There’s been a bit of haunting going on at His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen recently – but it has nothing to do with the Victorian building’s allegedly spooky past.
For the man doing the haunting has been novelist Eric Davidson, as he and Aberdeen Performing Arts archivist Alan Rennie researched the opening of the city centre venue 108 years ago for his latest novel 1906 – November.
Published only online, the book is one of a series of crime thrillers set in the 1900s by the local author who took to full-time writing after being made redundant as a business manager with Grampian Police last year.
In the course of this year Eric has published the three 1906-based novels, which covers the history of Aberdeen from the quatercentenary of Aberdeen University in September through to the opening of His Majesty's Theatre in December.
“Feedback on the books has been very positive, particularly with regard to the research that has gone into them” says Eric. “ For example, I spoke to someone who did not know that there had once been a railway station on Holburn Street until they read 1906 - September.”
“Eric’s enquiry was one of the most unusual that I have received for a long time,” admits HMT archivist Alan. “It was fascinating to hear how he was going to incorporate interesting and unusual facts about the very early days of HMT into his narrative. I look forward to reading the book and finding out 'who did it'."
In the run-up to the opening night of HMT, 1906 – November is a tale of multi-murder, corrupt policemen, and the suspicion that someone is trying to sabotage the building of the now iconic theatre.
Although historically accurate not just in the geography of Aberdeen at the time, but also in the speech and conduct of the characters back in the 1900s, it is a fast-paced novel dealing with the burgeoning sex trade, crime and the politics of the time.
The story begins in the Police mortuary with the investigation into two bodies, one found in a close off Guestrow and the other found on his own doorstep. Then there’s the mysterious happenings as the builders race to complete his Majesty’s Theatre in time for the grand opening night . . .
Readers have commented on the accuracy of the historical content and also how believable the main character, Inspector Jake Fraser is. Although there are hopes for a 1906 - December, Eric currently has no plans to write another book in this series and is currently working on a Military Intelligence thriller, which will be set in 1971. 1906 – November is only available online, through Amazon, along with 1906 – October and 1906 – September.