The Beast of Barcroft

The Beast of Barcroft

by Bill Schweigart

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Overview

The Beast of Barcroft by Bill Schweigart

Fans of Stephen King and Bentley Little will devour The Beast of Barcroft, Bill Schweigart’s brilliant new vision of dark suburban horror. Ben thought he had the neighbor from hell. He didn’t know how right he was. . . .
 
Ben McKelvie believes he’s moving up in the world when he and his fiancée buy a house in the cushy Washington, D.C., suburb of Barcroft. Instead, he’s moving down—way down—thanks to Madeleine Roux, the crazy neighbor whose vermin-infested property is a permanent eyesore and looming hazard to public health.
 
First, Ben’s fiancée leaves him; then, his dog dies, apparently killed by a predator drawn into Barcroft by Madeleine’s noxious menagerie. But the worst is yet to come for Ben, for he’s not dealing with any ordinary wild animal. This killer is something much, much worse. Something that couldn’t possibly exist—in this world.
 
Now, as a devilish creature stalks the locals, Ben resolves to take action. With some grudging assistance from a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and the crackpot theories of a self-styled cryptozoologist, he discovers the sinister truth behind the attacks, but knowing the Beast of Barcroft and stopping it are two different animals.

Praise for The Beast of Barcroft
 
“A vicious otherworldly creature terrorizes a neighborhood in Schweigart’s swift and breezy suburban creature feature. . . . Readers who appreciate a B-movie sensibility, affable characters, and a sense of fun along with their scares will find much to enjoy.”Publishers Weekly

The Beast of Barcroft is a page-turner, seizing the reader and demanding he keep his nose buried in the book until that last page is reached.”New York Journal of Books
 
The Beast of Barcroft is quite chilling at times, but oh what great entertainment it provides. . . . If you like horror novels, don’t hesitate to give [it] a try as it’s a terrifyingly good story.”Fresh Fiction
 
“A hybrid of The X Files, Silver Bullet and Supernatural. If you enjoy your horror with a distinctly animalistic edge then I would recommend that you give The Beast of Barcroft a go.”—The Eloquent Page
 
“The action is fun, the pace is quick, and the imagery is great. I’d highly recommend this to anyone who loves a good afternoon horror story.”—Scifi and Scary Book Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780804181365
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/17/2015
Series: Fatal Folklore Trilogy , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 200
Sales rank: 104,506
File size: 965 KB

About the Author

Bill Schweigart is the author of Slipping the Cable. He lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife and daughter, who provide him with all the adventure he needs.

Read an Excerpt

Prologue

Thursday, November 6

Manny Benavides hated being called to Barcroft. It was a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood, but the residents were getting angry. He was a member of Arlington’s Public Health Division, and so rodent control and animal trapping fell to him, and it had been a busy year. This afternoon’s call was a woman who lived on the edge of the woods, just off Four Mile Run—a wolf sighting. This was Arlington, Virginia; they had snakes, bats, and deer. A small number of coyotes had returned after a long absence and there had been a rare black bear sighting at the county’s northernmost edge, but no wolves. Not for two hundred years at least. The woman who called sounded elderly and probably didn’t know a gray wolf from a German shepherd. Still, it was his job to solve problems, or at least pacify the taxpayers.

Barcroft had a legitimate problem that took up most of Manny’s time: rats.

In the past year, he had been called out to Barcroft more than any of the other neighborhoods, mostly dealing with animal control issues that could be traced to one resident, the Roux woman. An animal rehabilitator on 3rd Street South. She took in raccoons for the county and nursed them back to health, but the conditions were horrible and attracted every manner of vermin the county had to offer. Manny appreciated what she was trying to do, but more important, he appreciated balance. Arlington had its own ecosystem, and she was single-handedly throwing everything out of whack in Barcroft. And there was something wrong with her, something off. She was young, and he could tell she had been pretty once, but the one time he was on her property, she had unnerved him. He had pointed out dozens of rat burrows surrounding the foundation of her house.

“You have to do something about the rats,” he told her.

“What do you mean ‘do something’?” Her voice had a faraway quality.

“Well, kill them.”

“But I don’t want to kill them.”

After that, she would not answer her door.

She was the source of the problem, but unless neighbors complained there was not much the county could do. He could issue a citation if her neighbors filed for one—and they did so, monthly, like clockwork—but she had thirty days to comply or be fined. He found that she would do the minimum work to avoid the fine, then things were twice as bad the following month. The neighbors were furious. He was sympathetic to their plight and urged the residents to organize and continue their filing. It was the only way she would get the message. It was the only way he could maintain some control and protect the balance.

