Dead Luck

In 1913, a Springfield, Massachusetts detective visits one of the most horrific crime scenes he has ever encountered and locates a written manuscript alongside a male corpse which appears to be a fictional life story. Or is it?

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There is good luck, there is bad luck.

In 1913 Nate McCoy, a Springfield, Massachusetts detective, visited one of the most horrific crime scenes he had ever seen at which a ten-year old boy had been held captive. Years later, after the case was officially closed, he was disposing of the evidence when he came across a hidden manuscript written by the boy.

As he read the narrative, it seemed to be nothing more than a beautifully written fictional story. Nate thought, though, that what was written was impossible with no conceivable explanation. He soon found out that it was true.

How does this relate to Deacon’s State Reform School, the idyllic town of Rainbow, a new dam construction on The Bubbling River, two clowns, a diminutive safe cracker from Boston, identical twin brothers who are vicious criminals, the wealthy owner of two speakeasys, Allure Lake, a string of gruesome murders and a priceless rare coin?

This thriller takes you on a wild ride that connects all of the above, ultimately leading to a place that no longer exists in a time that is not now.

There is good luck, there is bad luck. And there is dead luck.

The only thing with no beginning and no end is a circle.
If time has no beginning and no end, by definition it must be circular.
If that is true, events are destined to repeat, over and over and over again. Forever.




“Dead Luck by Don Heywood was a riveting ride of a narrative that struck me as what would happen if you took Stephen King and John Grisham and tossed them into a blender. It’s fast-paced and will constantly keep you guessing about who really done it…and why…and what they were covering up.”

Amazon Review


“Heywood’s writing is beautiful throughout this novel. You might think ‘beautiful’ is a strange word to describe the writing of a thriller… but the way the author manages to capture the scenes and surroundings of the characters is nothing short of mesmerising.”

Goodreads Review



Excerpt From Chapter 1: Springfield, Massachusetts 1913

The rusty spike. It jutted out of the basement floor like an ancient stalagmite. It seemed to mock him, daring him to try to escape from its corroded grasp. A dirty chain bolted to it was secured to his ankle by an inch-wide tarnished clamp, fastened with a lock. Over time, it had abraded the skin away to the point that under it only coral colored scar tissue remained.

His sole purpose in life now was to attack the spike. It drove his every waking second, his every breath, ever since he had first grabbed it and discovered that it moved slightly in the old fractured concrete. His only weapon against it was a discarded nail he had found along the damp foundation wall. Again, and again, and again he pulled it, making a slight indentation into the ancient concrete surface alongside the spike. How long had he been at it? Time no longer had significance. A long way to go, still. No time to stop.

He would dream that one day he would be free. He often thought about what his mother always told him, which was that if one can imagine something, then it can become real. This thought is what sustained him every second of every day.

As he worked the nail in the flickering candlelight, he gazed upon his prison. There were no windows. The walls were fieldstone with archaic crumbling mortar that sweated beads of moisture like weeping tears. A lone bent water spigot dangled from the wall closest to him, water dripping every few seconds ensuring that the dampness would never leave. In the far corner was a pile of junk in which metal frames slowly rusted, wood rotted, moss and mold grew. Close to the spike was the thin soiled mattress he slept on.

Against one wall were piles of newspapers and magazines slowly mildewing. Several tattered suitcases were stacked alongside them like building blocks. On a broken crate was a mound of hardened candle wax the size of a hornet’s nest with the stub of a candle at its peak like an explorer’s flag on a mountain summit. When the man first started bringing the newspapers, magazines and candles the boy would spend countless hours reading as an escape. Then one day he pulled one of the suitcases down and was surprised to find it was half full of blank paper and pencils. He would then spend his time writing. He found time would pass easier when his mind was engaged. Especially since he had a place to write about, a story to tell. This went on for months until he happened to notice that the spike was loose and found the nail. Now there was no more time for reading or writing.

Old bowed joists were his sky, cobwebs his clouds. The concrete floor was his earth. There was no sun in his world, only darkness that was occasionally lifted by faint candlelight.

Today was his birthday. He’d no way of knowing. Birthdays meant nothing to this ten-year old boy as he continued to draw the nail towards him, which made a dull scraping sound on the floor like a cat on a scratching post.

Day and night meant nothing. Seasons came and went without him. Sunrises, sunsets never to be seen, never to be missed. Happiness was irrelevant. He was bereft love, a foggy recollection. Friendship, something he knew nothing about. Life above went on without him while he was trapped here. Muted, indistinct sounds from unknown sources on the street above vibrated the walls and floors, loosening dust particles that floated in the air like miniature brown snowflakes. His mind was unable to conjure images of what might be up there.

His only constant companions were pain and cold. His whole body ached. His skin itched. His teeth hurt. His long, coal black unkempt hair wiggled with nits and lice. But worse than pain was the bone rattling cold. The continuous dampness in the cellar made his lungs constantly cough in rebellion. At times, it was so cold he could see his expelled breath. The tattered clothes, old bathrobe and thin blanket weren’t nearly enough to keep him warm, to ward off the tentacles of dampness. The fouled mattress on the floor offered very little protection from the cold that reached up out of the concrete like fingers of ice, prying and probing his body like frozen needles. His only solace was the slight warmth given by his candles. Light and warmth, two prized possessions.
The air was mephitic, the stench of his own body hung in it like a foul fog. Even the rats had stopped coming over time, evidently knowing better than to venture into this hellhole.

It seemed there was nothing good in his life, his world, only bad.

Try as he might, he just couldn’t understand why he was here or what he’d done to deserve this. He was afraid it was something he’d done but, try as he might, he couldn’t recollect any reason. He was lonely and frightened all the time and used to cry continually. Over time, his tears dried up and they now flowed no more. The confusion and tears had been replaced with resentment and anger. It was what fueled him. A scab to be continually picked at, never allowed to heal, never to be forgotten.

Once more, he pulled the nail.



Paperback, eBook


September 25, 2021

Print Length

342 pages