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Official Hotel del Coronado Heritage Department book: Beautiful Stranger: the Ghost of Kate Morgan and the Hotel del Coronado - ISBN 978-0916251734 - 2001, 2005 - limited availabilityWhy Two Books?

One Nonfiction, the other a Fictional Dramatization

How It Started For Me. I have lived in San Diego over 40 years, and heard of the so-called Kate Morgan ghost story long ago. Like most San Diegans, I found the story to be a vague muddle of myth, confusion, and contradictions. For a few years, I worked at the Hotel del Coronado in the Transportation Department, which put me inside the hotel's remarkable world of history and mystery. Of the people who have weighed in on the 1892 crime story (from which the famous but separate ghost story derives), only I and the official hotel historian have actually worked in the hotel and experienced its living aura. During this time, I read the hotel's official Heritage Department book that started it all for me: Beautiful Stranger: the Ghost of Kate Morgan and the Hotel del Coronado.

Dead Move, a Nonfiction Scholarly Analysis. Equipped with a lifelong study of history, three college degrees, and professional experience in the disciplines of journalism, editorship, and most areas of writing, I set myself a scholarly task. My primary interest was not in a putative ghost, but in the actual true crime that occurred in 1892. In a classic Einsteinian Gedankenexperiment (thought experiment), I constructed my investigation within rigorously reasoned boundaries. The hotel's well-researched book explores every aspect of the legends and the written records surrounding the story, but draws no substantive conclusions. My thought experiment was this. If I used the hotel's official book as a guide, could I go a step further, tie all the loose ends together in a way that makes sense, and solve the puzzle? After considerable study, drawing maps on large sheets of paper, and internet research of my own, I arrived at the only plausible solution anyone has ever offered.  TOP

Lethal Journey—Fiction, Dramatization. While the intriguing findings in Dead Move make for a lumbering, cautious behemoth of footnotes and exhaustive iteration, I felt that a genuine thriller lurked within this story. I am, in fact, an Active Member of International Thrillers Writers, an organization founded by my fellow thriller authors including Clive Cussler, David Morrell, Tess Gerritsen, and other great writers. My goal with Lethal Journey was to harness the best of both my analysis and the rousing legend, to create a noir period thriller in the tradition of The Prestige and The Illusionist. A rare, rousing novel with appendices (shades of Michael Crichton!), Lethal Journey also offers a broad understanding of the classic Victorian Fallen Angel, as well as information about the broader, global circles in which this story actually moved (fall of the Hawai'ian monarchy, bittersweet life of Princess Victoria Ka'iulani, and much more). I will soon add more info on these globe-girdling tangentials.  TOP

Historical Fact or Fiction? In an over-abundance of scholarly caution, I initially released the first edition of Dead Move as historical fiction. Realizing that it would not be taken seriously, and that the story deserves a more assured footing, I rewrote the book (second edition) shortly thereafter as history/nonfiction. I kept the dramatization in Part VI as a helpful illustration of how I think the saga played out from hour to hour, and day to day, based on the hotel's official book and other historical information.  TOP