Novel Excerpt: Silent Night Violent Night

Carol J. Verburg ’70 is a freelance author, playwright, and  consultant. A storyteller ever since she could talk, Carol spent the 1990s collaborating on theatre projects with the late artist and writer Edward Gorey. Their friendship inspired her novel Croaked: an Edgar Rowdey Cape Cod Mystery and her monograph Edward Gorey Plays Cape Cod, as well as her play Spin, or Twilight of the Bohemians, winner of the 2012 Centenary Stage Women Playwrights’ Series and the 2011 Ashland New Plays Festival.   Her international literature collections Ourselves Among Others, Making Contact, and The Environmental Predicament have inspired thousands of college writing students. In her latest novel,  Silent Night Violent Night: a Cory Goodwin Mystery (2011, Boom Books), two former Mount Holyoke College comrades-in-arts grapple with the dark side of publishing. Carol shares Chapter One with us below.


Chapter One

As I swung out of Copley Square onto the Mass Pike, the band on my radio swung into “Hernando’s Hideaway.”  Desultory snowflakes were drifting through the orange sky like petals.  Half an inch, the weatherman predicted.  I’d picked this station because Oxbridge, Connecticut, is a three-hour drive from Boston and the rest were all playing Christmas songs.

Silient Night Violent NightMy dad taught me “Hernando’s Hideaway” longer ago than I care to remember.  He’d stand me on his shoes and we’d sing it together as we tangoed across the parquet floor of our Manhattan living room.  Dad’s a ballroom virtuoso.  As my mom says, he’ll always have that to fall back on when he irks the State of New York into revoking his detective license.

What I hadn’t noticed until now is that Robert Frost wrote “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” to the same tune:

My lit, -tle horse, must think it queer

To stop, without, a farmhouse near . . .

Try getting that out of your head when your alternatives are “The Little Drummer Boy” and “Jingle Bell Rock.” Continue reading