She is said to be the ghost who haunts the Hotel del Coronado near
San Diego to this day. Lethal Journey is a noir period thriller,
closely based on the true 1892 crime story that created the legend
of the ghost. Read this entertaining novel, and painlessly learn a
great deal about the Hotel del Coronado, as well as San Diego and
U.S. history. The Beautiful Stranger appeared out of nowhere in the
early afternoon of Thanksgiving Day, 23 November 1892, without
luggage or a chaperone--very bad form in strict Victorian society.
She registered under a false name at the brand-new resort and hotel
owned by mega-wealthy John Spreckels. Over the next five days, her
elegant and refined manner attracted much attention from hotel
guests and staff alike. So did her stranger behavior and odd
statements, and the fact she was next to broke, though she behaved
like a great stage actress. Nobody would ever really know who she
was, where she came from, what her mission at the expensive resort
was, or why she met a violent and mysterious death. Until, that is,
John T. Cullen published his nonfiction, scholarly analysis *Dead
Move: Kate Morgan and the Haunting Mystery of Coronado* in 2008.
*Lethal Journey* is a fast-paced, riveting period thriller--a
powerful distillation of the factual analysis in Dead Move, plus
some of the most rousing elements of the now 120-year-old legend.
Her name was not Kate Morgan, as a 120-year-old coverup by John
Spreckels' Pinkerton-type agents would have us believe. She was not
the wife of a gambler who murdered people on trains. Her name was
Elizabeth 'Lizzie' Wyllie, which was the first I.D. on the body
after authorities realized that Lottie A. Bernard was a false name.
From this novel, a very enjoyable read, learn the real truth about
how the ghost legend of the Hotel del Coronado came into being.
Learn the grim and unforgiving customs of the times, whereby a
beautiful young woman like Lizzie was 'ruined' for life upon
becoming pregnant out of wedlock, by her married shop foreman at
Binn Hammond bookbindery in Detroit. Out of desperation, she
latched up with a ruthless, sociopathic grifter from Iowa named
Kate Morgan. Kate had developed a scam of working as a temporary
domestic in wealthy households, under an endless variety of assumed
names, and then blackmailing the father of the household before
disappearing once again into anonymity in the Wild West. Only the
Frontier closed officially in 1890, according to the U.S. census.
The blackmail plot on John Spreckels, son of the internationally
wealthy 'Sugar Baron' Claus Spreckels, was to be Kate's biggest
heist by far. She recruited poor, beautiful Lizzie and Lizzie's
bumbling lover, John Longfield, even as Spreckels was in the White
House, negotiating with family friend President Benjamin Harrison
over the fate of sovereign Hawaii and the fabulous Spreckels sugar
cane plantations there. Both Kate's plot and the Spreckels cane
were doomed to a dark end within weeks of each other. Kate would
escape into history, Longfield would return to his wife and
children in Detroit with a false story about Lizzie's new life in
Canada, and the real Lizzie lay dead and buried in a pauper's grave
in San Diego under the name Kate Morgan. In the long term, Lizzie
gave rise to a famous ghost legend. In death, she became that
ultimate Victorian ideal of womanhood--the Fallen Angel. Every
Victorian author, composer, and painter tackled this famous ideal.
Perhaps the most famous is Thomas Hardy's Tess of the
D'Urbervilles. But Lizzie, decked out like a princess in her coffin
in a storefront window in San Diego for thousands to view, was
Tess, who became a real and tragic woman, and died among us.
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