The Bootlegger Chronicles
Tasting The Apple
An Interview with a ghost:
Hello- my name is Sherilyn Decter and I’m the author of a five book series The Bootleggers’ Chronicles. If you like feisty, street-wise heroines, 1920s criminal underworlds, corrupt cops, and just a touch of the paranormal, I think you would love these grand gangster tales.
Juneta at the Writer’s Gambit asked if I’d sit down with one of my fave characters from the series and have a bit of a chat. Of course, Inspector Frank Geyer is a difficult fellow to pin down, but finally I got him to give me a few moments and I hope you enjoy the chance to get to know him better.
Q: Inspector, would you care to introduce yourself?
Thank you. I was born in the middle of the 1800s in Philadelphia. Despite the fact that my father was a businessman, I had an early passion to pursue a career in law enforcement. It had a lot to do with my beloved brother, who went missing when I was a lad.
I worked on the police force for decades, and opened my own detective agency when I retired. Alas, I died of an influenza epidemic at the turn of the century.
Q: I was quite impressed reading your biography, to see you were the man who brought one of America’s first serial killers to justice.
Yes, HH Holms had proved to be very illusive. He’d confessed to killing twenty seven people, including a number during Chicago’s 1893 World Exposition in a building the press nicknamed “Murder Castle”. It was his kidnapping and eventual murder of the three Pitezel children that brought me into the case. He led me on quite a wild chase across the mid-west, up into Canada, and eventually home to Philadelphia, where he was executed for his crimes.
Q: How did you become involved in investigating criminal activity in Prohibition Philadelphia?
That such an interesting question. As a police inspector, you must understand that I am a very black and white, just the facts kind of fellow. Following my death, I found myself in the unexplained and mysterious condition of still existing in Philadelphia as a spirit or ghost.
I didn’t understand it, but years of being in the traces kept be following established routines. I watched with great sadness as my beloved city slowly succumbed to the criminal excesses brought on by Prohibition.
In 1924, a young boy had gone missing. There were many similarities between his disappearance and that of the Pitezel children. I joined in the searching, unseen of course. I was returning home from another fruitless search when a young women talked to me! She was sitting on her veranda, and it was the most profound experience. After being isolated for so many decades, to be able to converse with a human being, well—you can only imagine. It took a bit of convincing but eventually she agreed to work with me to help solve the boy’s murder.
Q: What was it like, a Victorian gentleman like yourself, to adapt to a new time and to work with someone as independently-minded as Maggie Barnes?
I had a ringside seat to many of the best innovations of the 20th century. Transportation including cars and airplanes, communication such as telephones and radios, innovations in the home such as refrigeration and electric washing machines. And of course, movies. Maggie took me to a movie for Christmas one year and it was astounding. It had sound and moving pictures. Yes, quite amazing.
And Maggie herself?
Well, Maggie was a challenge. In MY day, women were seen and not heard. They had no ambition to attend university or to begin a career, and they certainly didn’t vote or go into business for themselves; all things Maggie did. With great success I may add. It was always a bit of a battle in the early years, but eventually we reached an accommodation and frankly, became quite close. Yes, Maggie was a remarkable woman. It must have been very difficult for her to be alone, raising her son under very trying circumstances. I have nothing but admiration and affection for her.
I’d like to thank you for your time, Inspector. And for readers of this blog and the Bootleggers’ Chronicles, I want to reinforce that while you participated in the books in a fictional way, you very much were a flesh and blood man in Philadelphia. Perhaps before you go, you could address that? The challenges of being a factual person in a fictional novel.
It was difficult, as you know. As the author you had to do quite a bit of research to learn about the real me, before you could begin to shape the truth into a compelling novel of historical fiction. I appreciate how closely you stayed to the truth. And it gave me the unique opportunity to become acquainted with other real individuals from the Roaring Twenties, including your villain of the series, Mickey Duffy. What a cad he was, both in real life and in your novels.
The Bootlegger Chronicles
see how the ghost of a policeman helps a widow deal with criminal elements.
also has an exciting giveaway she’s hosting for the tour. Be sure to check it
out at the end of the post.
TASTING THE APPLE on Amazon.
fashion accessory after hemlines started to rise. And thanks to Prohibition, suddenly it was fashionable to break the law. The music was made in America-ragtime, delta blues, and of course jazz. Cocktails were created to hide the taste of the bathtub gin. Flappers were dancing, beads and fringes flying. Fedoras were tipped. And everyone was riding around in automobiles (aka struggle
buggies and I leave it to your imagination why- wink.)