In a recent radio interview I mentioned the fact that as part of my research for a novel I try to visit the locations that I write about. I walk about the area making notes and taking pictures for latter reference when I begin the manuscript. This was the case for my recent mystery “Murder Is Such Sweet Revenge.” Upon my first visit to the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego I came under its’ spell, so when I was seeking out the perfect setting for my murder mystery it instantly came to mind.
‘The Del’ (El Cabana in the novel)- photo by author.
‘The Del’ is an interesting place. Its’ unique Victorian architecture- somewhat out of place in an area known for Early California/ Spanish structures- and elegant ambiance lends to its’ attraction as a location for use in literature and movies. L. Frank Baum used elements of the hotel in his Oz stories, and who could forget Marilyn Monroe in her white swimsuit tossing a beach ball from its’ pristine beachfront in Billy Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot.”
Marilyn on location at ‘The Del’ for “Some Like It Hot.”
Another attraction of ‘The Del’- and one I used as a sub-plot in “Murder Is Such Sweet Revenge”- is the supernatural goings on, in, and around room 302. As the story goes, on Thanksgiving Day 1892 an alone and depressed Kate Morgan checked into room 302 of the Del Coronado in anticipation of a male lover who was to join her. After five days had passed without his arrival, she supposedly took her own life by a bullet delivered from a handgun she’d purchased earlier in San Diego.
Door to the haunted Room 302 (today 3327)
I say supposedly because there were some inconsistencies noted by the Coroner. One very important one is that the bullet removed from her head didn’t match the caliber of her weapon.
Inside courtyard of ‘The Del’ – photo by author
Another Del Coronado photo- by author
Kate Morgan was described in the press reports of the time, as “the Beautiful Stranger.” She was young- 24 at the time of her death, with a pale and sickly appearance. Estranged from her husband, and thought to be traveling alone, some witnesses swore that they saw a woman of her description arguing with a man on a train en-route to her destination.
Kate Morgan circa 1886
Today guests of ‘The Del’ feel her presence in the hotel, especially in room 302. Visitors have experienced objects moving on their own, unexplained flickering lights, unusual sounds and scents, dramatic temperature changes, and disembodied voices coming from everywhere and nowhere.
Hotel lobby of Del Coronado
The Crown Room (Royal Room in the novel)
These ghostly goings on intrigued me, and was why I included them in my latest mystery novel, “Murder Is Such Sweet Revenge.” If you want to feel more of the thrill, the book is available for purchase on the Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites as print, e-book, and audio.
Del Coronado as it would’ve appeared at time of novel (1930s)
Tony Piazza (Courtesy of Charlotte Alexander)
Tony Piazza is author of the 1930s Hollywood murder mystery novel, “Anything Short of Murder,” which had its roots on the TCM fan website. His second novel, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” was published next in early 2012, and in November of 2013 his second Tom Logan Mystery, “A Murder Amongst Angels was released.” In July of 2015 his latest Logan mystery, “Murder Is Such Sweet Revenge” was made available for purchase, and has since been an instant bestseller. All are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. He was an actor/extra during the 1970s and worked with such legends as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Karl Malden. His non-fiction e-book “Bullitt Points” is an in depth look at the making of “Bullitt” from a person who was there. Look for it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites, or at the link posted below. All profits go to the Boys Republic charity: www.bullittpoints.com.
Tony Piazza is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and SLO NightWriters.
The novels that started it all. The first and second novel in the Tom Logan mystery series have become audio books- read by actor James Romick, and is available on Audible, Amazon, and I-tunes.
The NEW Tom Logan mystery, “Murder is Such Sweet Revenge” is available in print, e-book, AND NOW audio book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. For audio- Audible, Amazon, and I-tunes.
My earlier bestselling novels, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” and “Anything Short of Murder” now joins “A Murder Amongst Angels” and “Murder is Such Sweet Revenge” on Amazon’s Kindle at a new, low price of $2.99. Now you can have hours of adventure, thrills, mystery, and romance for the price of a cup of coffee- and just as stimulating! Look for it on Amazon. Print versions have also been reduced.
Also: The new Tom Logan mystery thriller, A Murder Amongst Angels .
Find them all on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. Also available for $2.99 on Kindle.