by Brendan Gerad O'Brien


by Brendan Gerad O'Brien

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A thriller set in 1967 Ireland - the summer of love. Or was it?
A young American hitchhiker wanders into a brutal and terrifying situation when visiting a beautiful seaside town in 1960s Ireland. Who are the sinister men in the dark car? Are they the shadows that are stalking her on the beach? And who is the dark, mysterious figure hovering by the water's edge?

Product Details

BN ID: 2940011166495
Publisher: Brendan Gerad O''Brien
Publication date: 12/19/2010
Sold by: Smashwords
Format: eBook
File size: 379 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Brendan Gerad O’Brien was born in Tralee, on the west coast of Ireland and now lives in Newport, South Wales with his wife Jennifer and daughters Shelly and Sarah.

As a child he spent his summer holidays in Listowel, Co Kerry, where his uncle Moss Scanlon had a Harness Maker’s shop, now long gone.

The shop was a magnet for all sorts of colourful characters. It was there that his love of words was kindled by the stories of John B. Keane and Bryan MacMahon, who often wandered into the shop for a chat and bit of jovial banter.

After serving nine years in the Royal Navy, Brendan progressed to retail management, working as a Department manager with the UK’s second largest Supermarket.

Now retired, his hobby is writing short stories, twenty of which have already been published individually over the years, and also as a collection called Dreamin Dreams

Dark September is his first full novel, and Gallows Field is the first time we meet Eamon Foley in a murder mystery set in Ireland in 1941

A Pale Moon Was Rising is the next story to feature Eamon Foley, now with the Gardai investigating another murder in Tralee, Co Kerry.

Read an Excerpt



The blond haired girl knew she'd had too much to drink. She'd never been very good with alcohol. Now it felt as if she was rolling around in a boat in rough weather. She should have stopped ages ago but the wild carnival atmosphere of the campsite was incredible and she didn't want to miss out on all the fun.

The night was pulsing with frantic Irish music. A huge bonfire in the middle of the site threw off smoke that reeked of the burgers and sausages that sizzled on battered old frying pans. Hand rolled cigarettes were passed around with bottles of warm beer. People sat on the grass strumming guitars and banjos and beat out their own version of The Clancy Brothers or the Dubliners on upturned buckets.

Long haired hippies in colourful kaftans smooched in whatever space they could find. Others drifted away to find a place where they could get to know each other better.

Someone threw another log on the fire and a shower of sparks caught the night breeze and fluttered away up towards the cloudless sky. The blond haired girl tried to follow them but her legs had turned into sticks of sponge and she staggered towards the flames. And she shrieked when an arm reached around her waist and steadied her.

She leant back into him. Despite her spinning head she felt extremely relaxed. This was the best evening she'd had in a long, long time and she hoped to drag it out for just a little bit longer.

She had no idea how badly wrong that was going to go.

The day hadn't started out like this. In fact she was so disappointed with her two friends and their meanness towards her she was calling it quits and heading back home to Canada.

Bobby-Jo and Lillie were supposed to be her best pals. They'd been together since infant school. And now they were University students and still best buddies. And in the summer of 1967 the Summer of Love - they were backpacking around Ireland.

Flower Power was spreading like a rash throughout the known world. A whole generation of young people were growing their hair long, smothering themselves in beads and flooding the planet with love and peace and rock and roll. Hordes of them headed for wherever the hippy trail took them. Backpacks and kaftans were all you needed to travel the world. And if you could sing a Beatles' song you were guaranteed free beer along the way.

But it was the June Bank Holiday when the three Canadian girls wandered into this little town on the Kerry coast. The weather was amazing and the place was teeming with visitors determined to take advantage of it. Every campsite was packed tighter than a duck's eyelid.

When the girls eventually found a site that had some space they were told there was room for only one tent. The blond haired girl thought they'd all squash in together. But she was stunned by her friends' reaction. They insisted only two of them could fit comfortably into one tent. They would draw straws. The loser would have to find somewhere else to spend the night.

