A few years ago, I was given a wonderful opportunity. I had a chance to have a book signing at a bed and breakfast on Ward’s Pond in Dolgeville, New York.
It is a glorious old home that once belonged to Judge George Ward. As I sat in the parlor admiring the antiques and lovely furniture from a bygone era, I couldn’t help but notice the portrait of the judge hanging on the wall. He had a severe expression and I felt like he was watching me, the eyes following me everywhere I went. A book, Murder in the Adirondacks, sat on the shelf, piquing my curiosity. My hostess was only too happy to share with me the connection of the book with the imposing figure hovering behind me. Back in 1906, a young man named Chester Gillette took a young woman named Grace Brown out on Big Moose Lake in the Adirondacks. Only Chester came back. He would soon become the center of attention in what was the trial of the century at the time, capturing the imagination of the entire nation. As for Judge Ward, he was the prosecutor who was so convincing in pleading his case, Chester went to the electric chair.
I was fascinated by the story. It wouldn’t let me be. I started to do research. I discovered there were many books that were inspired by this true event in upstate New York, that Unsolved Mysteries had covered mysterious sightings of a ghostly woman on Big Moose Lake, and the tragic tale inspired A Place in the Sun , a movie with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift. I watched it and saw a different spin on what happened between Chester and Grace that fateful night.
A story began brewing in my mind…and Walking with Ghosts on Ward’s Pond was born, bringing a journalist named Charlie Baxter to Ward’s Pond as he delves into the Gillette-Brown case once again, over a century later, hoping to remove the stain of a murderer from his family’s name. He cannot shake the shadow of Gillette weighing on him. A woman named Katherine Grace Brown is a guest in the bed and breakfast as well, tormented by nightmares of a woman drowning in a lake at night. A woman she has never seen before. She and Charlie will come together in search of answers, both haunted during their stay in the stately old home.
The novel takes some new twists and turns from the various fictional and historical accounts about the death of a young couple–one by drowning, one by execution. It makes you think about the phrase, “There are always two sides to a coin.” Is my version the truth…or are the others? Only two people know…
but Chester and Grace aren’t talking from beyond the grave. You be the judge.
If you are in Johnstown, New York, on July 6th, I would love to chat about it at my book signing at Mysteries on Main Street from 1 to 3 PM. Drop in!