He parked in front of a red-brick house near the base of 7th Street South, a short, steep avenue that bottomed out and dead-ended at a guardrail with a stand of trees crowded behind it like unruly spectators. Beyond the trees and running perpendicular to the pitched avenue was the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, the paved path that ran alongside Four Mile Run. The woman was old, but she seemed completely rational. He explained that she had probably just seen a fox. She looked unconvinced.

Manny smiled. “Ma’am, I’m New Mexico born and raised. I know wolves. Coyotes too. If there was either within ten miles of here, I’d smell them,” he said, tapping his nose. “I promise, it was probably just a mean old dog.”

She looked toward the woods at the bottom of the street. “Big dog then,” she said.

Manny ran through the precautions with her, to be polite. Keep any pets indoors, especially at night, starting at dusk. Bring all pet food inside. He asked her if she had any problems with rats, but she had not. “I’ll just have a quick look around, if you don’t mind.”

“Not at all,” she said and went inside.

A quick look around the base of her house and her fence line confirmed there were no burrows. It was almost 5 p.m. and getting dark, but he climbed to the top of the steep street, grunting, then started back down, looking over other houses in the fading autumn light. He had to be let onto properties to do an official inspection, but he doubted if the neighbors would have minded. In Barcroft, they were on the same side. Luckily for 7th Street South, it seemed anything coming out of the woods was heading straight toward the dinner bell up on 3rd. He suspected the “wolf” went there as well.

Manny walked down the street, passing houses to his left side, the woods on the right. The woods dropped off steeply on the opposite side of the old woman’s house, down to a ravine that branched off Four Mile Run. For being such an urban area and so close to Washington, D.C., Arlington abounded with woods. You just had to know where to look. A network of streams and trails connected more than seven hundred acres of parks and natural lands, nestled in and between neighborhoods just like Barcroft. The business districts and residential areas may have been Arlington’s economic muscle, Manny often told residents, but its circulatory system was truly green. Finally, he stopped at the guardrail at the bottom of the street. Beyond the rail there was an opening in the trees where a short path led to the trail and Four Mile Run. He had turned back up the hill to his truck when he heard the baby’s cries.

He bounded down the path and burst through the brush onto the Washington & Old Dominion Trail, commonly called the W&OD trail. He looked up and down its paved length but saw nothing, no runners or bikers in distress. He stood there for a moment, then smiled and shook his head. Probably a parent biking past and pulling one of those kiddie trailers, and he had heard a snippet of a crying child as they zipped past. He thought those things looked silly, like a stagecoach, but as he caught his breath and his pulse slowed, he had to admit, maybe those parents had the right idea. At fifty-five, perhaps it was time to get more exercise than his job afforded, chatting up old ladies about raccoons in their chimneys or wolves in the woods.

The sun had set and all that remained of the crimson sky was a thin red line over the trees to the west. It was November, just after the dreary end of Daylight Savings Time, which had freshly sliced an hour of sunshine from his day. Too dark too early, he thought. He turned his back to the trail and was on the short path back to the road when he heard it again.

A baby crying.

He brought his hand to his mouth and called out. The crying continued at the same volume, as if the child had not heard him. It was difficult to get a bearing on it. It sounded like it came from inside a well but it also seemed to drift down from the branches overhead. A trick of the autumn wind, he told himself. For a moment, he thought of La Llorona, the Crying Lady, who drowned her children in the Rio Grande to impress a suitor. When the man was understandably not impressed, she had killed herself, but her spirit roamed the riverbanks, wailing and taking children after nightfall ever since. It was just a bit of folklore his father told him to keep him from falling into the river, but he shivered. He called out again and closed his eyes to listen harder. The crying floated around him. He had started for his truck to get a flashlight when he cursed himself.

The stream. He had not checked Four Mile Run.

He sprinted back down the path and crossed the trail to the edge of the valley. The stream was thirty, maybe forty feet below, and the steep face was choked with vines and roots, rock outcroppings jutting out and obscuring the bank directly below him. Stream my ass, he thought. It looked like a river. Water, from a week of heavy rains up north, roared over the rocks. It was so loud you could barely hear yourself think, even at this height. In the valley, it was darker and harder to see, and a corner of his mind nagged at him to get the flashlight, but the crying was clearer now, pinpointed. And insistent.

“Hang on!” he yelled. “I’m coming!”

He clambered down as quickly as he could. Halfway down, clinging to the undergrowth, he wiped the sweat from his eyes. He peered over the lip and spied a figure below. “I’m coming.”

The figure turned and sniffed the air between them.

