Hokes Bluff welcomes back author to release new novel


By Sarrah Peters, News Editor

On Friday, August 18, the Hokes Bluff Library welcomed new author Ralph E. Jarells for a book signing of his debut novel “Ill Gotten Gains.” Jarells sold and signed advanced copies of the book, which is set to be officially released in October by publisher Wordcrafts Press.

Twenty-five percent of the royalty raised from the book’s sales will be donated to widows in India and orphans in Africa. During the book sale, attendees could purchase the $17.99 book for $20 to donate the extra $2 to the cause.

“Ill Gotten Gains” tells the fictional story of Thomas Edward Garrett, a Charleston, South Carolina antique dealer that finds treasure hidden in a secret room of his house. Among this treasure, hidden in a chest with a false bottom, are 30 pieces of silver, but this silver differs from the rest of the treasure. These pieces were Judas’s payment for betraying Jesus Christ, and are cursed.

“Ill Gotten Gains” chronicles the mystery of how the coins traveled to Charleston, with a timeline that weaves together fictional characters with historical figures to create a captivating story, told through Garrett’s cursed dreams that allow him to experience the macabre deaths of the coins previous owners.

The novel relays Garrett’s experiences with the treasure, including its impact on his romantic relationship with Ashley Cooper Barrineau and his attempts to auction the treasure, led by the main character’s hopes that the treasure will bring him recognition and acceptance in a society in which he feels he is an outcast for his Northern heritage. Although primarily a mystery, the story includes love, horror, pirates, the occult and more.

Jarells said that he has been working on this story on and off for about 40 years. The author said that he was “probably a weird kid,” but he always wondered what happened to the 30 silver pieces Judas received for his betrayal.

“Who hasn’t wondered about the ultimate fate of the 30 pieces of silver that were the price of history’s most famous betrayal?” said WordCrafts Press Publisher Mike Parker in a press release.

Jarells said that he was pleased that the Hokes Bluff Library was where his book was unveiled.

“The Jarells name has long been connected to the history of this area,” Jarells said in a press release. “Being asked to have a book signing among family and friends makes this a special day. I am sure my father would have been proud.”

Jarells resided in Ball Play for about seven years following his retirement from the marketing and advertisement industry. He currently resides in South Carolina with his wife Sybil, but still has a lot of family in the Etowah County area. The weekend following the book signing, Jarells attended a family reunion.

“Ill Gotten Gains” is Jarells first book, but he does not intend it to be his last. Jarells said that he has several more ideas for stories he intends to write now that he is retired.

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