I wrote about 2,400 words yesterday, which would be fantastic were it not for the fact that the first 1,667 of them were supposed to have been written on Saturday. The allure of Arkham Horror was too much to resist, and so I spent several hours Saturday evening battling nameless horrors from realms beyond mankind’s understanding in a futile attempt to prevent the Ancient One from awakening and destroying Arkham, Massachusetts. Chris, Gus and I played two games. The first, against Shub-Niggurath, was a dismal failure; when the Great Old One awakened, we soon discovered that were were entirely unable to deal it any damage. The second game, against Yig, was much more successful, and I found that Sister Mary the nun kicked far more beastly ass than the gangster I was playing in the first game. Power of the Almighty, indeed.
Enough of that, let’s get to the meat of today’s post: the plot of my novel-in-progress, which involves neither nuns nor gangsters, nor slumbering horrors that will rip your sanity from you like so much plastic film off the top of a microwave dinner when they awaken. Well, not yet, anyway.
Cleveland, Ohio. January of 1938. The city has a new mayor, elected to the office under dubious circumstances, and a killer roams the streets, able to slay young women with apparent impunity. Chief Inspector Timothy Remington enlists the aid of Bannister Proulx, a detective whose consultations have proven quite valuable to the constabulary in the past two years.
Unfortunately for Remington, the new mayor sees Proulx as a threat to the department of police and the city of Cleveland. The mayor demands that Remington turn over and and all police files pertaining to Bannister Proulx and suggests that some very influential people are concerned that Proulx’s involvement with high-profile murder investigations paints the constabulary in a poor light.
On the heels of this news comes another slaying, apparently the work of the elusive killer who has haunted the streets of the city for some four months. But it’s worse than Remington suspects; the killer he has been pursuing since autumn of the previous year is merely an imitator of the true menace, and the gruesome new slaying is more horrific and more puzzling than anything the Chief Inspector has ever seen.
Despite the mayor’s admonitions, Remington again calls upon the aid of Bannister Proulx and his partner, the young, attractive, and exceptionally intelligent Emma Caldwell. Proulx quickly confirms Remington’s darkest fears. The murder of a mother and her grown daughter on Ridgebury Lane is not the work of the same individual who has been terrorizing Cleveland since the previous September.
Proulx determines that this new killer is far more meticulous and exacting than his imitator and reveals a supernatural element at work. The mysterious symbols and diagrams written on the walls of the murder scene are familiar to the detective, who is no stranger to the arcane and the occult. While Proulx attempts to determine the exact nature and intent of the symbols, he encourages Remington to continue his pursuit of the copycat killer in hopes that catching the imitator might gain them valuable insight into the identity of the true menace.
During the course of his investigation, Proulx learns that the grisly murder on Ridgebury Lane is not unique to Cleveland. Similar incidents have occurred in the cities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and even Pittsburgh. Not only are the murders practically identical, they all took place on the same street in their respective cities: Ridgebury Lane.
While Remington races to find the copycat killer before he strikes again, Proulx and Emma Caldwell travel to New York City, where their investigation leads them to a secret society that has existed for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. This powerful group has influenced the architecture and infrastructure of every major city of the United States and western Europe, ensuring that certain elements—all but invisible to those who don’t what to look for—were included in the cities’ designs. Bannister learns that the presence of these elements, combined with the appropriate arcane knowledge, will allow near instantaneous transportation between any of these cities, and the thoroughfare connecting them all is Ridgebury Lane.
But who is using this arcane secret to commit gruesome murders from Cleveland to London, and why? The key to the mystery lies in finding the elusive copycat killer, but can Remington and Proulx find him before he, too, falls victim to the true terror of Ridgebury Lane?