Book Jacket

 

rank 5925
word count 14234
date submitted 19.08.2008
date updated 08.05.2012
genres: Fiction, Thriller, Crime
classification: moderate
complete

Halfway to Hell (original novella)

Gavin Bell

Johnny Park is 100 miles from Phoenix... and halfway to Hell.

 

This is the original novella of Halfway to Hell. You can buy the full-length novel version from Amazon.

Johnny Park is a capricorn, a Brit in America, and a damn good bank robber. Following a botched heist, Johnny and a small crew of mismatched miscreants rendezvous in the small desert town of Halfway, Arizona. Things go from bad to worse when their fence is found murdered, and it soon becomes clear someone has followed them to this dusty speck on the map with the intention of killing each member of this disparate group.

Unable to cut his losses and run, Johnny must deal with a suspicious sheriff, a knockout redhead, and a gang where the only person he trusts is himself. Are the murders related to the heist, or has a phantom from the past come to Halfway to enact a bloody reckoning?

Hard boiled violence and mystery collide with desert noir as Johnny realises he's stuck in the desert with a killer and he's out of bullets... and friends.

This fast-paced novella will appeal to anyone who likes their thrillers straight up, with no skimping on violence, gunfights and car chases.

View the trailer for Halfway to Hell: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-pUqN-a7hs

 
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tags

arizona, bad language, bullets, car chase, car chases, commercial, crime, death, desert, exploitation, guns, hotel, killer, love, mystery, noir, novel...

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11 comments

 

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Chapters

9

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9: Room 22 Again

Back in room 22, Frank interrogated Stan as to his whereabouts for the previous couple of hours. He’d asked for his gun back as soon as I got through the door. I didn’t like the way he kept it in his hand while he was asking questions. He wasn’t pointing it at anyone, or even brandishing it, but I didn’t like it.

     It turned out that, after getting the beer from the gas station, he’d been walking back to the car when somebody cold-cocked him from behind. Because he’d parked out of the attendant’s line of sight, he’d lain there unconscious until the station closed and somebody, probably the same guy I’d been served by earlier, found him and woke him up.

     “After I came to, I saw somebody had stolen your car, Johnny,” he looked over at me with a guilty, worried expression. “I’m sorry, there was nothing I could do.”

     I shrugged philosophically at Stan. I hadn’t had the car long enough to get attached, after all. That said, I liked the car more than I had liked Travis. The killer had just made this a little bit more personal.

     If Stan was telling the whole truth, that was.

     Frank was thinking along similar lines. “He KO’d you.”

     Stan looked over at Frank, looking surprised that the attention had shifted away so quickly from what he saw as the important subject - the stolen the car.

     “That’s right.”

     “You didn’t get a look at him.”

     “No, he was behind me.”

     “So this guy completely got the drop on you.”

     Stan nodded.

     “And yet you’re not dead.”

     Stan looked puzzled, massaged the back of his head as if to verify the information himself before answering. “I’m fine, sorry to disappoint you.” He looked around at the rest of us, and then back at Frank. “Why should I be dead?”

     “No reason, we just thought you’d joined the club, along with Mitch and Travis.”

     “Travis is dead?”

     I decided to clarify things, as Frank wasn’t being too helpful. “Somebody cut his throat. And earlier on, I narrowly missed getting a shotgun facial. Sounds like you had a lucky escape.”

     “Yeah,” said Frank, the suspicion heavy in his voice. “So I find it a little strange how somebody goes to a lot of trouble to kill two people related to us, and attempts to kill a third, and yet you walk away with a bump on your head. I find that damn strange, Stan.”

     Stan paused for a second, realizing that everyone was looking at him. He opened his mouth, looking like he was about to yell at Frank, ask him what the hell he meant by that, but then closed it again. When he spoke, his voice was uncharacteristically hard-edged.

     “Well maybe I didn’t do anything to piss him off.”

     Stan and Frank locked eye contact for about five seconds before Stan spoke again.

     “Look. I don’t know what the hell is happening. All I know is somebody knocked me out, stole the car, and when I wake up, one of my partners is blaming me for killing somebody.”

     Frank held his gaze for a moment and then sighed. “Okay, forget about that. The important thing is we stick to the plan - stay here for the night and then get the hell out of here tomorrow morning. Hopefully before we lose anyone else.”

 

Chapters

9

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JoeTheAuthor wrote 1502 days ago

Bravo! Well done. Great pacing, with enough detail to keep me interested, and enough left unsaid to make me want more. Backed with pleasure!
Joe Perrone Jr.
As The Twig Is Bent
Opening Day

Isabelle Adams wrote 1749 days ago

I love the name of the town. I just love it. It's so appropriate. Bank robbers don't usually interest me, but this is good enough to have caught my interest.

