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  • Mike Donald

LOUISIANA BLOOD - An alternate history thriller.

Updated: Oct 11, 2019

LOUISIANA BLOOD began life as a screenplay. It won or was placed in over 25 competitions, was performed on stage and gained me the offer of representation in LA with Anonymous Content. It was set up as part of a huge Canadian Film fund and producers came and went. A few years on and I decided that the story was too good to remain an un-produced screenplay and so with the backing of many hundred followers and the support of my family it was reborn as a novel. But how did the idea first surface…?




Forget everything you’ve ever read about Jack The Ripper…he never existed!

Let me start by explaining why I wrote this story. I’ve always been into conspiracy theories, after all history has taught us that there’s usually always a hidden agenda behind the big story, and sooner or later, the real story will come out. I looked at the mythology of one of the greatest serial killers in England, and possibly the world…not because of the scale of his activities…but rather the timing of his arrival.



JACK THE RIPPER'S actions were the catalyst for a huge amount of change within the world, and the case had an impact on many areas, Prostitution, the birth of the tabloid press, major development in the east end of London, a massive shake up in the police department and a new focus on forensics, not to mention the political shake up within the royal family and the sacking of the police commissioner…in short, a whole lot of people and organisations were never going to be the same…and while I’m reading about this, I’m thinking…what if that was what this was about?


What if JACK THE RIPPER never existed?


I wanted to write an epic conspiracy thriller as an alternate history novel, linking the conspiracy of London in 1888 with a contemporary thriller in Louisiana, something with the imaginative duplicity of MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and the artifice of THE PRESTIGE.


And so LOUISIANA BLOOD was born:


CHANDLER TRAVIS, a London Detective recovering from injuries sustained during the terrorist bombings of 2007, works as an archivist and lecturer in the BLACK MUSEUM at New Scotland yard. His obsession to uncover the real identity of Jack The Ripper continues a family tradition stretching back to his great grandfather, a newspaper reporter at the time of the Ripper killings.


He’s even writing a book, the problem is, he doesn’t have an ending…well not yet anyway. So when he learns that a coach, buried in a LOUISIANA swamp for over a century has been unearthed containing five female corpses a diary and some letters from one DR FRANCIS J TUMBLETY, a key Ripper suspect, he gets the first flight out.


When he joins the investigation headed up by DUKE LANOIX, a local sheriff, things start to get complicated…local governor ROMAN BLACKBURN seems hell bent on shutting their investigation down, and is prepared to go to any lengths to stop them. Despite attempts on their lives and the destruction of their evidence, they close in on the truth.


But Governor Blackburn has his own agenda…and it doesn’t include their survival!


LOUISIANA BLOOD was The Idiosyncraticate Syndicate and the Thriller Night syndicate pick of the month, and an Inkshares staff pick! It was voted number one in the Mill City press mystery genre, and was made a distinguished favourite for its cover in the 2018 Independant Press Awards.


LOUISIANA BLOOD


PROLOGUE


ON OCTOBER 2, 1893, the second-largest hurricane ever recorded hit Louisiana, killing over two thousand people. Whole villages, including Saint Malo and Cheniere Caminada, were swept from the face of the earth. To this day it remains one of the greatest natural disasters in American history and is known as “the Evil Wind.”


CHAPTER ONE


SPIRIT’S SWAMP, LOUISIANA October 2, 1893


TONGUES OF LIGHTNING flickered across the sullen clouds overhead, bleaching the dark swamp waters on either side of a muddy track. Trembling shadows silhouetted the desolate landscape. Mangrove roots writhed in the howling wind like gray tentacles. Through torrents of rain, a carriage with black coachwork and a steamer chest roped to its back, raced ahead of the approaching storm. From inside, the pale, frightened faces of five women stared out into the gloom. The driver whipped the horses with grim desperation, his face a ravaged mask framing coal-black eyes. He wore a studded leather collar that barely covered the livid rope burns around his throat. The carriage shuddered to a halt. The wind and rain

ceased.


