“Gem from the Books of Dusk” is a  pulp-fueled mashup of a modern noir western and urban fantasy.  Best described as Mickey Spillane meets William Hope Hodgson.

Set in the 1980s Mojave Desert, the book will be a hybrid of prose and graphic novel formats. Text weaved between double-page spreads and spot illustrations.

Release date: December 2020.


Mojave Desert
In another America
1984 AD



It’s 98 degrees and midnight in Palm City. You could say the good times left Palm City a long time ago, but I don’t know if it ever had a good time—maybe its always been a sea of mean asphalt in the middle of the desert.

It’s all down-and-out except for the jail. Incarceration is a growth industry, and the Palm City Jail is a first-class rat trap, all shiny and new. It’s downtown at 7th and Main, next to the dowdy old courthouse, in a sort of a weird pride-of-place location. I mean, what does it say if your finest public building is a jail?

You can see the community pride in the jail by its landscaping, grass out front, and tall palm trees at each corner of the building. The foliage might be half-dead due to the drought and water restrictions but, still, it shows the commitment to law and order.

City jails, especially in the sticks, are usually Cracker Jack boxes. Here in Palm City, it’s one of those rare hi-tech lockups, six-stories tall, no windows, cameras, security checkpoints, no-way-in-or-out except through the electronically locked steel doors at ground level. It’s as close to a super-max as any jail can get. It broods over this town, a faceless monolith, a message to the transient population, the poor, the migrants, the drifters: stay in line.

This jail, the fortress-like Main Sheriff’s Station out along the highway, the substations scattered throughout the county are all part of Sheriff Don Carstairs’ personal fiefdom.

On the top floor of his Jail is the AD-SEG Unit, where Palm City houses its most violent offenders.

I’m one of them.

I know everything about this jail, I’ve been studying it for the last six months—not much else to do sitting in this cell.

This is my story, and I’ll tell it like it happened. This isn’t the beginning, but it’s a good enough place to start.

My name is John Starrett.

I’m gonna be dead in eight hours…