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Howard Elman's Farewell

Ernest Hebert

Publication Year: 2014

Part Falstaff, part King Lear, but all American, Howard Elman was a fifty-something workingman when he burst onto the literary scene in The Dogs of March, the first novel of the Darby Chronicles. Now in this, its seventh installment, the Darby constable is an eighty-something widower who wants to do “a great thing” before he motors off into the sunset.

Maybe Howard achieves this goal, but he manages it in strange, wonderful, and dangerous ways. On his quest he’s aided, abetted, hindered, and befuddled by his middle-aged children, his hundred-year-old hermit friend Cooty Patterson, a voice in his head, and the person he loves most, his grandson, Birch Latour. At 24, Birch has returned to Darby with his friends to take over the stewardship of the Salmon Trust and to launch a video game, Darby Doomsday. At stake is the fate of Darby. And the world? Maybe.

Howard Elman’s Farewell begins as a coming of (old) age story, morphs into a murder mystery, expands into a family saga, and in the end might just follow Howard Elman into the spirit world.

This is a novel for people who like New England fiction with humor, pathos, and just a touch of magical realism.

Published by: University Press of New England

Title Page, Other Works, Copyright Page

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The Voice

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pp. 1

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Re In Car Nation

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pp. 2-17

Darby constable Howard Elman woke with the mocking words of the Voice still in his head. You are 87 years old and you still have not done that great thing to allow you to pass on into the next realm in peace. Peace! I never cared diddly-squat for peace. And, hey, maybe I’m...

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The Centenarian

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pp. 18-29

Darby constable Howard Elman (just barely) climbed a low boulder with a flat top, and that action got the attention of the thirty or so townspeople who had gathered at Cooty Patterson’s cabin in the hills above Darby Depot. Howard glanced at his left wrist as if it held...

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The Last Great Elm

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pp. 30-36

Minutes later Howard drove to the scene of the crime along a Class VI dirt road that wound through the Trust lands. The road petered out into a path that ended somewhere up a tree in a knothole where perhaps the ghost of Lilith Salmon, Birch’s mother, resided in...

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pp. 37-45

Howard dropped the two-cycle oil container at the state police barracks. (“You really think you’ll get a print off this? Har-har-har.”) Then he drove directly to Critter Jordan’s place on the main highway in Darby Depot. The rambling structure of connected wood-frame...

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The Greek Chorus

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pp. 46-64

Birch Latour was the sole heir of the Salmon estate and steward of the Salmon Trust Conservancy. Howard thought he took his legacy too seriously for his own good. Even before he went to college Birch had committed his life to the guardianship of the Trust, inspired

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Driving for Jesus

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pp. 65-80

Later that night, Howard and Birch met with Obadiah and Charley in Birch’s office, formerly the pool room in the days when men smoked cigars. The room was cluttered with samples of Birch’s hall-of-mirrors identity: a crucifix (gift from his grandmother Elenore Elman)...

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First Snow

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pp. 81-93

The weather turned cold and the sky threatened snow, though the forecast called for nothing more than a few flurries. Howard hoped for a big storm. He spent the rest of that day and the following steadily drinking beer and working on his vehicle. He changed the oil, put on...

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Auction Barn Surprise

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pp. 94-107

It snowed only enough to cover the ground. Charlene called after breakfast while he was finishing his coffee, caught him in a weak moment of musing, and Howard said, “I sold the house, land, everything, as is. They gave me a couple weeks to get out.” “Then there’s nothing keeping you. It’s 71 degrees here even as...

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Trail of the Tree

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pp. 108-125

By the time Howard returned to his suite in the Manse he was so weak with fatigue from the excitement of finding the body and the long car ride from South Texas that he didn’t even have the energy to crack open a beer and have a bowl of stew. He went right to bed, slept...

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Hi-Tech Tree House

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pp. 126-134

It was dawn, Christmas Day, and no one but Howard Elman was awake in the Manse. Howard went downstairs to the kitchen with its walk-in refrigerator and two gas stoves. He made some instant and ate co-op store grain with one percent milk and maple syrup. Birch and...

