Dead Move: Kate Morgan and the Haunting Mystery of Coronado

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Categories: Mainstream/True Crime
Publisher: Clocktower Books and Far Sector SFFH (magazine) | Date published: 08/01/2007


The Kate Morgan story is a true-life mystery--an enigma, a 'riddle of the sands'--involving a famous ghost that even today still haunts a great resort in a spectacular tourist destination. On Thanksgiving Day, 1892, a beautiful and graceful young woman checked in alone at the Hotel del Coronado near San Diego, California. She signed in under a false name, and to this day her real identity has not been established beyond doubt. Five days later, she was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head on the back steps of the hotel. Several identifications were made and discarded. Her story instantly became a national sensation in a hysterical 'Yellow Press' based on rumor, elevated by hype, trumpeted by scandal mongers. She was touted as an angel, a 'Beautiful Stranger,' who had been brought low by some man shrouded in shadows and evil. Then rumors began to circulate that she had been involved in dark and illicit shenanigans with the city's power elite--but nobody could pin down where those sordid and dangerous circles might spin. More than a century later, the complex web of mystery and intrigue continues to baffle investigators. Here is a book of fiction that tries to crack the code in a speculative and imaginative manner, entertaining yet based on true facts. Those facts reach beyond Coronado and San Diego to girdle the globe, from Honolulu to London, from San Francisco to Washington, D.C.--because, remarkably, the Beautiful Stranger's blackmail target--John Spreckels--was a San Francisco-based sugar mogul (and owner of the Hotel in which she stayed the last five days of her life)--and Spreckels at that very moment was involved in shuttle diplomacy between Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Honolulu, to try and save the Hawaiian monarchy. The Iolani Palace in less than 60 days would be toppled in a coup engineered by Spreckels' corporate rivals, led by mogul Sanford Dole, the 'Pineapple King', who would soon be 'President' of a short-lived Hawaiian Republic before the islands became a U.S. possession. This book examines the global implications of the so-called Kate Morgan story, and offers a new explanation of the mystery, in which not one woman, but two women and at least one man were involved in a blackmail plot gone horribly wrong, with the worst possible timing during an international crisis that actually reached from London to Honolulu. This true crime mystery and historical event lives on in today's ongoing ghost story at the Hotel del Coronado.