The Knights Templar,
the Ark of the Covenant,
and Vikings—Oh My!
By J. H. Bográn
Bestselling author Heather Graham returns to her New York Confidential series with A LETHAL LEGACY—a thriller that involves a modern murder and a cocktail of historic mysteries ranging from the Knights Templar to the Ark of the Covenant and the Vikings in America, with a twist of alien conspiracy.
Special Agent Craig Frasier agrees to help his cousin Finn Douglas by investigating the death of a friend in Douglas Island, off the coast of New York State. The island comes with a reputation for bad luck and curses, yet Finn doesn´t accept his friend´s fate as an accident.
Along for the ride is psychologist Kieran Finnegan.
As the duo delve into the history of the Douglas estate, they discover that the property comes complete with strange lore and a blood-soaked past—something evil seems to be lurking in the caverns that run beneath the stony ground. Kieran and Craig take on a dangerous search for the truth, where one false step could send them plummeting to their deaths, and one wrong turn could bring them face-to-face with a killer.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the Viking movement—raids, yes, but settlements and trading, too,” Graham says. “Evidence does show that they made it to North America, not just to what is now Canada, but clues to a Viking arrival have been found in New Hampshire and other areas, possibly down to New York. Another fascination—and historical indignation, if there is such a thing—is with Philip IV of France. He was in a great deal of debt to the Templars and how else to fix it all except accuse them of terrible deeds and arrest and torture many into false confessions?”
Rumors abound in regards to the Templars acquiring the Ark of the Covenant—the chest where Moses put away the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments during the Exodus—and so as those rumors go, they entrusted it to Viking traders who weren’t so busy with raids, but who were some of the finest sailors on the seas. Most scholars believe the Ark rests in a church in Ethiopia. Others speculate.
“My interest in all this goes way back,” Graham says. “My dad was a Scot and my mom was born in Dublin—they both came to the States with incredible books of stories about history. I adored my dad and he belonged to a Masonic Lodge and became a Shriner. Now every such society has been suspected of some terrible deeds by someone, but all I ever saw was a group that worked very hard to make money for children’s charities, especially the Shriners Hospital, naturally.”
Being that this is the fourth book in the series, Graham admits that keeping the characters current, yet evolving, is a challenge.
“I like that word—evolving! We all grow and change, and I like to think that as the characters move from story to story, they get that chance,” she says. “In Kieran’s case in this story, she’s happy to help with Craig’s family—he’s been through a lot with hers. And, this time around, Craig is involved with a cousin he cares about deeply.”
The biggest challenge of working with a series is that each book needs to stand alone, so Graham makes sure that the characters and their lives are clear—without rehashing what has already been done in previous installments. Not only must each book be unique, but also each character must have a distinct voice.
“I love dialogue. We all speak differently, depending on our personalities, the way we were raised—and where we were during the years in which we were growing up,” Graham says. “Some people find ma’am and sir offensive, but if you grew up in the South, those were required words—they were considered polite and respectful. In certain areas, terms such as honey and sweetie and darling also just roll off the tongue—they’re natural and they’re meant to be a friendly courtesy as well. Even with the same accent and background, people think differently. And, of course, sometimes they’re lying. There are nuances in it all. I try very hard to think as each character thinks, and naturally, that affects the way they speak.”
Graham works well on her own, but has also collaborated with other authors, most recently with Jon Land on The Rising. “He’s a dear friend and I love him—and while on tour he even let me drag him to the grave of an American ‘vampire,’” she says.
“Oh, okay, the worst thing about working with him, which is not so bad, is trying to get him out of a place when you must be somewhere else. He gets in conversations—and dragging him politely away isn’t easy.”