than fifty percent are apprehended—and that’s just the ones they know are operating. Scary.
In 1878 all the tools law enforcement would have are gut instinct or actually catching them in the act. In Hallowed Ground, Coble Bray is confronted with the fact that he knows who the killer is—but can’t prove it in a court of law. His solution is unique. Things were simpler then.
A teaser for the next novel. The killer he just caught wasn’t the worst. Marshal Coble Bray goes after the worst outlaws. He understands them—often sympathizes with them. But the challenge of unimaginable evil is just around the corner. How can he keep his loved ones alive and survive?
As a point of interest Coble Bray is the combination of two family names, part of a lineage that goes back to England in the 12th century. Ancestors of long ago might have been wearing the armor of the Knights, but more likely would have been a Welsh bowman. Perhaps fighting with Henry at Agincourt? I wonder.
Anyway, I think Coble Bray will do his ancestors proud. If he lives.
The adventure begins…
If you start one of my books, you'll finish it. I guarantee it.