In 1896, renowned psychic Ignatius Jones commissions his portrait to be painted by one of the leading artists of his time. He promises his followers that he will communicate with them through his portrait after he passes to spirit.
On the day that he is murdered in 1903, his portrait is stolen.
It turns up more than 100 years later at a church rummage sale in picturesque Tudorsville, Vermont.
Current-day psychic mediums are invited to see the long-lost portrait at the newly-established Ignatius Jones Center for Spiritualist Discovery.
When Boston psychic Dr. Frances Gourmelon (from Ghosts on the Red Line) arrives at the Center, she discovers that things there are very odd, and getting odder.
Charles Philip Tucker, former con man and the Center’s founder, claims that he’s in touch with Ignatius Jones through the portrait. He says that he’s channeling Ignatius Jones when he punishes a visitor to the Center for blasphemy and when he selects an eighteen-year-old girl to bear his children on Ignatius Jones’ behalf.
Frances decides to get involved.
Portrait of Ignatius Jones is a mind-bending story of con artists, psychics, and the paranormal in peaceable Vermont.
Published: October 2014
Testimony of Mrs. Eugenia Stephenson Concerning a Meeting at the Boston Spiritualist Lyceum
I was seated amongst thirty others in the audience in a meeting hall of the Boston Spiritualist Lyceum on Tremont Street when Ignatius Jones entered, accompanied by his close friend and tour manager Mr. William Price following several steps behind.
Ignatius Jones seated himself behind a table at the front of the room.
To be sure, I’d heard the whispers emanating from certain quarters in Boston, that he takes liberties with women without regard to their marital circumstances, and that his appetites in that quarter cannot be sated.
They say that unaccompanied women enter and depart his house on Pinckney Street at all hours in plain view of his Beacon Hill neighbors, that they flaunt their identities without shame, even some who are well-known in polite society.
Such calumnies failed to dissuade me. I resolved to see for myself the most renowned spiritualist in Boston and to hear his words directly.
Now that I was in his presence, I had to acknowledge that he was as striking a man as I had imagined, exhibiting no indicia of the horns and tail that might be inferred from the malicious stories about him. Tall, strong featured, and elegantly dressed in a fine wool suit and purple silk cravat, he made a wonderful impression. In particular, his eyes, as dark as coal, which at first glance appeared harsh in their intensity, in truer fact expressed a most powerful empathy once they were met with an open accepting mind.
In short, I cannot deny that my heart beat faster on seeing him in person for the first time.
Mr. Price also offered an attractive appearance, being about the same age and height as Ignatius Jones, and very light complexioned with long blond hair and blond eyebrows. He grasped in his arms a painting that he carried in such a way that we could not see its subject. He carefully leaned the painting against Ignatius Jones’ table so that it continued to face away from us, and then strode to the back of our meeting room where he stood to watch the proceedings.
We remained completely quiet, except for a gentleman behind me who could not control his infernal cough, while Ignatius Jones surveyed each of us, saying nothing. When his eyes met mine, I felt with the greatest certainty that they were penetrating into my very soul.
Finally, he spoke to us in a voice so deep that it rumbled like thunder even while his tone remained conversational as if he were addressing just one other person.
“This evening I will conduct five readings,” he said.
Peter David Shapiro is originally from Montreal, Canada, and now lives in the Boston area. Portrait of Ignatius Jones is his third novel. His first two novels, Ghosts on the Red Line, about visitations on the Boston subway, and The Trail of Money, about revenge and intrigue in Hong Kong, received rave reader reviews.
Portrait of Ignatius Jones is available in paperback (Amazon, BN.com, bookstores) & eBook (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBook) formats.
Thanks for reading. 🙂