This is the second in a series of monthly blogs about the places, people and events that make up the Booker Falls Mystery Series. If you would prefer to no longer receive these blogs, please let me know and I will remove you from the list.
The Booker Falls Mystery Series, including Strangled in the Stacks, is what is known as historical fiction. What that means is that the stories are made up, and set in a time other than the present. It also means that the characters—at least most of them—are fictional—not real.
The main characters in Strangled in the Stacks—Myrtle, Henri, Daisy, Mrs. Darling, Mr. Pfrommer, George—are all fictional characters.But there are also many real people who are mentioned and two who appear as characters. They include: (musicians), (Franz) Schubert, (Felix) Mendelssohn, (Ludwig van) Beethoven, (Johann) Bach, (Wolfgang) Mozart; (religious), St. Patrick, St. Barbara, St. James, Mathias, St. Paul, St. Anne, St. Joseph, Salamon clericus, St. Henry, Alojzije Stepinac, Virgin Mary; (authors) Booth Tarkington, Friedrich Nietzsche, Beatrix Potter; (politicians) Ambrose Burnside, Chase Osborne, Woodrow Wilson, (Kenneth Ingalls) Sawyer; (artists) (Paul) Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Pierre Renoir; (performers) Rita Romilly, “Slim” Jim Austin, “Spareribs” Jones, (miscellaneous) General John J. Pershing (military), George Gipp (athlete), Queen of Croatia (royalty).
As I mentioned, two actually appeared as characters in the story. Myrtle tells George of her meeting Renoir at the Louvre in August, 1919, as she was studying his painting, Madame Charpentier and Her Children. Renoir did actually visit the Louvre that month, and that painting was being displayed there. He passed away four months later on December 3rd. Renoir is the only actual person who had dialogue in the book. When George and Myrtle go for dinner in Red Jacket, they spot George Gipp walking down the street. Gipp, a famous football player for Notre Dame, was a native son of Laurium and was actually in the area at that time. Three months later, on December 14th, he died at the early age of twenty-five of a throat infection (remember “Win one for the Gipper”?).
Mention must be made of two other individuals listed above. Myrtle thought Mr. Pfrommer’s muttonchops reminded her of Ambrose Burnside, whose own muttonchops were so famous they became known as burnsides—a term later converted to sideburns. And that Parisian apartment at number eleven, Boulevard de Clichy where Myrtle spent the night with Thomas, who told her the painting on the wall had been done by a previous tenant—Pablo Picasso? Well, Picasso really did live at that address twelve years earlier, in 1905. That’s fact. The painting? Okay, that’s fiction.
Next month I’ll be writing about automobiles in Booker Falls ca 1920.
Tomorrow, Saturday, February 4th, I will be selling my books at the Ancestral Trails Historical Society Book Fair in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, at the Prichard Community Center, 404 S. Mulberry St. from 10 AM to 4 PM. If you’re in that area, stop by my table and say hi—and maybe buy a book!