Meet Detective Louis Green, the strangely gifted socialite Robert Walker who stalks Manhattan’s upper reaches, the Rev James Bulley sequestered away in his Soho basement calling God down to wash away the sins of the world and Red Henley, a presence rarely seen, but never out of sight.
Red’s murder sets Green on a path of self-discovery if not redemption. As 1980 unfurls, Green discovers a direct line back from modern day New York City to a religious commune in the Tennessee countryside decades earlier and the story of two boys housed there who would experience a horrific tragedy that would become the spark that sets the fire in the towers and backstreets of Manhattan some twenty years later.
As he follows the killer’s trail, Green finds a city filled with murderous deeds, the corrupting influence of absolute power and the madness that both love and faith can bring. With one question remaining: what draws Bulley, Walker and Red together?
As the clouds gather over the city, we find men strung up in trees like broken kites, one pushed from the roof of his own building, another gagged, his teeth broken by a pool ball pushed down his throat. But in this bloody landscape stands Green trying to not only to understand this ever evolving case, but the nature of evil and the intractable battle between the good and the bad within himself. How life is sometimes lived on a plane of existence outside of our own and the everyday magic that can manifest in the most unexpected places.
With the end of the year fast approaching, Green returns to the now refurbished warehouse for a bloody resolution and a reckoning that unites killer and cop in a macabre and almost intimate dance that draws them together before pulling them forever apart.
Rudy Porter had been with his wife, Suzanne, as long as he could remember. They’d been teenagers and then lovers and then married by the time he was nineteen against the wishes of both their parents. Neither of them went to college, they were parents too by the time they reached their twenties. They had two sons; Alix and Mikey, both had graduated college, they’d been his children and he’d loved them, he still loved them. Alix lived in Boston and Mikey had moved south to Florida, he still felt like the centre of their lives if only sometimes as a point on the map. The problem was Suzanne. She’d fallen heavily in the kitchen four days before and hadn’t moved since. He’d placed her in her favourite chair; it had the best view of the TV, and waited for her to wake. He put cups of tea at her side and emptied and refreshed them as they cooled. He held her hand; the colour was running into the fingertips and making them red and purple. Her face was grey, her skull heavier than he could ever remember. He tipped it back against the chair and she sat there as if she were regarding a newly found stain on the ceiling. He missed her more than he could have ever imagined; how could one fall have so irrevocably changed their lives forever?
He sat with her at nights and talked about when they were young and what they both might have wanted from the world. He talked about the time she left him over his teenage jealousies and how he’d discovered a new hollowness inside of himself, that first very real feeling of his heart breaking. His breath stuttered in sharp jolts like a sudden asthma attack in lungs once considered healthy. The numbness of his loneliness spread through his body like the slow recede of snow. He woke daily to the first, sharp realisation of pain. And then one day she suddenly came back with a warning for him to cool down, to trust her and so he did. She took his hand and they walked through their city. The boys grew and left and they both cried and clung to each other, their lives moving forwards in increments. He thought of her in the hat that she wore to Mikey’s wedding, pale blue; the wide brim casting half her face in shadow. He had never seen her look more beautiful and now he was crying as she sat in another shadow altogether, the life ushered out of her, her unseeing gaze staring only upwards as if that was where she was meant to go.
Green had no idea why he was the one they called to the apartment. Later, he’d think it was because of his father’s calling as a priest, that if he could listen and ease the minds of men then perhaps his son had a similar aptitude, a gift, but he was never completely sure why he got the job. Patrolmen had been called to Rudy Porter’s apartment when his son Alix had started to worry about where his father and mother might be. Their phone rang uselessly; Alix imagined it sat there in their apartment trilling with life as they lay asphyxiated yards away, slumped and just out of reach. The patrolman talked to Rudy through the door, but didn’t think crashing through it would help the situation. The man’s nervous reassurances sounded much more weary than they were manic or dangerous. Neither son could make it into town until later that night and there was a stench starting to settle around the doorway and across the building’s landing. Something was waiting on the other side of that door and the patrolman didn’t want to meet its unwavering eye.
So just over a year later after I handed over the manuscript of my second novel, The Death And Life Of Red Henley, to some North American producers (film and TV, but more latterly TV, as that’s where the money is, though not in my case), they’ve handed it back. In truth, I’ve missed her, I’ve gone back over the pages many time, tinkering here, readdressing there, I spent a few months crafting a TV…
These people are helping to fund The Death and Life of Red Henley.