Carys Jones is a rare book authenticator working for a prestigious Boston auction house whose fondest wish is to be left alone to pursue her single-minded love of old manuscripts. Her life is simple and uncomplicated until the day her favorite client, John Harper, a wealthy tech entrepreneur and collector of British Dark Age manuscripts, ends up in a psychiatric hospital suffering from hallucinations and mania.
Sent by her boss to authenticate Harper’s collection for a planned sale, Carys is given an offer she can’t refuse: Harper’s entire library of priceless manuscripts in exchange for her help tracking down a tomb described in a single, previously unknown and unrecorded ancient journal. Harper has come to believe through years of exhaustive research that this manuscript is the memoir of the personal priest of one of the most enigmatic figures in history, King Arthur. The monk’s manuscript not only recounts the king’s exploits, but reveals the location of the king’s tomb—and the vast treasure buried with it. Carys accepts the offer and launches her quest.
But Jones and Harper aren’t the only ones looking for the tomb. Martin Gyles, a ruthless, psychopathic black market antiquities dealer, seeks to derail Carys’s search on behalf of an anonymous client. The hunt takes Carys to places she never thought she’d go, both physically and emotionally: first to Wales, her estranged father’s homeland, then to bed with Dafydd, a mysterious Welshman who agrees to help her with the search, and finally, deep inside her own psyche, when the monk who wrote the journal 1,500 years ago appears and assists her in her search.
Author Kris Frieswick took time out of her busy schedule to meet with The Big Thrill and discuss her historical thriller, THE GHOST MANUSCRIPT:
Without spoilers, are there any genre conventions you wanted to upend or challenge with this book?
I was tired of thrillers where the main character is a man with the inevitable military background and all sorts of specialized training that allows him to overcome impossible odds. For me, putting a regular woman into a thriller setting and watching her figure out how to navigate treacherous waters armed only with her intellect, resourcefulness, and desire to protect her loved ones—that was fun. She feels like an entirely new type of thriller hero.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
My goals when I started writing THE GHOST MANUSCRIPT were to write a book that I would want to read, to write a book with a strong female lead who embarks on a rollicking adventure, and most importantly, to write a book that readers would not be able to put down. I’d love it if my readers finish THE GHOST MANUSCRIPT satisfied, but craving more of Carys Jones, and are also a bit more knowledgeable about how the ancient past can still impact the present.
What attracts you to this book’s genre?
I am a history fanatic and although this book does not take place in the past, history—specifically that of Dark Age Britain—is a palpable character throughout it. I am also in love with thrillers that involve a puzzle based on factually verifiable events, objects, and people. So, of course, that’s what I set out to write.
What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?
The biggest challenge was finding the time to write the book. It took me more than 12 years from initial conception to finished draft. As a journalist by trade, the book gave me a wonderful opportunity to stretch all my research skills to bring the story to life.
Kris Frieswick is a journalist, editor, humorist, teacher and author whose work has appeared in national magazines, newspapers and books for more than 20 years. She is an avid cyclist, cook and traveler. She lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and St. Croix, USVI, with her husband.
To learn more about Kris, please visit her website.