by Linda Stratmann
Throughout Queen Victoria’s reign, and for 20 years beyond, people in America and Great Britain were absorbed by spiritualism. Followers believed that the spirits of the dead can and want to communicate with the living.
It drew people as prominent as Mary Todd Lincoln, grieving the death of her son Willie, and author and physician Arthur Conan Doyle, whose son died in World War I. Mrs. Lincoln held seances in the White House that her husband President Abraham Lincoln attended.
In 1862 in London, the Ghost Club was founded to scientifically study paranormal activities. It drew members including author Charles Dickens, physicist Sir William Fletcher Barrett and paranormal investigator Harry Price.
Mr. Scarletti’s Ghost is set at the height of spiritualism in Brighton, England. The protagonist, Mina Scarletti, is the daughter of the so-called ghost. Suffering from spinal scoliosis, she is about the size of a child and walks with an “odd, limping, lurching gait, like a small dark bird with a broken wing.”
But her condition has spared her from having to fulfill conventional expectations. As a result, she has a great deal of freedom and independence of thought. The author of horror and ghost stories for children, Mina has a well-grounded understanding of the difference between invention and reality.
This is not a typical mystery story; there’s no dead body. Mina’s concerns about her widowed mother’s involvement with a Mr. Bradley and his healing circles, and her mother’s friends’ infatuation with a Miss Eustace and her seances leads Mina into further investigations of mediums and their methods.
What she quickly learns is that the desire for contact with a dead loved one is no match for reason, even among intelligent, educated people. Mina proves to be a tireless crusader to protect her mother, her friend Dr. Hamid and others from cold-hearted con artists claiming to be in communication with the spirits of the dead.
How she manages to make enthusiasts see reality is just as suspenseful as a typical murder mystery.
About the Author: Linda Stratmann
Linda Stratmann comes from an Orthodox Jewish family who immigrated to London from Poland in the early 20th century. She began writing at age six and started a novel at the age of 11. After leaving school, she trained to be a chemists dispenser with Boots.
After getting married, having a child and discovering that being a housewife was not her destiny, she went to Newcastle University in 1971 and earned a degree in psychology. She went into civil service as an Inspector of Taxes.
Living in County Durham, she was active in science fiction fandom. When she realized that the things she enjoyed doing and the people she enjoyed being with were in London, she moved there in 1987. She left civil service in 2001 and was commissioned to write her first published book on the history of chloroform in 2002.
In addition to Mr. Scarletti’s Ghost, Stratmann has written two other Mina Scarletti mysteries: An Unquiet Ghost and The Royal Ghost. She also is the author of the Frances Doughty mystery series, a series of books on true crimes and three biographies.
In addition to her literary work, she practices aikido and earned her black belt in 2000.