Good day, book people. I never realized how dedicated some of us are to fiction or nonfiction reading. I personally enjoy reading both fiction and nonfiction. However, I’ve noticed that I’ve become quite partial to fictional stories about real people. Skilled authors craft stories featuring historical figures and events in a fictionalized story. Please help me welcome Marlie Parker Wasserman, author of one such fictionalized story about a historical figure, Path of Peril. Ms. Wasserman is joining us today and discussing using Teddy Roosevelt as a character in her book. Grab your favorite beverage, sit back, and let’s learn a bit more about Ms. Wasserman’s Teddy Roosevelt and Path of Peril. Thank you, Ms. Wasserman, for stopping by and sharing with us today.
Teddy Roosevelt, Yes, and Women Too
by Marlie Parker Wasserman
When I learned that the very first trip abroad by a sitting president was Teddy Roosevelt’s trip to the Panama Canal in 1906, I knew I had my topic. A fascinating president, a country most readers knew little about, and the prospect of imagined murder and mayhem—what more could I ask for? After a few months of research, I realized I had a major problem to solve before I could start to write. All the historic characters I spun my plot around were men.
The list of men went on and on. I would write about President Roosevelt, rushing from one site along the Canal to another, ignoring dangers. An unknown historic character, TR’s mild-mannered assistant secretary, would keep track of the official schedule and observe rampant inequalities. Three courageous secret service agents would protect the President from assassins.
In contrast, my previous novel told the story of a woman, the first woman executed in the electric chair, and most of my readers were women. Frankly, for marketing purposes, I needed women. But I also knew that women were hidden in the history of the Canal. Fortunately, in the last decade, historians have begun to unearth their tales. Digging deeper, I found what I needed.
My finished book starts off with men but quickly moves to the stories of women. The best known is Edith Roosevelt, TR’s second wife. Newspaper accounts report that she accompanied him on the trip to Panama, wearing the long white gown and white bonnet favored by wealthy women visiting the tropics. In the picture below, we see her standing on the back of a train, wearing a veil.
I decided to imagine Edith’s thoughts during the four-day trip, as she sensed increasing dangers for her husband. She would be keenly aware that only five years before, the previous president, McKinley, had been assassinated. Edith had a counterpart on the trip. Maria Amador was Panama’s First Lady. The two sat together at dinners and crossed paths at receptions. What did Maria think about lovely, proper Edith? Did Maria know about assassins lurking in her country?
These first ladies were two of thousands of women who traveled to Panama. Many younger women came from Barbados and Jamaica to fill jobs as maids, cooks, fruit peddlers, and laundresses. Nurses and teachers came from the States. In the picture below, we see a group of newly trained teachers.
What we might call middle-class women accompanied their husbands—the engineers and officials responsible for digging the Canal. In addition, a small number of women were sex workers, either in well-appointed or squalid establishments. I enjoyed creating women in each of these categories, making sure that they drove some of the action.
The tale of the first presidential trip abroad does indeed center around men, but women stood all around that center, sustaining it and critiquing it. ♦
Path of Peril
by Marlie Parker Wasserman
February 27 – March 24, 2023 Virtual Book Tour
Would the assassins plotting to kill Theodore Roosevelt on his visit to the Panama Canal succeed?
Until this trip, no president while in office had ever traveled abroad. White House secretary Maurice Latta, thrilled to accompany the President, could not anticipate the adventures and dangers ahead. Latta befriends watchful secret service agents, ambitious journalists, and anxious First Lady Edith Roosevelt on their hot and humid trip, where he observes a country teeming with inequalities and abounding in opportunities. Along the way he learns about his own strengths—what he never imagined he could do, and what he discovers he can’t do.
Theodore Roosevelt did visit Panama in 1906, accompanied by White House staffer Maurice Latta. Interweaving the stories of real-life characters with fictional ones, Path of Peril imagines what the newspapers feared to report and what historians never discovered about Roosevelt’s risky trip.
Genre: Historical Crime Fiction
Published by: Level Best Books
Publication Date: January 17, 2023
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 9781685122409 (Paperback)
ISBN: 9781685122416 (eBook)
ASIN: B0BSXWCQ1F (Kindle edition)
Series: This is a Stand Alone Novel
Purchase Links #CommissionEarned: Bookshop.org | Amazon | Amazon Kindle | Barnes and Noble | B&N eBook | BookDepository.com | Kobo eBook | Goodreads
Praise for Path of Peril:
“Nothing better than settling down with a good, crisp, detail-rich assassination thriller. Someone is after Theodore Roosevelt, and author Marlie Wasserman tightens the screws, ratchets the tension, and twists the plot again and again. Read it.”
William Martin, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Lincoln Letter and December ’41
“A feast of characters, scenery, and history, Wasserman sets the table for a tremendous read. Path of Peril is a privileged walk with TR, his wife, his staff, and dozens of characters struggling to create one of the “greatest engineering feats of the century.”
Chris Keefer, author of No Comfort for the Undertaker, a Carrie Lisbon Mystery
“Path of Peril is enjoyable and engaging and places the reader at the center of a fast, explosive, and intriguing plot—making this new book one that should not be missed.”
Mel Ayton, author of Plotting to Kill the President
“Wasserman’s Path of Peril gives readers an exciting leap back in time… Buy this book—you’ll love it!”
Michael Conniff, historian of Panama
Marlie Parker Wasserman continues to write historical crime fiction. Her first book, The Murderess Must Die, was published in 2021. After spending many years in New Jersey, she now lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and the Historical Novel Society.
Catch Up With Marlie Parker Wasserman:
Instagram – @marliepwasserman
Twitter – @MarlieWasserman
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One thought on “Guest Post: Marlie Parker Wasserman – PATH OF PERIL”
Oh my goodness. Fabulous guest post! I love the research and thought that went into this book!
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