Uncovering the “DUST IN THE HEART”

We’ve just published Ralph Dennis’ crime novel DUST IN THE HEART , a haunting police procedural set in a small, North Carolina town 

It was the final, typewritten manuscript that Ralph wrote before his death and was discovered by Brash co-founder Lee Goldberg, who took on the task of editing the novel for publication. Lee talked about the editing process this week with The Rap Sheet, one of our favorite blogs and sources of information on the crime fiction scene. Here is an excerpt:

I struggled over whether to publish Dust in the Heart or to keep it in a drawer. The original manuscript was nearly 100,000 words and it was a mess … and yet, there was still something haunting, melancholy, and powerful about the book that wouldn’t let me go. I knew that Ralph was passionate about this novel. He told a newspaper reporter, and several people who were close to him, that he’d put a lot of work into it and had high hopes that it would be his comeback. It was also his final novel. Given all of those factors, I felt we had to release it to complete the full arc of his literary career.

So I dove into the manuscript, found the essence of the characters and the spine of the story … and began reshaping the book around that. I cut more than 30,000 words

It must have done the trick because the book has been enthusiastically embraced by critics.

Publishers Weekly said that “Dennis, with a sharp ear for dialogue, skilled plotting, and the ability to create fully developed characters, keeps the story fresh and the action believable. Any fan of Ross Macdonald or Ed McBain will thoroughly enjoy this outing,”

But the Paperback Warrior site went even further, saying “the author’s ominous prose is masterful. Dust in the Heart proves that even small-town America can be the most threatening. It’s this cold, sinister approach that makes Ralph Dennis’ final pen-stroke his most enduring legacy.”