They were in the eye of the storm. A skein of cloud tore across the moon and revealed a ghostly, silvered landscape. Swamp water shimmered beneath its pale light. Beside the banks of the track the hooded eyes of an alligator stared into the night. The horses lunged against their harnesses, eyes rolling with fear. The alligator sank back below the surface, leaving nothing behind but ripples. The weary women huddled together inside the carriage.They wore identical red scarves. One of them, blonde haired and with an ethereal beauty, looked out of the window. A gust of wind ripped the scarf from her neck, sending it floating up into the sky, a blood-red wound that slashed the dark clouds above.


The driver climbed down from the carriage. Reached into his jacket and pulled out a pistol. He headed purposefully toward the carriage door. The blonde girl started to scream, but her voice was quickly snuffed out as a maelstrom of gray water engulfed everything.

CHAPTER TWO


LONDON, ENGLAND Present day


CHANDLER TRAVIS WALKED alongside the gray water of the Thames. In the distance he could see the vast square structures that supported Tower Bridge’s immense deck, its history palpable in every Inch of its monumental stonework, and the surface of the river like a blurred photograph as the rain swept across the city. Chandler had taken to walking to work from his flat in Shad Thames and had grown to love the city at that time of the morning.


At just over six feet, with his distinctive loping walk and boyish looks, he’d struggled to be taken seriously during his early years in the Met. The result of this was that he’d had to work twice as hard to get a promotion. He’d joined the Metropolitan Police Force straight from university, reached the rank of detective, and was considered to be on the fast track for the post of inspector. But the 2005 terrorist attacks on London changed his life forever. Though his body had recovered well, and the physical scarring was minimal, his career as a detective on active duty was effectively over.


It was ironic, he reflected, that the past—somewhere he inhabited a lot in his free time—had come to his rescue and helped to secure him a future. Chandler’s great-great-grandfather had been a reporter during the reign of Jack the Ripper, and his own father had been fixated with the case. Chandler had inherited the family’s obsession with the Ripper, and it had proved invaluable during his recuperation. The department had managed to find him a desk job In what was known as the Black Museum, or room 101 of New Scotland Yard.


As well as his general duties at the museum, he gave lectures on modern policing methods and how they might have been employed during the time of Jack the Ripper. His colleagues knew of his obsession and had taken to calling him “Springheeled Jack,” a title they felt aptly summed up not only his obsession but also his characteristic gait.


As he made his way along the glistening cobbled streets through Butler’s Wharf, he thought about the talk he was to give later that morning. There wasn’t a year that went by without someone claiming to have revealed the Ripper’s true identity. Not surprisingly, most of them were all neatly tied in with a book launch.


He passed the iconic New Scotland Yard sign, headed through the front entrance, and downstairs to room 101. As usual, PC Jenny Sedgeway was in early. She possessed some kind of built-in radar and already had a cup of fresh steaming coffee ready for him as he entered the room. Jenny was one of those people who always had a ready smile and a quip at hand, no matter how dreary the day outside.

She handed Chandler his mug, emblazoned with an ironic Sherlock Holmes silhouette. He took a grateful sip of the strong brew.

“Morning,” he said.

“Ready for battle?” Her eyes sparkled with humor.

“Of course. How many are we expecting?” She scanned a sheet of paper, pursed her lips.

“You have a small group of tourists and police trainees at ten-thirty and about the same numbers for the facial-recognition lecture this afternoon.”

He nodded. The facial-recognition lecture was proving popular.


With the advent of more powerful computers, the ability to produce 3-D projections meant a multitude of different possibilities could be generated within seconds. The days of using a skilled clay modeler to work up details from a skull were long gone.

He took another sip of coffee. “I guess there’s no point in putting it off any longer.”

Jenny smiled and held out a computer tablet.

“No chance of just using an overhead projector and a blackboard then,” he said with a smile. Jenny gave him one of her looks: the sort that mothers reserve for troublesome teenagers.

“The tablet’s linked to the video projector. Just hit ‘Run’ and the slides will pop up in sequence.” Chandler took the tablet from her like it was an unexploded bomb.

“You make it sound so simple,” he said nervously. Jenny rolled her eyes.

“Just because the nineteenth century is your specialist subject, doesn’t mean you have to live there. I swear you’d have a Bakelite phone installed if you thought you could get away with it.”

Chandler headed toward the door before pausing to deliver his parting line.

“Yes, well, sometimes the past can be an interesting place to live.” And with a wink he was gone.











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