Manny swiped his eyes again and blinked. What he saw should not be here in Arlington.

He moved faster scrambling up than climbing down, using every limb and muscle to get back to the trail, to his truck that would take him away. Promises and prayers jumbled his thoughts. If I make it, Madre Mía, I’ll exercise, he thought. His heart burned, but he shot up the tangle as fast as his body would allow. He got his head over the edge and raked at the valley wall with his feet to clear it, but the thing caught his ankle and pulled. For a moment, he could see the trail, just feet in front of him. Beyond that, the small beaten path that led to the guardrail, the border between the woods and Barcroft, between this nightmare and the real world. Then came a sharp, wrenching pain. Manny hollered, but in a split second his leg was blessedly free again.

He pumped it but found no purchase. He looked down and saw his foot was gone.

With the little air left in his lungs, Manny threw back his head and screamed. Maybe someone on the trail would hear and come running, but it was November now and too dark too early. There was no one to flag down, and the rushing water drowned out his screams just the same. He wasn’t going to make it to the truck or the trail or out of this valley. It had him by the knee now. The trail slid from his view. Overhead he saw the stars beginning to reveal themselves on a clear night, framed now by the walls of the valley. Then the beast pulled him down into the stream and he saw nothing. The last thing he thought before losing consciousness was his inability to distinguish the icy sting of Four Mile Run from the teeth.

