A study of psychological torment and breakdown. A gripping murder mystery. A terrifying ghost story. K. Patrick Malone masterfully weaves together all three strains of spellbinding fiction in his debut thriller, INSIDE A HAUNTED MIND Presented in the guise of a journal, dated January 2002, the tale unfolds through eyes, reminiscences, and nightmares of one of its victims, a small town police chief haunted by personal demons and dying…of fright.
Filled with intriguing twists and mysterious characters, including a prominent doctor from Victorian London, a red headed hooker with a heart of gold, a Russian mistress of black magic, and a very much alive elderly widow with a Mahjong tile bracelet, INSIDE A HAUNTED MIND eventually leads to a horrific trail of long buried murders. . . or were they more than just murders? Even after the novel’s shocking culmination, K. Patrick Malone will leave readers wondering about whether to trust a crumbling psyche or whether to be on the lookout for the ghosts lurking in their own home. . . and how they may have gotten there.
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Terry Chagford is the Chief of Police of Jennisburg, New York, a small, unassuming upstate town famous for nothing more than its apples and cows. Although a far cry from his youthful idealism and potential, the job lets him live a comfortable, easygoing, and almost peaceful life—except for the occasional flare-ups from his past. Sometimes, the pain is physical—actual aches from the broken bones and burns he suffered while trying, and failing, to save an eight-year-old girl from an arsonist’s wrath during his short-lived career as an ATF agent. Other times, when he’s alone and hears the tiny voice of Angelica wailing, over and over, the pain goes deeper, searing his soul. That’s when he seeks out relief from a bottle—of pills or booze or both.
One rainy night, on his way home to his empty house after making his evening rounds, Chief Chagford is shaken from his usual blue fog by the blinking of headlights. The lights belong to a car on the wrong side of the Overmill Bridge—on the ramp heading straight for the river. Seized with an overwhelming surge of urgency, Terry pulls over and dives in. This time, he isn’t too late. He successfully rescues a stranger, Martin Welliver, from New York City. Before long, Terry will learn how much he and Martin have in common—starting with a history of bad luck and loneliness—and gradually realize how much they both have to fear.
A World Trade Center survivor, rushing into his office when the second plane struck, Martin was drawn to Jennisburg as the ideal place to escape the stress and dangers of city life. On a meandering drive through the town, mere weeks before his near-fatal car crash, he stumbled upon an abandoned Victorian house and decided to buy it. Curious about this mysterious, isolated house, Terry asks the
local real estate maven, Sylvia Hadrada, for a tour and some background. The house was built in 1901, last rented by an Evangelical minister and his large family, and left empty for the past twenty years. When Sylvia welcomed Martin inside, she caught a flash of something shiny tucked under the first stair. It turned out to be an antique silver box, with the hallmark of a London engraver, containing an unusual treasure for a preacher’s family: ivory Mahjong tiles. Sylvia handed Martin the tiles, as a housewarming gift, and sold the box, for a tidy two hundred bucks, but Terry isn’t interested in hearing more details—because the house makes him feel most unwelcome and desperate to leave.
Keeping the tension mounting and the surprises coming, INSIDE A HAUNTED MIND follows the growing bond between a troubled small town police chief and a troubled stranger—forged in mutual dread of the house that Martin bought. At first skeptical of Martin’s claims of the house’s evil powers, Terry becomes a true believer when his dreams are taken over by images of Mahjong tiles and murder. Finally, Terry and Martin become co-conspirators in a plot to burn the house down. But that fails to destroy the evil—an evil with the force to kill, an evil that seems intent on driving Terry to choose between insanity or suicide.
“Evil is the most insidious creature imaginable because it can live forever. It has all the patience it needs to lie in wait until it’s ready to strike, and it always strikes when its prey is at its weakest and most vulnerable to its tricks.”
—from the journal of Terry Chagford