Then she caught the look that shot between them when she drew the short straw. So it was like that, was it? And after everything they'd been through together? They pretended to be sorry and they made all the right noises. But in a heartbeat she knew she'd never really been part of their gang after all. She was only there to make up the numbers.

She swallowed her disappointment and slinked away. And by the time she'd walked through the town and out the other side her mood had changed from simmering fury to sad resignation. This once in a lifetime adventure was ending sooner that she'd ever expected. There was no sense in going on alone. The fun had gone out of. She might as well head back to Shannon and catch the next flight home.

She automatically stepped off the pavement as a group of people approached, and she looked up in surprise when one of them spoke to her.

'You're on your own?'

'Pardon me?'

The man with the huge smile pointed at the maple leaf on her backpack. 'I noticed you earlier. Weren't there three of you? What have you done with the other two?'

His smile was so infectious she couldn't stop herself smiling back. She gave him a short, sanitised version of what happened.

'Oh dear. That is a shame,' he tutted. 'Look, the lads are camped in that field behind you. I know tis a holiday weekend and all that, but why don't we ask Dennis if he could squeeze you into a corner someplace.'

She didn't resist as he manoeuvred her across the road and right up to the front door of the little yellow cottage.

Dennis had a huge red face and smiling eyes. 'Well, I'm afraid every single bit of space is already taken.' He gave a sad shrug.

'What about down in the corner by the main gate?' The smiling man was persistent. 'There's loads of space there.'

'Ah sure, isn't that place all overgrown with brambles and nettles. You couldn't possibly pitch a tent amongst that lot.'

'But if we could? You'd let her stay, right?'

Dennis threw his hands up and gave a belly rumble of a laugh. 'I will. And I'll only charge her half price for it too.'

It didn't take them long to sort it out. Someone appeared with a massive sheet of canvas and spread it out over the whole corner of the field, right up to the stone wall. Then everyone trampled all over it until the ground underneath was flat enough to sit on.

The blond haired girl was embarrassed by the fuss everyone was making of her. The group had swollen to over a dozen people and they were all eager to help her put up her tent. Every one of them was unbelievably pleasant, buzzing with friendship and delighted to be part of this project on such a wonderful day.

It wasn't long before they got a bonfire going in the middle of the field. The smiling man produced enough bottles of beer to keep everyone entertained. Soon there was all sorts of things cooking on the fire and the music started with the wailing of Uilleann pipes and the rattle of a bodhran. A banjo appeared and then a guitar, and it wasn't long before the singers joined in and there was no stopping them now.

And the smiling man was at the centre of it all. He oozed charm. And he knew how to work a crowd, how to mould them into adoring disciples.

Then as the evening wore on he turned into the Pied Piper and led them all in an excited procession down the road to the nearest pub.

The blond haired girl went too, even though she was dog tired and desperate to lie down. It was impossible to resist the pull of the craic. But she was so glad she went. The whole town was buzzing. Music spilled out from every pub and the roar of happy laughter rose and fell like the waves on the beach behind them.

It was well past midnight when they all trundled back to the campsite and carried on celebrating.

But now the blond haired girl couldn't stay awake any longer. 'I think I'm going to turn in.'

The smiling man had his arms around her waist and he gripped her tighter. 'That's fine. I'll see you to your tent.'

'No, no. I'm fine.'

'No you're not,' he laughed. 'You can't even stand up straight let alone walk across an auld field full of holes and big clumps of grass. I'm making sure you get there in one piece. So c'mon.'

He steered her through the rows of tents and into the quieter part of the field. When they were far enough away from the others she felt his hand slide up under her shirt and cup her breast.

She pulled away sharply. 'Don't ...'

He acted as if he hadn't heard her as he moved his hand back to her waist.

They were just a few feet away from her tent when she staggered and fell back against him. And this time both his hands slipped inside her shirt and grabbed her breasts.

She pushed him away with her backside. 'I said don't do that. Please!'

