Night of the Beast.

Welcome to Oakwood, Missouri population 1,013, a small town where you can get a good burger, have a drink, and listen to live music, no cover. Just beware of the nightlife; it can be a real killer!


At a rave in a decrepit warehouse in Kansas City, Missouri, a young man performs a head-first dive onto a concrete floor. It isn't readily apparent if it was deliberate suicide or the result of a dissociative episode caused by drugs. Kansas City detectives Quinton Belford and Emanuel Ortega, investigating the incident, uncover evidence indicating that a new designer drug has hit the streets, a powerful hallucinogen with a sophisticated chemical signature and a catchy trade name: Oakwood Gold. It's cheap, it's powerful, and it can be deadly. The two detectives begin an investigation to find the source of the new synthetic, unaware their investigation is going to lead them on a hunt they never expected, and confront them with a foe they didn't know existed.

There is a world where splicing is done, not with a sharp blade, but with a carefully prepared chemical formula. It is a microscopic universe of protein strands, tiny building blocks; the very foundations of life as we know it. The genome, chains of proteins that form an instruction set for building an organism, have been, until recently, beyond the limits of direct manipulation by science. The splice, breaking a protein sequence, leaving an incomplete strand of genetic material, can, with current technology, be completed by inserting a new strand of information in place of the sequence that had been removed. Once linked, the completed chain with new instructions may be used as a blueprint to build a new organism; an organism that may have never existed before.

The small town of Oakwood, Missouri, had enjoyed a tranquil way of life for many decades. Crimes that had grown to plague major metropolitan areas such as Kansas City and St. Louis seemed remote events in the small town; only something to be seen on television or heard on the radio. Residents watched with mixed emotions at changes wrought by their new neighbors, a large research facility, run by a corporate conglomerate, which had provided jobs and spurred modest growth in the area. Two local residents hunting are caught unaware as an experiment in transgenic splicing leaves the confines of its controlled laboratory environment for a walk on the wild side!

Crazy Otis Shelton, town-drunk emeritus, warns anyone within earshot about the "Pigs from Hell". However, Otis has a creditability issue, generated by previous warnings to all within hearing distance about Bigfoot stalking the nearby woods. Most residents of Oakwood attribute Crazy Otis' ravings, which have exchanged a mythical creature haunting the woods with devil pigs, as a result of Otis switching from bourbon to gin. But when two hunters, both local boys, disappear, it becomes more difficult to dismiss his rants as merely alcohol-induced hallucinations.


Judgment Rendered
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THe book cover artwork is a photo taken as I was out for a stroll on a cloudy evening. The moon was hidden behind the clouds, but there was enough light to see the branches against the cloudy sky. I took a chance and took a photo without using a flash. I used Photoshop to add a filter over the resulting image.

If you enjoyed Night of the Beast, you might like the thiller Velvet Green, another gripping work by Steve Croy. Click on the link to preview the novel.