Historical Thriller

The Instrument of Darkness

A Digital Production

Historical Thriller 

Written by Rusty Harding

Screenplay by Rusty Harding

Granbury, Texas, 1876: A flamboyant bartender named John St. Helen lies deathly ill. He summons his best friend to his bedside and begins to weave an incredible tale of murder, mystery, and historical deceit. And before his story is finished, John St. Helen will reveal the truth: that he is John Wilkes Booth, the Instrument of Darkness.


"This story is a work of fiction. While it does portray actual personages, it is not intended to be a historical treatise, nor is it the final, authoritative version of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The story is based on published theories, historical speculation, and American legend; most notably that of John St. Helen, a Texas bartender who made the astonishing yet compelling claim that he was actually the infamous John Wilkes Booth." 

     — Rusty Harding

“Rusty Harding spent most of his early life traveling across the United States. As a result, he developed an insatiable appetite for American history, which is evident in his writing.  I was first introduced to his remarkable writing style a few years ago when he submitted a script to my publishing company, The Fiction Works. His book, a Western titled Murphy's Law, had me hooked before I finished the opening paragraph. I immediately bought the next book he submitted, The Instrument of Darkness, which is far more than just another tale about the assassinationof Abraham Lincoln by the infamous John Wilkes Booth.  It is a unique historical thriller that simply needs to be filmed, and that's what I intend to do. I have offered Rusty Harding a film option on his historical masterpiece, with the requirement that he also write the film script, because Rusty Harding is an extraordinary novelist, screenwriter and playwright."  

      — Ray Hoy, Producer

“Recorded history asserts that the killer of Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth, was tracked down, killed and burned in an old barn . . . (Rusty) Harding has taken the “what if” approach, something akin to what if Hitler is alive and hiding out in Argentina. What if Booth got away! What if when he thought he was on his deathbed Booth identified himself and told his full story? . . . The novel is written in a kind of older American English, as though it were either narrated or written in the late 19th Century, using slightly obsolete words and obscure meanings.  So it’s a fun read . . . Finally and most important, after reading the novel I finally understood the core of Booth’s personality.  Sure, he loved he South.  Yes, he hated Lincoln. But even more important he was an actor. And Booth’s world was the stage.” 

      — Jonathan Gubin, Lincoln Historian