The punch caught her just above the ear. She yelped but she didn't fall. And when she spun around she was horrified by the change to his face. It was all out of shape, angry sharp edges and wild eyes.

Standing behind him was one of the other men who'd helped her pitch her tent earlier. His face looked seriously weird too, distorted by a smirk that reeked of malice.

She opened her mouth to scream but the next punch was straight into her face. She felt her nose explode a second before the white light wiped out everything else.



Dakota Lacey stopped half way across the old town bridge and looked down at the cool brown water of the River Feale as it meandered between the lush green fields before disappearing around a bend in the distance.

She dropped her backpack on the pavement and stretched to see over the thick stone wall. She was hoping to find an easy way down to the riverbank where she could soak her weary feet in the shallow pools under the shade of the trees. But here wasn't an obvious path anywhere near by. It looked like she'd have to go farther into the town. There was bound to be a lane down to the river somewhere.

In the distance she could see a church steeple. With the clear blue sky and the rows of brightly painted houses around the town square, this was the typical Irish scene her grandfather had told her about many, many times over the years. No wonder he missed it so much.

She wondered if her own little corner of the world was as beautiful as this, would she have left Colorado in the first place.

Well, actually, she probably would.

Because she'd been bitten by the mad Flower Power bug too. So, along with a group of University friends, she decided to take a year out and follow The Trail. Of course when she told her family she was spending the next year backpacking around Europe her mother nearly had a fit!

Wild eyed with the worry of her only daughter wandering casually into the unchartered waters of free sex and drugs on tap, she had to lie down in a darkened room and console herself with several Valium and a bottle of Single Malt Scotch.

But it wasn't because her mother was a prude. Far from it! She actually subscribed to the notion that if you like it, do it! But not with her precious little girl! Not with her baby!

Dakota's father, on the other hand, was making the most of what was left of his youth. Given half a chance he'd have followed the trail himself. So he was all in favour of it.

'Go!' he told her from behind a cloud of odd smelling smoke coming from the long pipe he was puffing on. 'Live a little! Team up with some Friends of Jesus and you'll be perfectly safe. Just be careful, keep your hand on your wallet and be polite - but persistent - when you say no!'

Dakota was delighted and she gave him a big hug. She only wished she had the courage to say something about his bizarre attempt at being cool! Well, maybe his long hair and moustache really did suit him - it depended which eyes you were looking through. But a kaftan?

'You're a very pretty girl,' was the last thing her boyfriend Lance said to her the night before she left for Europe. He knew in his heart that when she came back she was going to be a very different person from the one he was kissing now. 'But don't flaunt it. Be safe. Play it down. If in doubt, pack up and move on.'

Her friends were following the well-trodden road to Paris, then Italy and probably on to Greece. Dakota's grandad promised to finance her trip if she stopped off in Ireland first and looked up a few people from his childhood. He often thought about them when he'd had a few pints of Guinness and a blast of Irish music. There weren't that many left now so it wasn't going to take her too long. Then she could catch up with her friends and follow her own trail.

Of course she agreed. And she was delighted she did. She flew into Shannon during the warmest summer in living memory. And she fell totally in love with the casual, laid-back attitude of the Irish.

Nothing was too much trouble for them. They would do absolutely anything for you. But they would also take a casually long time doing it.

'Tis no problem,' they'd tell you with a cheery smile. They'd forget to tell you there was no hurry either. She loved it.

At first she really missed her family back home. She'd never been this far away from them before. Nor for so long! But after just a week she was concerned that they were already starting to fade into a hazy memory. She almost felt guilty about it.

But backpacking was something that got into her blood very, very quickly - the variety that each new day brought, the freedom to wander along the open road and not be accountable to anyone else.

Then there was the pleasure of tracing her grandad's friends and relatives. She followed the instructions on the list he'd given her, and it brought her here to this beautiful little town on the Kerry coast.



'Guard Hayslip.'

