In honor of William Shakespeare’s birthday (week) …
My new thriller Spider weaves allusions to MacBeth throughout the plot, because it features several megalomaniacs. In a recent blog post I mentioned the Weird Sisters, three administrators from Tolchester College that the tortured detective Jay Braden finds anything but helpful in his investigation of the Cliff Top Serial Killer.
Jay initially believes he’s chasing one killer when in fact two murderers are skulking around River Glen. In addition to the Cliff Top Serial Killer, the other is the pathologically ambitious treasure-hunter Pamela Dodd.But Pamela, like Lady MacBeth, is haunted by her actions. Despite the frantic washing of her hands in the sink of her yacht Knot-A-Care and in the swampy waters of the Devil’s Spit, she just can’t wash away that damn spot.
Spider … two interwoven murder plots … a clash of megalomaniacs on the cliffs of the Chesapeake Bay
Photo credits: Partying William (pinterest.com), Crown of Blood (emaze.com)
In the newly released Spider, book 2 of the Chesapeake Tugboat Murders ...
A walk across the lovely campus of Tolchester College evokes in the widowed detective Jay Braden bittersweet memories. He reminiscences about meeting his beloved Laura on a college campus; on that same weekend she had tried out for a part in MacBeth. Laura was hoping to get a part as one of the Witches.Jay is escorted on his walk by three Tolchester administrators: the president, the dean of Academics and the dean of Student Life. Throughout Spider, Jay will refer to them as the Weird Sisters. They are chatty and friendly but oddly oblivious to Tolchester’s troubling history. Or are they? He wonders … is one of the Weird Sisters the Cliff Top Serial Killer?
The year is 1688. The killing of a mute cabin boy by the sadistic captain Bartholomew Dodd is the last straw for the crew of the pyrate ship Raven. Giles Hale and his fellow pyrates drag Dodd to the gunwale. The livid Dodd grabs for Giles to pull him overboard with him, but instead yanks Giles’ dagger from his belt. Dodd splashes into warm Florida waters below. The Raven, her holds heavy with Spanish treasure, leaves him flailing in her wake. Tiger sharks circle the deposed captain. He lunges out and slices open a passing shark. While the sharks devour their own, Dodd drags himself to shore. Giles’ dagger has ironically saved Dodd’s life.
But Dodd is marooned.
This work “Marooned” was painted by Howard Pyle in 1909 and now resides at the Delaware Art Museum. Pyle’s stunning illustrations created – distilled – the image of the pyrate that is now part of our popular culture and psyche. The simplicity of “Marooned” brilliantly tells a complex story. Scorched yellow sky and sand. A pyrate slumped in despair, his isolation intensify by a departing flock of birds. Water is distant and salty, undrinkable.
Fast-forward to 2018. In Spider, the marooned Bartholomew Dodd survives and produces children. One of his descendants, an equally deranged great … great daughter Pamela arrives in River Glen on the Chesapeake. Her plan, at any cost, is to retrieve the Raven’s – Dodd family – treasure. And Pamela is convinced that the crabber Alex Allaway on the Vital Spark and a descendant of that cursed Giles Hale, knows exactly where the Dodd treasure is hidden. Allaway, whether she wants to … or not … will be Pamela’s new treasure-hunting partner.
The year is 1773. A brash young midshipman named Horatio Nelson took off in pursuit of an ice bear, his intent to bring a bear skin home to his father. Nelson’s rifle jammed and the bear attacked. Had his mates on HMS Carcass not fired off the cannons to frighten the bear, Nelson might have been the carcass.
Fast-forward to 1815. The eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia has devastated the global climate. Far across the world, the ice pack north of Spitsbergen has fractured. Is there a breach leading to the northern pole? Her Majesty’s Navy sees an opportunity. They secretly modify a small, fast whaling ship and send her north. Will HMS Petrel be the first to claim the pole and her riches for Britannia? En route, Petrel’s naturalist Robert Crombie and a brash midshipman Liam O’Toole shoot a she-bear and steal her cub. Beware … they have roused the wrath of Oddvar the Ghost Bear of the North.
It is done … my newest short story On the Strange Voyage of HMS Petrel, a chilling tale of the weird and horrible.
Painting of Nelson and the Polar Bear by Richard Westall (1806) at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich London