Jeff Dennis Storyteller
Jeff DennisStoryteller 

KING OF THE HOBOS (2012)

"A millionaire superhero. Derek Parnell can outfight you and out-think you. He's equally at home in a boardroom or a hobo camp. And he's on our side! A fun read about a fantasy crusader in a very real world. Great character for a series: a millionaire riding the rails, paying cash to stay anonymous, spouting libertarian ideals and hunting criminals ... it's a great hook."

 

- Heywood Gould . . . Bestselling author of Fort Apache the Bronx, Cocktail, and The Serial Killer's Daughter

What readers are saying on Amazon.com

"A Thrill Ride! Jeff Dennis has crafted a thrill a minute high-speed train ride with King of the Hobos. Set in a dystopian U.S. after a depression, it reminded me of Cormac McCarthy's The Road and Mad Max."

                                                                           - Shane Etter

"I really enjoyed this book. It has all the ingredients of a great thriller ... characters you can visualize, action, sex, bad guys, etc. It would make a great movie, and I would cast Bruce Willis & Angelina Jolie as the two main characters. Set in the southwest, you can tell that the author has done his research on not only the geography of the area, but numerous other details. I can't wait for the seque!."

                                                                           - Jack Bornstein

". . . an action-packed thrilling novel with sex, drugs, violence, and everything else that entertains many readers. It also shows an ideology of what the western world would become in the event of a complete Wall Street crash. King of the Hobos is truly a work of art."

                                                                           - David Shockley

". . . as chilling and as proximate as Dennis presents this hobo culture, this is not meant to be merely a somber cautionary tale; it is a rollicking, entertaining story too, complete with blood and sex and intrigue and surprises. King Midas, former exterminator turned moneyed CEO, humanitarian and vigilante, is a marvelous protagonist, who has chosen boxcars rather than learjets to transport him in his quest for answers and healing after his wife and daughter are killed and a mysterious stranger begins making massive deposits in his bank account. Whether he finds either is the question that propels the story down the tracks. King of the Hobos is great fun to read and a welcome tonic for anxiety brought on by our actual economic circumstances. Find a copy and enjoy!"

                                                                           - C. H. Ramsey

Synopsis

America has plunged into a second Great Depression. The unemployment rate hovers near 40%. Hundreds of thousands are homeless, roaming the country in search of food and work and two pennies to rub together. Just as with the original Depression of 1929, men hop freight trains to get from one location to another. Hobo camps have sprung up everywhere. The American landscape is dangerous and teeming with violent predators. Only the strongest and most fearless survive in this Mad Max milieu where everything, including human life, is up for grabs.

 

One of these wanderers in this brave new world is Derek Parnell. Seven years before, a house fire in upstate New York claimed Parnell’s wife and 11-year-old daughter. Arson investigations prove the fire was deliberately set. Devastated, Parnell vows to find his wife's and daughter’s murderers and to get revenge. A few key clues point west, to Arizona, possibly Utah and Colorado. But the fire has wiped him out financially, which limits his mobility.

 

A month after the homicide verdict, Parnell is approached by a mysterious man who calls himself Croesus. Croesus sets him up with a large sum of money, but gives no explanation before vanishing. Parnell finds the timing of this gift suspicious and so expands his investigation to discover the identity of his very generous anonymous financial backer. It’s all very strange, especially since there are seemingly no strings attached to the money. Parnell sets up a shell corporation to grow his newfound capital as well as to hide it from the government. Then, six months after the house fire in which he lost everything, he heads west to take on his investigation in earnest.

 

Even though he is now a wealthy man, Derek Parnell decides to take on the hobo’s life. For six years, he rides the rails, learning that people are more willing to talk to a dirty ragged hobo than they would some rich fat cat wearing an expensive suit and driving a flashy car. During his travels, Parnell develops a deep-seated empathy for the plight of his new hobo friends. He feels great guilt over his own lucky happenstance, so he spreads his newfound wealth around as he visits hobo camps. His reputation grows to near legendary status as the hobo community embraces him, anointing him with the grandiose moniker of King Midas. There is nothing Derek Parnell—a.k.a., The King—won’t do for his less fortunate brethren, including vigilante justice.

 

One of his reclamation projects is his current lover, Elaine Leibrandt, a former catalog model now living in Flagstaff in a house bought and paid for by Parnell. Six years before, Elaine was blinded in one eye by a boyfriend who, in a jealous rage, threw battery acid in her face. Parnell paid all of Elaine’s medical bills, got her set up in her new home, then tracked down and killed the boyfriend. The murder was not Parnell’s first, and it would be far from his last. His mindset? “Karma determines who gets to live or die, and sometimes karma has to be helped along a little.”

 

And now, almost seven years after the horrific house fire, Parnell gets a few solid tips that he feels will lead him not only to the arsonists responsible, but also the identity of Croesus and the reason behind the huge monetary gift. He also gets information from several sources that his daughter Jennifer possibly had not perished in the fire, and that she is still alive. Parnell has heard rumors to this effect over the years, but never this convincing. At one point he is even shown a murky webcast of a young woman who bears a remarkable resemblance to what he imagines his now-18-year-old daughter might look like. Her voice and mannerisms ring true as well. But is it really Jennifer? Or is it a trick to extort money from him?

 

Parnell and Elaine depart on a hellish journey to find answers. They ride the rails in true hobo style, calling on help from their vagabond friends along the way. Their trip takes them from a gypsy fortune teller in Sedona to a meeting with a mysterious operative named Thor at the Ancestral Pueblo Cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde in southwestern Colorado, then on to a connected high roller in Las Vegas, and finally to an anti-government radical fringe paramilitary group known as The Liberty Dogs high up in the wilds of the northern Colorado mountains. As they make their way on this treacherous journey, they leave a trail of death and destruction in their wake. And the discoveries they make are truly startling—for those who survive.

 

KING OF THE HOBOS

ISBN: 978-0-9819572-8-9 

Pub Date:  October 2012

Format: Hardcover /w dust jacket, 298 pages

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© 2015-2017 Jeff Dennis . . . Updated July 29, 2017