Lewes resident publishes ‘The Beast with Seven Heads’
“The Beast with Seven Heads: An Improbable Sleuth Mystery” by Lewes resident Alfred Hanley, tells the story of how a bright but unassuming young college teacher — to protect himself from suspicion of a heinous crime and to save his family’s life — is impelled to expose and combat a preternatural and treacherous evil.
The story opens on a mild fall day in 1970, at a small provincial college. An arrogant senior professor is found dead in his office, killed by an injection of potassium cyanide into his carotid artery. By-the-book Detective Peters immediately suspects junior faculty member William Gavin of the murder because of known friction between him and the victim.
To clear his name, Gavin is thrust into the role of amateur sleuth and into a tense association with the earnest but unimaginative Peters — who, though perplexed by the academic’s unorthodox mode of investigation, is eventually compelled to follow his uncannily valid intuitions.
As the case unfolds, Gavin combines keen observation, smart inquiry, and sound logic with inexplicable impulses — and an awakening dependence on divine assistance — to solve the crime, and in dramatic manner to deliver the unlikely killer.
Gavin is driven to continue his investigation, however, when he discovers that the homicide is connected to a satanic cult practicing unspeakable rites — and now targeting his pregnant wife and three children. Through half a dozen deaths, two demonic manifestations, several other harrowing episodes, Gavin exposes and thwarts the diabolical web of evil.
Other characters — such as the college’s officious president, its enigmatic dean, a sundry mix of colleagues and Bill’s steadfast wife, Grace — cast in relief Gavin’s evolving character and conduct. And the events around the watershed year of 1970 — its iconic songs, books, and figures — provide coloration, as well as cultural context, for the tale that unfolds in “The Beast with Seven Heads.”
As one reviewer wrote in Catholic Book Report, “The Beast with Seven Heads is at times very exciting, at times very haunting, but never disappointing. … I look forward to Hanley’s next offering.”
Hanley is the author of two other novels ready for publication, “Apparition” and “Mickey’s Mystery, Blue” as well as of a scholarly book, “Hart Crane’s Holy Vision” (Duquesne University Press, 1981) and “Testaments: Poems in Witness of the Covenant” (Oblations Publications, 2013). “The Beast with Seven Heads” may be purchased at Browsabout Books in Rehoboth Beach; and all of Hanley’s published works are available at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other venues.
Hanley is a retired professor and chair of humanities and science from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia. Prior to that, Hanley served for many years at several colleges and universities as both professor and administrator to the level of vice president. And earlier on and along the way, Hanley worked as a high school teacher, an insurance underwriter, a financial analyst, as well as a supermarket cashier, a mail carrier, a truck mechanic, a paint store clerk and a freight handler.
Hanley and his wife, Loretta, have raised six children and have 18 grandchildren, and they are active members of St. Jude the Apostle Parish in Lewes. Among several citations and honors Hanley has received through the years are the 2012 the Medal of Merit awarded by the Most Rev. Francis Malooly, bishop of the Diocese of Wilmington, “for outstanding and faithful service to your parish and the diocese.” Hanley’s website is at Oblations.org.