Update: The title of this book has been changed to Hopes and Dreams and Hell.
By Harold Goldberg
My apologies for the relative silence lately. In addition to heading up our nonprofit efforts, I've been working on some fiction! Here's how it begins:
Do you know how dreams sometimes come true? I’m not talking about the joyful dreams where you wish upon a star like an innocent child. I’m not talking about the smaller dreams of if-only – if only I had an acre by a stream or that mysterious lover or that fancy meal. I mean the scary dreams, the awful visions your mind forces you to forget before you wake up.
You dream about vile humans beyond the bigoted and the spiteful ones you pass as you walk the dirty streets, and worse, you dream about torture and murder. When your eyes open, squinting from the morning sun, you don’t remember exactly who or why or what. But then you are haunted all day long, trying to recall what made the hair on your forearm prickle and stand on end before you even got up for a morning pee. This was one of those times, except this time was worse. This time, the bad dream was real, full of obsession and violence. And the bad dream never went away. Hope, even for a stranger’s passing touch, seemed foolish. But I was like that, a fool too often. The unfortunate residual is that I became addicted to this failing in my nature, this terrible fault, the bad dream.
“Hopes and Dreams and Hell” is a mystery/thriller set in 1990s New York City that is partially influenced by My Life Among the Serial Killers, the book I co-wrote with Dr. Helen Morrison. And it's influenced by videogames, too.
Early in My Life Among The Serial Killers, we published psychological profiles of select historical figures. Personally, I was most affected by Gilles de Rais, a killer of children who also fought alongside Joan of Arc. His deeds were so upsetting that I went to Bar 6 in Greenwich Village every day while writing the chapter - to be around, well, regular people.
For “Hopes and Dreams and Hell,” I wanted to write a story that deals with sheer evil and moves along quickly – in one case as quickly as the best linear Dan Houser-written Grand Theft Auto videogame mission. Some of my favorite mystery novels, like “Devil in a Blue Dress,” are short and quick. Though some of those novels are under 100,000 words, the characters are often numerous and memorable. The Secret of the Skinny and the Sword features dozens of nefarious characters, each with his or her own quirks.
In “Hopes and Dreams and Hell,” Stan Kaminski is a down on his luck immigrant living in Astoria trying to live his best life and stay out of trouble. This former security guard for 1980s Polish hero Lech Walesa is a proud but wary man – even though he’s relegated to painting the houses of folks much wealthier than he is. When Stan’s asked by a one of Manhattan’s rich landlords to find a lost woman, he tries to refuse. But money lures him in. As Stan searches to find Charmaine, a brilliant but troubled woman with agoraphobia, he becomes ensnared in a waking nightmare full of mystery, multiple murders and the valuable braquemard of a serial killer.
Thematically, the novel deals with the conflicts the come with change, how one New York vanishes and another appears to take its place, how the rich and poor are in a constant battle, how the addicted mind fights with itself for answers, whether true love should be suppressed, what hope actually means and how a mystery is solved only to open the door to another. The book could be part of a trilogy.
While the novel is meant to be read by any reader who enjoys a fast-paced mystery, it is meant to be enjoyed by those who enjoy true crime serial killer books as well. Those who have a fondness for 1990s New York City would be intrigued, too.
Honestly, I've just finished what I consider to be a decent draft. So now, I'm in search of an agent or publisher. Or I might publish it myself and read the audiobook for Audible. In any case, I'm excited about this. So I wanted to share it with you.