Customer Reviews

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The Beast of Barcroft 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like the great original stories of King and Koonz this book is character driven and has a plot line that draws you in then sinks it's teeth in and won't let go. At least three times I was sure I had everything figured out out only to be proven wrong. To me this puts the book well ahead of the cheap easy to read thrillers that take up way to much shelf space. I've already ordered book two with high expectations of continued reading enjoyment. Also this book was a complete story...no cliff hanger. Jp
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another fun book from Bill Schweigart. The story moves well with a nice combination of suspense and horror plus a vein of funny throughout. The characters are well developed and multidimentional. I am a fan of Christopher Moore and this effort from Schweigart reminds me of Moore's early work. I can't wait for his next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was really enjoyable and we'll written. The author has an easy style and is a master at writing dialog. The action scenes are well paced, the creepy stuff is creepy and I cared about the characters. Really glad I gave it a try. Definitely will buy the sequel and this isn't even one of my favorite genres.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great, enjoyable read. Got the imagination stimulated . Fun.
Sodapop74 More than 1 year ago
This is a great monster story. Just when you think you know what is killing pets and the occasional person, you are proved wrong! Ben gains the help of some unlikely people when his life is "shattered". I hate spoilers, so I don't want to say too much. This is scary, sit on the edge of your seat and a bit gory. I loved every minute of it and can not wait to read the next book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fun read, edgy and enjoyable
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fun, creepy and a real page turner. Loved this book and the characters! This author is really a good writer. So glad I found this book and his next one which I am reading now.
rsm_bedford More than 1 year ago
Could not put the book down! The book grabbed me right from the start, I felt like I was right there. I could see it doing well made into a movie. Highly recommended, good story, fast moving and no filler. I will be looking for future book by this author. After reading this I bought Bill Schweigart other book The Beast of Barcroft and I am enjoying the adventure of the two main characters one again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have not read this book so far but from the telling of the story it would be something that I would read. I read about 2 to 3 books a week. When I get a little bit a head I plan on reading it. Thank you
reececo331 More than 1 year ago
The Beast of Barcroft by Bill Schweigart The neighborhood had a problem, one of the neighbors has gone crazy. Her perpetual feeding of birds, and nursing of raccoon has become an obsession. This has caused many problems with rat infestations, and wild life intrusions into the neighborhood. Causing the disgruntled neighbors to band together to try to change things. The hard part of the story does not begin until the untimely death of the bird lady. The neighborhood is loosing its pets, and the disappearance of the Animal control officer has been over looked. This is a dark and dangerous tale of mistaken blame, and resolution to the wrongs and slights of the modern world. The mythology of the story is nearly as unbelievable as the story itself. A very dynamic story with an ending that will have the readers on their toes.
Diane_K More than 1 year ago
Barcroft has an eccentric resident - Madeleine. Her house is the cesspool of the neighborhood - rats, rats and more rats are spreading all over the neighborhood from her house. Something is strange in the neighborhood - pets are missing, strange animal cries in the middle of the night and then people dying. There is something not quite right in town. Ben's greyhound is killed but no one will believe what he saw. The story builds in intensity, people are dying and Ben needs help. The Beast of Barcroft is not your average horror story. It is well written with a well thought out plot. It keeps you turning pages and I didn't want to put it down. The characters all have depth and history without going into pages and pages of unnecessary details which is something I like in all the books I read. I received this book from the author in exchange for a review. For more information about Bill Schweigart please check out http://billschweigart.com/
BrandieC More than 1 year ago
Thank goodness I know my neighbors well; otherwise, The Beast of Barcroft might well have left me cowering behind locked doors and drawn blinds. This terrific, fast-paced horror story was hard to put down, so I was delighted to discover that it may be the launch of a new series featuring not only traumatized suburbanite Ben McKelvie, but also National Zoo great cat curator Lindsay Clark, Native American indigenous studies expert Alex Standingcloud, and eccentric (is there any other kind?) cryptozoologist Richard Severance. What prevented The Beast of Barcroft from earning five stars was its relative lack of character development, particularly with respect to Standingcloud and Severance, who clearly have a relationship predating the events in this novel. I look forward to them acquiring more depth in the sequel, Northwoods, which is scheduled for publication in February, 2016. I received a free copy of The Beast of Barcroft through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Bev_Ash More than 1 year ago
This was a very suspenseful book. I enjoyed it immensely, It kept me reading past my bedtime and I was afraid I would have nightmares. I didn't, but the next morning, before breakfast even, I was reading the book again. The main character, Ben, is well developed. He has his flaws, but is a kind hearted man trying to survive. The other characters were also well rounded. The plot was exciting and interesting. I can't wait to read another book by this author. I received this book free from NetGalley for an honest review.
Caroles_Random_Life More than 1 year ago
Wow! I ended up enjoying this book a lot. I was in the mood for something a little different with a bit of blood and freaky stuff and this book filled that need perfectly. This story kept me guessing and I found it really hard to put down once all the weird stuff started happening. I ended up reading most of it in a single night. This is the story of the Bancroft neighborhood. The neighborhood has that one house that is causing everyone trouble and Ben happens to live next door. The woman who lives at the problem house has created a bit of an animal problem for the entire area. She nursed raccoons back to health in her house, fed every bird in the area, and created a huge rat infestation. When she dies, you would think that things would get better but it doesn't. Ben's large dog, a 90 pound greyhound, is killed in his own backyard by an animal, possibly a cougar. This event starts a chain of events that will terrorize the entire neighborhood. This story started out strong and really stayed strong throughout the story. There was a lot of action with quite a few bloody moments to keep things interesting. I will admit that I was really wondering where everything was going in the story which is a huge plus. I just love a book that is unpredictable and keeps me guessing. Some of the weird things that happen in this story are outside the realm of what would be considered normal. I thought that the characters in this book were strong and likable. I think that anyone who owns a house in a neighborhood has that one house on the block that drives everyone crazy. Let me tell you...that house is a palace compared to the Bancroft house. I think that Ben has done much better than I ever could have with his next door neighbor. I did like how the author showed how the stress had had an impact on Ben. Lindsay works for the National Zoo and specializes in big cats. Her job and the way she deal with the situation were very well done in the story. I really enjoyed this author's writing. The pacing of the story was well done with lots of excitement. The story seemed to flow together very nicely. The characters were average people and I found myself chuckling at their dialog at times. I love how the author worked a few movie lines into the story sometimes tweaking them to make it work. All in all this book was just a lot of fun. I would highly recommend this book to others. It has just the right blend of horror, unexplained events, and even a few comical moments to keep the pages turning. This is the first book by Bill Schweigart that I have had a chance to read. I look forward to other book in the future from this author. I received an advance reader edition of this book from Random House Publishing Group - Hydra via NetGalley for the purpose of providing an honest review.