Jack Hayslip groaned and his shoulders sagged. He'd only just come into the Garda station for his morning rest break. It had been a long hot shift and he was desperate for a nice cup of tea and a cigarette. The temptation to ignore the duty sergeant and walk straight on to the canteen flickered through his mind. But only for the briefest of moments. The consequences of pretending not to hear his name being called would definitely outweigh the inconvenience of missing his break. He turned and forced a smile.

'Good morning to you, Sarge. And what can I do for you today?'

Hayslip wasn't sure if the twitch in the corner of the sergeant's mouth was a smile or a grimace. He always believed that behind the sergeant's rock hard appearance there was a rock hard heart. So it was always a delicate balancing act to stay on the right side of him.

'That young woman you were briefed about at this morning's meeting.' The sergeant didn't take his eyes of the ledger and his pen made loud scratching noises on the paper as he scribbled in it. 'Apparently she has regained consciousness.'

Hayslip waited for him to continue. But the sergeant dragged it out for a few more seconds before he glanced up sharply.

'I want you to go over to the hospital and find out everything you can about what happened to her.' He pointed his pen at Hayslip. 'And remember she's still in intensive care and extremely fragile so be gentle with her. Don't go charging in there like a Kerry bull and trample all over her testimony. Be tactful, listen to what she has to say and don't rush her.'

He turned back to the ledger and dismissed Hayslip with a jab of the pen.

'Oh, right you are, Serge.' Hayslip cleared his throat. 'But can I ask, is it all right if I go to the canteen first and get myself a cup of tea? I can look through my notes there. Just to refresh my memory about the case, you understand?'

'Don't be too long, then.' Another twitch at the corner of his mouth, but the Sarge didn't look up. 'The inspector wants an update before he goes home. He's been here all night so he's not in a great mood.'

Pat Lynch and Danny Leary were sitting at the corner table in the canteen reading their newspapers. Hayslip got himself a mug of tea and took it over, pulled out a chair and slapped his notebook on the table as he sat down.

'Lads, I need to recap on the young woman we were told about at this morning's briefing.'

They both looked up together. 'Why's that, Jack?'

'Apparently she's after waking up from her coma and the Sarge wants me to go over to the hospital to speak to her. I just want to go over what we were told about her.'

Lynch folded his newspaper and gave a lopsided grin. He had the healthy face of a man who'd spent his whole life on a farm. 'And is that because you weren't paying attention?

Again? Jasus, but you've really got it bad, haven't you? You poor auld romantic eejit.'

'What's that song? You know the one?' Leary tapped out a rhythm on the table with his long thin fingers. 'The Joe Brown one - That's what love will do ...'

'It was last summer ...' Lynch sang.

'I fell in love ...' Leary tapped harder.

Then together. 'My heart told me what to do ...'

'Will you shut up, you feckin eejits.' Hayslip slapped the paper out of Lynch's hand.

'No. Listen, that's the wrong song.' Lynch hooted. 'It should be the one by that American fella. What's his name? You know the one.'

He stood up and put his hand on his heart. 'Oh Carol, I am but a fool ...'

'Yeah,' Leary stood up too. 'Don't ever leave me, cos ...'

'Will you cop on,' Hayslip pretended to throw a punch at them.

'This is serious?'

'What? Are you saying this thing with Carol Flynn is not serious? Does she even know that? And if it isn't serious why are you moping around like a love sick teenager all day long?'

'I am not.'

'Yes you are. You look like you're in a trance half the time. Your eyes are glazed over. No, you can't fool us, lover boy. We can see the blood on your shirt where Cupid pinged you with his arrow.'

Both of them laughed even louder when Hayslip looked down and instinctively touched his chest.

'Lads, for feck sake. Just go over the notes with me again so I won't be looking like a right eejit when I'm talking to her.'

Leary and Lynch sat back down and put on their serious faces as they flicked open their notebooks.


Excerpted from "Footsteps"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Brendan Gerad O'Brien.
Excerpted by permission of Brendan Gerad O'Brien.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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