When Nole Darlen kills his father—the man who has built the largest house anyone in these East Tennessee hills has ever seen—the single resounding gunshot sets up a dark patchwork of memory and expectation that gathers-up townspeople, hill-folks, lovers and outlaws. Here is a tangled tale involving the dead man’s wife, neighbor Burlton Hobbes, desperado Jem Craishot, and a grizzled muskrat-trapper named Hogeye.
Central to the story is a pistol that Nole Darlen has taken from a card game the night before the murder. The pistol becomes a totem to Nole, an embodiment of the frustrations and failures that have dogged his life. He envies and fears the outlaw, Jem Craishot, wishing he, too, could be “fearsome,” but descends, instead, into cowardice and betrayal. Eventually, the gun becomes a central element of the novel’s twisted story, a talisman of murder, and a key to the book’s shocking ending.
Richard Hood brings to bear his deep roots in rural East Tennessee. The plots and subplots of Regret the Dark Hour are based on true stories. The house still exists, the patricide really happened, the outlaw—Jem Craishot—is based upon the legendary Kinny Wagner, whose exploits derive from this time and region. The novel’s social and cultural backgrounds are accurate, and call-up the rich heritage of East Tennessee.
The novel has been called “Southern Gothic Noir,” and Hood describes it as an “anti-mystery.” There is never any doubt about who killed Carl Darlen, but the story turns and weaves through the day of the murder and ends with a startling, dark, surprise.
Here is a story of family violence—its simmering causes and smoldering consequences—set against the clashing tensions of old-and-new, fiddle-tunes and factories, among the hills and coves of prohibition-era East Tennessee.
Praise for REGRET THE DARK HOUR:
“Richard Hood’s Regret the Dark Hour is a search for Regional Truth and the ways memory, representation, and history intertwine to produce stories, interpretation, and character. This novel is a triumph—giving us the sound and flavor of prohibition-era East Tennessee, in a mix of voice, perception, and blindness embedded within the darkly tangled story of a family murder.” —Shelby Stephenson, Poet Laureate of North Carolina and author of Paul’s Hill: Homage to Whitman; Our World and Nin’s Poem
“Regret the Dark Hour calls up a story of betrayal, forbidden love, and familial violence in prohibition-era Appalachia. Hood’s stunning and lyrical writing vividly captures the world of this forgotten time period. A beautiful debut and wonderful addition to southern noir.” —Jen Conley, author of Seven Ways to Get Rid of Harry