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Saturday, November 18, 2023 @ 4:00 pm EST - 5:00 pm EST

Meeting Location:
  • Hybrid
The Muse Writers Center
2200 Colonial Avenue, #3
Norfolk, VA 23517 United States

Dan Hennelly Book Launch and Q&A

Join The Muse Writers Center for a reading by Dan Hennelly from his new book, Norfolk Confidential. After the reading, there will be a Q&A and book signing. This event will be held in person at The Muse and copies of the book will be available for purchase.  See the Muse’s current Covid-19 policies. For those who are not able to attend in person, there will be a live stream of the event on the Muse Facebook page or register to join on Zoom.


About the Author: 

Daniel Hennelly, a retired Old Dominion University administrator, has resided in Norfolk since 1966. He is the author of two murder mysteries, Fatal Knowledge and Stairway to Death, set at fictional Chesapeake Bay University, and a science fiction saga, Slave Against The Galaxy. His noir murder mystery, Norfolk Confidential, was published in June 2023. It explores the seamy streets of Norfolk on the eve of World War II. Dan’s wife is a retired librarian, and they have three adult sons.

About the Book:

The social, racial, and religious prejudices of 1940’s America provide the backdrop for Norfolk Confidential, a noir murder mystery.

June 1940 – Brash homicide detective Johnny Edmonds patrols the streets of Norfolk, Virginia, a seamy southern seaport where sailors, easy money, and fast women provide the ingredients for murder. Johnny knows the streets well after six years on the force. Early Saturday morning, Johnny gets a call from his superior that a body is waiting for him downtown in the alley behind the Monticello Hotel. Guests don’t check into the Monticello, Norfolk’s finest hotel, to get murdered. Murders take place on East Main Street, where the sailors flock to enjoy the show at the Gaiety Burlesque, and swill beer at taverns with names like the Krazy Kat, the Dolphin, and the Neptune. Although prostitution is illegal, the city fathers look the other way, deciding it’s better for the sailors to partake in the pleasures of the flesh at a brothel than chase after their wives and daughters.

Smartly dressed, the deceased does not appear to be a typical Norfolk homicide victim. Although his wallet has been emptied, the dead man was stabbed in the back. Most pigeons in Norfolk are stabbed in the gut if they refuse to give up their money. His library card identifies him only as Karl Rothenberg, a slim lead for Johnny to follow.

At the library, Johnny learns that the victim is a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany and a chemistry professor at a local college, not the type who goes looking for trouble in Norfolk’s back alleys. Later in the morning, a second homicide is assigned to his caseload, Chester Newcombe, a Negro racketeer who Johnny knows from his vice squad days. Due to Norfolk’s segregated society, the two killings seem unrelated.

Johnny gets his first break when he interviews a roomer at the boarding house where the professor resided. Professor Rothenberg was involved with the daughter of a local mobster, Rocco Diangelo. Like an octopus, Rocco has his tentacles wrapped around every criminal enterprise in Norfolk. During Prohibition, Johnny’s father was Rocco’s bootlegging competitor. After his father was shot dead in the street, a patsy was convicted and executed for the murder, Johnny wasn’t fooled. Only Rocco benefited from eliminating his father, One day Johnny will settle his score with Rocco.

Rocco’s wife has secured a coveted invitation to the debutante cotillion for their daughter. Was Professor Rothenberg eliminated because he was an unsuitable beau for Rocco’s daughter? Johnny had also heard rumors that Chester Newcombe wanted a bigger cut action of the action from Rocco. As Johnny moves through Norfolk’s seedy underbelly to solve the two murders, Rocco is the common denominator in both murders.

Now cloaked with respectability, Rocco wouldn’t dirty his hands with the two murders. Johnny starts searching for a hired gun from New York who gave Rocco a two for the price of one bargain. After a shootout with the suspected killer, Johnny becomes aware of a more sinister menace that may be behind the two murders. Has he allowed his personal vendetta to cloud his judgement?

Please note: This class or event is hybrid. Some attendees will be in-person and some will attend online. There may be a limited number of in-person seats available. If you are participating online (using Zoom or a similar live platform), students or attendees should have a stable internet connection. Class participants: you should have a computer or device with a webcam and microphone; and your Zoom link will be automatically sent to you after you register. Check your spam box if you don't see it.