Rivallino wrote 1194 days ago

Brilliant! Love it! Right up my street. Straight onto my bookshelf. Hope you can keep up the standard. I had intended downloading something onto my Sony Reader later on tonight, but, no thank you, this'll do fine. Really trying hard to find a fault, but...

Debbie wrote 1174 days ago

Ariom recommended this to me and I value her opinion. Haven't read much so far - but a great opening dropping us straight into the car and the action. But 14k is barely out of short story status and I'm not sure where your market is for this. Have you thought of shortening it for the long-short story market (crimewave springs to mind) or lengthening it into a novel (which is what I thought it was to start off with). This is great writing with strong 3 dimensional characters and I enjoyed reading it.

Citizen Gav wrote 1138 days ago

Bikerjob - thanks for the comments.

First of all, towns can absolutely have identities. Try comparing Manchester to London, or Sydney to San Francisco - those towns all have strong, unique identites. Most towns do.

I think you're broadly right, some of the writing in this version could be tightened up. Having said that, I'm not convinced the examples of improvements you've given are noticably better.

I think basically my writing style is not to your taste, which is fine! Interestingly though, this was the story that got me signed up with an agent, so I guess the good aspects must have outweighed the bad...

bikerjob wrote 1140 days ago

This rolls along – I sometimes had to stop and think what you meant - a tad wordy here and there... eg’s

A town with a name like that had no identity – Nowhere or Halfway ? - anyway – what is a town’s identity ?

You over use ‘just – still – such - seem’ – a word used to force the reader to get it.

...which we had just left ina hurry
...which we’d left in a hurry
Might as well just call it Nowhere.
Might as well call it Nowhere

Still, that’s what made it such a good place for a quiet rendezvous.
That’s what made it a good place for a quiet rendezvous.
or
A good place for a rendezvous.

A better place for a ‘quiet’ rendezvous – a big city – strangers stand out in a small place

Wiping a small waterfall.... – you start this para in ‘real time’ – then tell the reader what the future is... – doesn’t work for me.

Tony was a tall black guy, built like a bad dream. He seemed to avoid speaking when at all possible.
Tony, a tall black guy built like a bad dream, didn’t say much.
Travis, a skinny white prick, never shut up.


My intention here to highlight the opening... – it’s what an Agent/Publisher sees first – this is full of holes which can be filled by cutting the word count – make the point then get out – cut the clutter – stop using 12 words when 6 will do – cut ‘just – still – such – seem – that - had’.

There is a good story hidden here somewhere.

I hope this helps, best of luck.

(The Strathbungo Cellists)

Citizen Gav wrote 1172 days ago

Thanks everyone for your comments!

Debbie - I actually did flesh this out into a full novel which I keep meaning to post on here. It was picked up by an agent based on this version, but unfortunately I didn't get a bite from any of the big publishers.

Debbie wrote 1174 days ago

Ariom recommended this to me and I value her opinion. Haven't read much so far - but a great opening dropping us straight into the car and the action. But 14k is barely out of short story status and I'm not sure where your market is for this. Have you thought of shortening it for the long-short story market (crimewave springs to mind) or lengthening it into a novel (which is what I thought it was to start off with). This is great writing with strong 3 dimensional characters and I enjoyed reading it.

Ariom Dahl wrote 1175 days ago

Hi Gavin,
I read all of Halfway to Hell and was impressed. This struck me as an excellent example of the crime genre. Good characterisation and snappy writing. Well done.

Rivallino wrote 1194 days ago

Brilliant! Love it! Right up my street. Straight onto my bookshelf. Hope you can keep up the standard. I had intended downloading something onto my Sony Reader later on tonight, but, no thank you, this'll do fine. Really trying hard to find a fault, but...

meemers wrote 1434 days ago

Good. Fast. Suspense, drama, panorama, everything it takes for your MC and a great read. It's a gut gripper that's for sure. It reads so well that it's hard to keep up. The gang, Midnight, all well portrayed characters that give the story it's essence.

well done
Fate's Chastening

JoeTheAuthor wrote 1502 days ago

Bravo! Well done. Great pacing, with enough detail to keep me interested, and enough left unsaid to make me want more. Backed with pleasure!
Joe Perrone Jr.
As The Twig Is Bent
Opening Day

Isabelle Adams wrote 1749 days ago

I love the name of the town. I just love it. It's so appropriate. Bank robbers don't usually interest me, but this is good enough to have caught my interest.

Citizen Gav wrote 1878 days ago

Thanks!

Sorry, need to check in here more often. Yeah this one or Cut Short, really!

Gavin

Freddie Omm wrote 1910 days ago

hey

looks like a good start, i'm wling you - is this the book you want input on the most by the way?

best,

freddie

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