The House Beneath the Damen Off-Ramp by William ClaypoolThe House Beneath the Damen Off-Ramp by William Claypool

The House Beneath the Damen Off-Ramp

byWilliam Claypool

Paperback | August 17, 2015

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 98 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


The House Beneath the Damen Off-Ramp is set on the gritty west side of Chicago.

It is a tale of suspense and human frailty. As the story begins, the reader is introduced to a young boy of about five, the third of six children, living in poverty. The boy is almost entirely deaf due to neglect of his chronic ear infections. He communicates to his mother and siblings through a combination of signing and monosyllabic words that are often difficult to decipher by his family, and impossible to understand by outsiders. He lives in constant fear of his mother’s boyfriend, a violent character who has repeatedly abused the family. As the story opens, the boyfriend has just entered the family’s apartment.


The young boy sees the boyfriend and quickly retreats to safety within a secret space he has created in the void between two walls of the apartment. While hiding, he feels disturbing vibrations around him and becomes even more alarmed. When he finally emerges from his hiding spot, he discovers that his family has been murdered and he is left alone with their lifeless bodies. Despite the horror all around him, the boy is relieved to see that the boyfriend is gone. He struggles to understand what has happened, all the while terrified of the boyfriend’s return. Overwhelmed with loss and terror, the child flees the apartment into the rainy night.


Fate intervenes to help the lost, speechless boy in the person of JJ Jefferson, a native Chicagoan who’s been living the good life in sunny West Palm. Jefferson has returned to his hometown on an annual pilgrimage back to his roots, focusing on visiting a wild cast of characters from his high school days, which includes a cop, a priest, a disabled jockey, and JJ’s on again/off again girlfriend.


JJ is a successful businessman, yet a little eccentric.  He prefers to camp out in a shack beneath the Stevenson Expressway when visiting, rather than bunk with friends. He sees this experience as a way to reconnect to his humble yet rough upbringing, and to hone the survival skills he learned in the military. It’s beneath this highway off-ramp that JJ stumbles across the bloodstained boy crouching behind a pillar. While definitely not in JJ’s plan, he becomes the boy’s reluctant protector.


JJ assumes the role of overnight guardian until he can deliver the young boy to the authorities. However, by the following morning everything changes, including JJ’s intentions. The action moves quickly over the next few days as JJ’s colorful friends are enlisted to help him protect the young boy, all of them unaware of the peril that threatens them by aiding the helpless child.

Time is of the essence as JJ searches for a way to communicate with the boy and gain his trust so that he can determine who he is and how he came to be covered in blood.  To what lengths will JJ and his friends go to protect the boy? Duty and morality clash while the hunt is on for the killer in this modern story of truth and consequence.



William Claypool's published writings span several genres. He has published scores of technical and scientific papers as a respected researcher and biotech entrepreneur. As a fiction author he has written several screenplays and has recently published his third novel. His fiction is primarily character driven and he strives to keep his...
Title:The House Beneath the Damen Off-RampFormat:PaperbackDimensions:238 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.54 inPublished:August 17, 2015Publisher:Meadow Lane PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0986063746

ISBN - 13:9780986063749

Look for similar items by category:


Editorial Reviews

A five-year-old boy witnesses the aftermath of a gruesome murder scene. Overwhelmed by the death of his mother and siblings, the partially deaf-mute lad wanders aimlessly around the West Side streets of Chicago. James Joseph Jefferson (aka JJ), a business entrepreneur with a bit of an eccentric personality, finds the distraught boy cowering by a dumpster. JJ gets his friends Donna, Manny, and Adele involved in caring for the little guy. Although they know the killer is at large, the friends are unaware that their lives are in jeopardy. William Claypool fashions an unnerving page-turner in his third release. Claypool's unique plot is replete with a colorful cast. Featuring a virtually silent main character, Claypool maximizes on the plight of a young child to develop his literary figures. JJ has money, but chooses to live on the street. Manny, wounded from a jockey accident, lives in a tank. Adele runs a bordello. And Donna, the most "with it" of the bunch, is JJ's long-suffering girlfriend. A bit of a motley crew, the friends haven't a clue to the impact a young deaf-mute child will make in their lives. Indeed, amid the tense plot, Claypool gradually yet meticulously creates his dynamic players. Set over an 8-day period, Claypool's third person narrative is nothing less than unsettling. Although the first several chapters have a plethora of trivial dialogue, which may give a slow moving and mundane appearance, there is a definite method to Claypool's madness. Readers will experience the underpinning tension while JJ and his friends, oblivious to impending danger, shoot the breeze. Claypool keeps his narrative fluid by utilizing the above-mentioned literary tools while constantly alternating between un-hackneyed character scenes. Attention-grabbing from beginning to end, The House Beneath the Damen Off-Ramp is a perfect read for suspense and thriller enthusiasts. 5 of 5 stars -San Francisco Book ReviewExceptionally well written, "The House Beneath the Damen Off-Ramp" is a riveting read from beginning to end and showcases novelist William Claypool's exceptional flair for creating memorable characters and embedding them into a consistently compelling and unfailingly entertaining narrative story lines. While highly recommended, especially for community library General Fiction collections.  -Midwest Book Review