where the writers are
KNOTS The Third Novel in the Award-Winning Justin Barnes Series
KNOTS ~ A Justin Barnes Novel
Not available.

Robert gives an overview of the book:

 Knots finds Justin Barnes once again faced with hunting down a serial killer who could possibly ‘beat the system’ by being found insane, cured, then released back into society. It is antagonist Kalvin Matheson's goal to have his deceased twin brother, Alvin, and himself cloned. Justin and a team of homicide detectives cleverly devise a way in which the serial killer will take his own life in a fashion befitting a consummate executor of knots.
Read full overview »

 Knots finds Justin Barnes once again faced with hunting down a serial killer who could possibly ‘beat the system’ by being found insane, cured, then released back into society. It is antagonist Kalvin Matheson's goal to have his deceased twin brother, Alvin, and himself cloned. Justin and a team of homicide detectives cleverly devise a way in which the serial killer will take his own life in a fashion befitting a consummate executor of knots.

Read an excerpt »


MAY first may have ended the last of April’s showers, but Kalvin Matheson was still crying into his beer, literally, and had been for most of the morning. The man poured from a longneck bottle of Budweiser at 6 a.m. as he sat listening to 103.9 WRIV, Riverhead, Long Island news. The sadness that engulfed him still centered on the never-ending reports of his two fallen heroes’ deaths, although the latter had been shot to death last summer; the summer of 2002. The first man’s body was recovered two years earlier, found deep-sixed in one hundred sixty-some feet of water off the coast of the Atlantic, just southeast of Shinnecock Inlet. Both men were gone but not forgotten. The initial accounts of their demise had been sketchy, but Kalvin knew where to lay blame.

Matheson’s depression mounted by the moment as he sat there gazing out of the dirty back windowpanes of his home. The yard, in particular, was unsightly. The grass lay bent yet stood practically the height of his neighbor’s bordering, manicured, boxwood hedge. Unattended gardens that once bloomed in all their glory, especially the tall purple and pink irises, were already overrun with weeds. Mature male and female hollies stood entwined within a series of thick, strangling vines. Now, merely solitary splotches of splendid color could be seen among the choking, knotted entanglement.

Not only did the dispirited soul lag behind in yard work, but he was painfully aware of a growing list of chores that needed immediate attention regarding the house itself: scraping, sanding, caulking, painting, staining—fixing this and that. Lack of motivation, not time, was his nemeses. Kalvin knew he could no longer blame his melancholy on the two men’s cold-blooded murders, for he had been depressed for many months . . . years, actually. In truth, he had been despondent most of his adult life. And when you considered the fact that he never had a childhood . . . well, what could or would anyone make of that? An emotionally and spiritually bankrupt baby boomer would certainly have had to be one’s immediate assessment on summing up the situation, the tortured soul ruefully decided.

Alvin’s death, a decade ago, had taken its toll, too. Kalvin had not worked since the day of his brother’s demise.

“Kalvin and Alvin,” he so sadly sighed and sobbed before the old collie sleeping on the floor in the corner of the kitchen. “Alvin and Kalvin,” he lamented.

Like a pair of bookends.

Two peas in a pod.

The phone rang, but Kalvin did not answer it. Twenty minutes later, he listened to the doorbell and heard a package drop into the vestibule. FedEx Ground. Doubleday Direct.

“Yeah, like I really have the time and motivation to read a book on saltwater fly-fishing,” he said with a sigh. “Maybe in another lifetime.”

Matheson knew from the start that he was not nearly as clever as his two unsung heroes, Malcolm Columba and Clarence Emery. The intellectual disparity between the dynamic duo and he could be measured in light-years. Brilliant versus bright. The man was certainly smart enough to realize that and laughed away his tears. Still, Kalvin positively believed that he had something going for him that neither of his two pals had possessed in life.


Soundness of mind in a nutshell, he giggled.

Kalvin once heard both men speak at a convention in California. Malcolm Columba had acknowledged him with a smile. Clarence Emery had actually spoken to him—even said his name.

“Hi, Kalvin.”

It was the happiest and proudest day in his miserable little life. Imagine. Happy and proud. Both proud and happy in a single day. Unbelievable, it seemed. And now they were both gone. Columba and Emery. Brilliant minds. But crazy as they come.

“Not I,” Kalvin confirmed aloud before the collie, watching Poochie languidly raise its head from a pair of large paws. “I am as sane as I am sensible.”