Joceanne More than 1 year ago
birdladyvm More than 1 year ago
The neighborhood near the seat of power for the U.S. should have been a fantasy come true; old stately homes, quite neighbors, the perfect place to live. Do not be deceived, something is very wrong in Barcroft, Virginia. It started with the neighbor from hell, Madeleine Roux, raccoon rehab, feral cats, rats, and an ecosystem altered inviting something evil to come, commune, and feast on the community. Ben McKelvie's life has been on a downward spiral for sometime, however the horror to come will forge him into the man he was meant to be. Along with a small group of fellow believers, Ben will fight for his life and community. Hero's will emerge before the end of the story. Mr. Schweigart grabbed me from the first paragraph. The tension, evil, and horror leaps off each page. The story never slows as horror after horror is revealed from the imagination of Mr Schweigart. He keeps you guessing, what is behind the savage killings, is it a big cat, a wolf, a man; you will have to read this story to find out. You will be hooked and unable to put this book down as you journey down the road of mystical native creatures, evil, and people who rise to the occasion to fight against the unknown. The plotting was excellent in this story and the character development was spot on. I loved watching Ben become a strong man in a world gone wrong and the twists and turns kept me guessing. I highly recommend this book for those that love an adventure filled with evil and things unknown, a great story line, and well-developed characters. I look forward to the sequel due for publication in early 2016. Great job Mr. Schweigart! I received this book from the publisher and Netgalley in return for an honest review.
jcmonson More than 1 year ago
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley When I first read the description of this book, I was expecting a werewolf story. What I got was something much more interesting and imaginative. The beast is indeed something that nightmares are made of. I loved the fact that they bring in a cryptozoologist. I could have read even more scenes with him. I enjoy it when there are explanations to legitimize the monsters. The main character, Ben, was at times likable, and at times not so much. But he was still an interesting, well written character, full of flaws. The story had plenty of action, and a satisfying ending. I really enjoyed this book.
Connie57103 More than 1 year ago
What an incredible ride! The excitement level for me is completely off the charts. It begins by introducing the neighbors in a community meeting about the strange woman who is bringing down property values and attracting vermin like crazy to her yard. We come to find out that Barcroft is a quiet bedroom community just outside of Arlington, VA. The homes back up to a deeply wooded trail with a steep drop that leads down to a stream which eventually feeds into the Potomac. Something absolutely insane happens to get your attention immediately. Someone acting as sort of "animal control" is called out for a "wolf" sighting by an old lady. Only, this person never makes it back to his vehicle. Then, the relatively new next door neighbor to the weird lady who is attracting all matter of vermin into her unkempt yard actually witnesses a mountain lion kill his huge greyhound in his very own backyard. The huge cat nearly mauls him, too, but stops just short of his throat then runs away with the dead dog flopping lifeless in his massive jowls. Things only intensify for Ben when a few neighbors meet their untimely and extremely gruesome demise. Only the local police don't pay him any mind when he tries to make sense of it all. I have never been so engrossed in a thriller/horror book like I was with this one. I found myself unable to sleep. All I could do was obsess over what was going to happen next, and is Ben safe in his own home. Bill Schweigart draws you in with his incredible knack of compassion for a character, and then zaps you with dose after dose of fear, anticipation and gruesome details. You cannot predict what is about to happen next. You may think you have it all figured out, but you are tantalizingly wrong on this non-stop thrill ride into the wickedly wild funhouse of fear. Bill's sequel, Northwoods, will be out in February, 2016. Until then, this book is worth a second or third read. You may find things you've overlooked before. Leave your doors locked and your lights on. I am very grateful to Random House Publishing Group - Hydra and to Netgalley for allowing me to have a free advance copy of this book in order to read and give my honest opinion.
jayfwms More than 1 year ago
What can I say about a book that gave me goosebumps and kept me from sleeping? It starts out so ordinary and slowly drags the reader into a shadow realm where an unstoppable beast reigns supreme. So much of the book is very real, including the characters and their interactions. Having lived for a time on Arlington Ridge, I was struck by my familiarity with the locations and the accuracy of the descriptions. The story is great, and ends on enough of a question mark to encourage further reading. This is a great book and a keeper.
PollyH More than 1 year ago
Good, solid, creepy horror story! With great character development and a formidable, malevolent enemy, I couldn't stop reading this one. It definitely pays to check out your neighbors before moving in! Bill Schweigart has hit the mark with this book, especially because he includes rats, rats, rats! As a long-time Stephen King reader I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this to any horror fan who has felt that chilling, hair-raising reaction to evil in all its incarnations. Good to discover a new author and I will be looking for more from Mr. Schweigart.
ScifiandScary More than 1 year ago
The title and the blurb both interested me. The comparison to King made me hesitate. Its been stated before that I'm not a huge King fan. This is still true. So, I looked it up on Goodreads, and when I saw the page count, decided I'd give it a shot. I'm happy to report that the comparison to King - thankfully - is only in regards to the twisted story with an interesting ending. Schweigart does not fumble the ball and go off into tons of extraneous detail or unneeded character exposition like King does. He just delivers an awesome, somewhat corny at times, story that definitely fits the bill for a spooky afternoon read. The author does a good job of plopping you down in the middle of a situation, and hitting the ground running. The main character has realistic flaws, needs his happy pills, and is a bit of a toe-rag. He still manages to be someone you root for, though. The other characters are all individuals in their own ways, no cardboard cutouts, and you find yourself cheering them on quite happily. The action is fun, the pace is quick, and the imagery is great. I'd highly recommend this to anyone who loves a good afternoon horror story. Especially if you're also a King fan. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.