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The Master of Mesh

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pp. 135-145

They caromed off one another in the library of the Salmon mansion, Salmon Conservancy Trust Steward Birch Latour scrutinizing law books, Constable Howard Elman making a nuisance of himself by pacing, noisy handling of periodicals, and muttering...

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The Best Kind of Relations

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pp. 146-154

Upon his return to the Manse, Constable Elman napped. When he got up at 4:30 pm, he checked his email and was thrown for a loop by a message from Delphina. She wrote: “I don’t know what you done but thank you thank you thank you. I got a check from Critter in the mail...

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The Honcho of Great Meadow Village Childcare

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pp. 155-162

At first Howard merely cruised Critter’s hard drive, telling himself he was looking for clues but actually spending more time than necessary eyeballing the porn. The exercise began as exciting, grew tedious, then disturbing, and finally educational by telling him something of...

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The Awful Answer

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pp. 163-172

Later that day Howard decided to inspect the grounds outside the auction barn. Nothing back there but a tarp that he’d seen before. Look under the tarp. He pulled up a corner of the tarp. Ah-hah! The snow machine that Critter had promised his son. Been sitting here all along. Where did...

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Talkin’ Tahoka

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pp. 173-189

After his conversation with Birch, Howard left the Manse, helped himself to a bowl of stew, and visited Cooty in his cabin. The centenarian was dressed and alert in his Bruegel robe and acorn cap. They sat down to eat, Cooty’s hands on the tiny table folded as if in...

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Found Elm

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pp. 190-202

Howard remained at his old homestead, waiting to be evicted. Tahoka Texas McCloud was on his mind. What could he do for this granddaughter? Call her mother? He didn’t know how to find Heather. He had googled her under Heather Elman and Heather Cutter and...

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Vector Woman

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pp. 203-214

Dawn. Howard was awakened by vibrations. He cranked up his hearing aid, and now he could hear a truck in his driveway. He went outside. It was still cloudy, but the snow had stopped. About six inches had fallen. Nice little storm. Junior Kruger was just finishing up plowing...

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The Centenarian’s Tale of War and Woe

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pp. 215-221

Half an hour later, having followed Birch’s cross-country ski trail to the Manse, Howard parked the snowmobile and limped to Cooty’s cabin. Of course he entered without knocking, and was surprised to find not just Cooty on hand but Luci, Wiqi, Birch, Missy, and F. Latour...

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A Mother’s Will

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pp. 222-227

Howard returned to Re In Car Nation via Billy’s snowmobile. He had claimed it in part because he thought he might piss off Critter enough to smoke him out and in part because driving it pleased him. The next day it snowed again, another six inches. Two just-right storms...

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pp. 228-244

Confusing dreams on the couch. The women of his life once again seemed to pass in review—the mother he only met in her old age, who was dead before he really got to know her and couldn’t even remember the year he was born; his daughters, who he could never keep up with...

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pp. 245-255

While his daughter was addressing the people of Darby, Constable Elman limp-jogged to the pt Cruiser, slid behind the driver’s seat, and opened the glove compartment. He grabbed the pistol, enjoying its heft in his hand; he slipped in the bullets, rolled the cylinder, put...

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Darby Doomsday

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pp. 256-262

The next day Howard met with Birch, F. Latour, Tess, and Missy in Cooty’s cabin. F. Latour and Howard separated from the group and stood together in a corner of the cabin. F. Latour showed Howard the papers that Birch had dug up. Elenore was Irish, English, French, and Native...

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Howard Elman’s Farewell

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pp. 263-272

Howard spent that night on his couch at Re In Car Nation. He tried to contemplate his next move, but he was so tired he just fell asleep. The next morning when he went outside and stood in the driveway, something about the property didn’t feel right, though he couldn’t...

Author Notes

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pp. 273-276

E-ISBN-13: 9781611685909
E-ISBN-10: 1611685907
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611685411

Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2014

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Men -- New Hampshire -- Fiction.
  • City and town life -- Fiction.
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