Kalvin drove a sensible car, wore sensible clothing and shoes, and ate and drank sensibly. His former boss at the insurance company repeatedly told every person in the office, as he had once told Kalvin’s brother, Alvin, too, that Kalvin Matheson was the most levelheaded employee he had ever known.




They were certainly qualities that would put him above suspicion if and when he ever did what he had half a mind to do, now that his two heroes were history.

Levelheaded, sensible and sound, Kalvin ticked off satisfactorily in his mind.

But did he have Columba’s and Emery’s courage to act? Did he have their stamina and drive? Probably not, he pondered.

And so he wept anew.

This time, however, it was more of an exasperated, I’m just feeling sorry for myself sob, rather than an expression of sympathy over the loss of his two pals. Kalvin deludingly allowed himself to think of the pair as his pals. “And why not? Surely they were. Maybe one day soon they will be—once again.” Kalvin forced a little smile.

The following morning, Kalvin was all cried out, expressing his condolences, privately, in the form of a silent, somber prayer; for he felt sure there had been no formal service or funeral to attend concerning Clarence Emery, wanting, at the time of the heartfelt news, to call Suffolk County authorities for confirmation but was afraid of raising a red flag.

Undoubtedly—as with Columba’s dredged-up corpse from the depths of the Atlantic coastline—Emery’s body—removed from the floor of a hospital room in Brookhaven—had been slipped and zipped into a body bag, then shipped off for burial to an unmarked grave . . . or simply cremated.

But where? Kalvin had wondered.

Where would the state have buried or cremated the unclaimed bodies of two serial killers who, like himself, had no family? Immediate or otherwise. More than likely the authorities had assigned the two masterminds a burial plot—he sincerely hoped—along with a recorded number, just as Pilgrim State Hospital, the psychiatric center in Brentwood, had done with his brother, Alvin.

He would finally make it his business to find out for sure. Clandestinely, of course.

Alvin and Kalvin.



Even their own mother would have had trouble telling the two children apart at thirty yards if not for their actions and reactions whenever she called them at the top of her voice to the supper table.


Their one dependable meal of the day.

Rice and beans.

Beans and rice with catsup for a bit of variety, he cursed her inwardly . . . the two brothers having fought furiously over the small chunk of bacon from the Campbell’s can.

Around the holidays, in a time gone by, when business was booming, the local butcher as well as the fishmonger would set aside whatever scraps of meat or fish were on hand, offering up the packages free of charge, from which Kalvin’s mother would prepare soup—a rare treat for the family. Both merchants felt sorry for the woman who had lost her husband to a disease of the mind that no one ever spoke about—openly, that is—least of all, the usually loudmouthed relatives. All long dead and favorably forgotten.

Other than the number 246 recorded on Alvin’s grave marker, there was no inscription upon the flat 12 x 6-inch weathered sand-colored stone, overgrown with vegetation of the all-invasive weed-bearing kind. With good reason, Kalvin was positive that, soon, not a living soul in all the world would know or even care of its existence. No one but he, that is.

By the following afternoon, Kalvin was consumed with a single question. Did he have the guts and gumption to follow in Malcolm Columba’s and Clarence Emery’s footsteps, now that both his superheroes were dead?

He promised himself to visit Alvin’s grave before doing anything foolish.

robert-banfelder's picture


The Reality Movement presented in this work is forged after the actual Raëlian Movement, an existent religion founded in 1974 by Claude Vorilhon.

Likewise, Clonite, Incorporated, introduced herewith, is fashioned after Clonaid, an actual human cloning company having philosophical ties with the Raëlian sect.

This work is steadfastly framed in fact. I have, of course, taken literary license in the construction of this novel. Hence, the events and characters in this work are fictitious, based on extensive research referencing these two institutions.


About Robert

Robert Banfelder grew up in Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey, a rural community where he enjoyed hunting and fishing. Robert currently lives on the North Fork of Long Island with his lifelong partner, Donna, where they both enjoy outdoor adventures. He is the proud parent of Jason...

Read full bio »

Published Reviews


Ah, the master of suspense thrillers returns with a fast-paced and terrifying story that will chill you to the bone, even on the hottest day of the year. Banfelder brilliantly creates each unthinkable...


This is one of the best books I have read this year! Robert Banfelder is a masterful, storyteller, who has written a fantastic, and terrifying tale about evil and what it takes to stop it!