As part of the Murder as a Fine Art Virtual Book Tour, author David Morrell wrote a feature/guest post for your enjoyment! Be sure to check out other stops on the tour for giveaway opportunities, interviews, and more guest posts! You will fin the tour schedule at the end of this post! Without further ado, please join me in welcoming David Morrell to The Lit Bitch!
Guest Post by David Morrell
Opium is the sap from the poppy plant. Morphine and heroin are some of its derivatives. Those drugs are so controlled these days that you might be surprised to learn that for most of the Victorian era, opium was legally available almost everywhere—from the butcher, the landlord, and the kid selling newspapers on the street.
Its most common form was laudanum, a mixture of pulverized opium and brandy. Laudanum was as common in Victorian homes as aspirin is today. It was used for everything from baby colic, menstrual cramps, back pain, toothache, and cancer. But despite its prevalence, the concept of addiction was unknown. Overusing laudanum was considered simply a lack of character. Few people dared to reveal their weakness.
Enter Thomas De Quincey, whose 1821 memoir CONFESSIONS OF AN ENGLISH OPIUM-EATER was the first book about this secret problem. Until he died in 1859, De Quincey was known as the infamous Opium-Eater. Although a tablespoonful would be lethal for anyone not used to it, he sometimes drank an astonishing sixteen ounces a day.
De Quincey’s opium nightmares gave him an insight into the hidden chambers of the mind. He invented the term “subconscious” and anticipated the theories of Freud by 70 years. He also inspired Edgar Allan Poe, who in turn inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to create Sherlock Holmes.
My new novel MURDER AS A FINE ART features De Quincey as its main character: the prototype of the first private detectives. He was obsessed by the infamous Ratcliffe Highway murders, a series of mass killings that terrorized London and all of England in 1811, rivaling the fright caused by Jack the Ripper at the opposite end of the century.
De Quincey’s blood-soaked essay about those killings, ON MURDER CONSIDERED AS ONE OF THE FINE ARTS, makes him the creator of the true-crime genre. My historical thriller, MURDER AS A FINE ART, takes off from where the essay ended, making the Opium-Eater a suspect in identical brutal murders.
For two years, I researched 1854 London until I felt I was there. I read and reread De Quincey’s thousands of pages until I became a ventriloquist for him. My goal was to make readers believe that they were in 1854 London, and I finally felt that I succeeded when I could describe how graveyard space became so crowded that coffins were stacked on top of each other to a level of twelve. Gravediggers would jump on the levels to compact them and squeeze in a new coffin.
Details like that made me feel that writing a historical thriller about 1854 London was like going to Mars. It was a fascinating, exciting journey.
ISBN-10: 0316216798GASLIT LONDON IS BROUGHT TO ITS KNEES IN DAVID MORRELL’S BRILLIANT HISTORICAL THRILLER.
Thomas De Quincey, infamous for his memoir Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, is the major suspect in a series of ferocious mass murders identical to ones that terrorized London forty-three years earlier.
The blueprint for the killings seems to be De Quincey’s essay “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts.” Desperate to clear his name but crippled by opium addiction, De Quincey is aided by his devoted daughter Emily and a pair of determined Scotland Yard detectives.
In Murder as a Fine Art, David Morrell plucks De Quincey, Victorian London, and the Ratcliffe Highway murders from history. Fogbound streets become a battleground between a literary star and a brilliant murderer, whose lives are linked by secrets long buried but never forgotten.
Monday, May 6
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Tuesday, May 7
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Wednesday, May 8
Review at Sir Read-a-Lot
Friday, May 10
Review at The Lit Bitch
Monday, May 13
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!
Wednesday, May 15
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Friday, May 17
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Monday, May 20
Review at Unabridged Chick
Thursday, May 23
Review at Bibliophilic Book Blog
Friday, May 24
Review at JulzReads
Monday, May 27
Review at From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, May 29
Review & Interview at Layered Pages
Friday, May 31
Review & Giveaway at Psychotic State Book Reviews
Thursday, June 6
Review at The Bookworm
Friday, June 7
Review at Raging Bibliomania