THIS OLD HOUSE
A Lily Blooms in the Jaws of Hell
VICTORIAN MYSTERY SERIES
I walked out of my grandmother's home on Stockbridge Street in Eagle Lake, Texas, late on a Sunday night, and stared across the street. Against the night sky, all I could see was the crumbling walls that were nothing more than a ghostly silhouette of some previous grand existence. The evening summer breeze whistled through the trees bringing with it the laughter of children who once lived there and the caring call of a mother letting them know dinner was ready.
This novel has been in the works since its beginning in 2005 when a century and half old colonial style home was restored by the author and his wife, Barbara. For over twelve months, the house did an amazing transformation, the third time since its original construction in 1845. The first time it was restored was 1861. The second time in 1932 and the last time in 2005.
Although a work of fiction, the story was inspired by actual events that will raise the hair on the back of the reader's neck. What happened to the woman who disappeared overnight? Stand and watch a paint lid as the name "Annie" is written in cursive in the wet paint right before your eyes. Or, listen to the heavy footsteps of a construction worker on the roof in the middle of the night? Smell cherry tobacco smoke in the hallways when no one is around? What lies under the white limestone rock in the rose garden, other than dirt?
We don't wish to spoil the suspense by telling what all the events were that inspired James into writing this story, but we will tell you a bit about the story.
In THIS OLD HOUSE, James creates a historical mystery set in the small town of Eagle Lake, Texas, only an hour drive to the southwest of Houston in the late 18th century. Visiting the old house or what was called the Smithson's Inn named after Wm. T. M. Smithson, who moved there from Weimar Texas in 1854. Visiting the well known Inn are a number of Americans, French aristocrats, and a couple who earlier in the day married in Stafford's Point near Rosenburg, Texas, Mister Johnathan Thompson, and the former Miss Rebecca Davison.
When they arrived, they insisted on staying on the first floor and were given an old room that was once a parlor converted into a bedroom.
Annie Smithson, the proprietor of the Inn and daughter of Wm. Smithson, became involved when there was a murder, but the body disappeared and was nowhere to be found until sixteen years later. The story evolves into one of hidden passages, murder, deception, and general chicanery ensues.
Although most of the old homes built in the mid-1800s in this small community have been destroyed, this home still stands, and the part of the house removed from it still stands on the adjacent lot next door, which by the way was the kitchen at one time.
Again, this is a story of fiction for entertainment purposes. But, haunting events did occur in this home that inspired the author to write this story!