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John T. Cullen's two books about the ghost at the Hotel del Coronado, and the 1892 crime that created her legend.Method

A Classic Thought Experiment

Method As a trained scholar and a professional author (journalist, novelist), I bring rigorous methods and standards to the task of analyzing the 1892 enigma at the Hotel del Coronado. While the ghost story is a lot of fun, and will satisfy most visitors to the hotel, I was interested primarily in the true crime aspect of her passage in 1892. My research involves no paranormal, no seances, and no dinners with the ghost—but pure logic, in the pursuit of an unsolved true crime of 1892. One may call it police work, or Sherlockiana.

First Plausible Explanation I merely set out to dissect the hotel's deceptively simple-looking (but extremely complex) book. I wanted to see if I could make sense of a very complicated case. With a few lucky insights, I was on my way to unraveling a great mystery story. this is the first plausible, comprehensive, *reasoned* solution to the so-called Kate Morgan mystery of 1892.

Selective Sourcing. I examined, and then eliminated, most of the various writings I have found about the subject, including Alan May's spurious 1987 book. I settled on a major printed source (the hotel's official book Beautiful Stranger), in addition to my own knowledge and research in history. I did many Internet lookups and researches (e.g., the San Diego Historical Society and Coronado Historical Association websites, among many). For quick lookups, I often used Wikipedia (while avoiding the doctored and untrustworthy Wikipedia entry for "Kate Morgan"). A major source for much background material was the Hotel del Coronado Heritage Department's official and excellently compiled history, titled Beautiful Stranger: the Ghost of Kate Morgan and the Hotel del Coronado. The latter, in turn, relied on many public records (police, city, library) and the San Diego State University Library collection about the Hotel del Coronado. I should add that I am a history writer, with respect and understanding re: the same scholarly methods as an academic historian. My research comfortably branched out into relevant areas of local, state, national, and world history. Once I understood the context of the mystery, it ceased to be much of a mystery. Once you understand that John Spreckels was the owner of the hotel, the rest falls into place pretty easily. Like any good scholar, I am always open to being proved wrong—but I am comfortable with the fact that my book stands on its merits, and that it satisfyingly touches upon every single loose end in the saga with a plausible explanation. A few writers have attempted to tackle this complex true crime story, but I have yet to find anything written on the subject that is exhaustive, accurate, and plausible as I feel my book is. The only other book of any value, in my opinion, is the official Hotel Del nonfiction/history Beautiful Stranger: the Ghost of Kate Morgan and the Hotel del Coronado, which was a strong source for my book, though I disagree on a few key findings—e.g., the identity of the dead woman, and the fundamental understanding of who owned the hotel in November 1892.

A Classic Thought Experiment. I performed my analysis over a year or more, according to rigorous, self-imposed rules in a classic Gedankenexperiment (thought experiment). My initial quest was this: using only the hotel's official book (Beautiful Stranger), could I solve an old true-crime mystery that has puzzled San Diegans for over a century? My research branched out into relevant areas of local, state, national, and world history. In the end, the answer turned out to be yes.

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