This is the second part of an interview conducted by this blog site (TP) with Dr. George Oliver Randall, the main character in the novel The Devil At My Heels. Part One appears below it.
TP: George, let’s move on now to talk a bit about the death of your friend, Dr. Michael Stuart and what that event led to. It’s documented in The Devil At My Heels, but I’d like to hear some of your more personal observations. To begin with, though, what’s your academic background?
GR: Well. I was an undergraduate at Cambridge, and then went on to a Master’s Degree and Ph.D. at the University of London. My doctoral dissertation was titled German Monasticism and its Influence on the Monastic Movement In Britain in the Thirteenth Century.
TP: Dr. Stuart’s death must have come as a great shock.
GR: I was thunderstruck, actually. I couldn’t believe anyone would murder Mike. I was outraged and very, very angry that such a thing could have happened. Mike and I had been friends and colleagues for years, and I suppose that’s really why I set about finding The Haunted Gospel. I wanted to see Mike’s work finished. Almost in defiance of the murderer, as it were.
TP: And judging from your academic background, when you began the search for The Haunted Gospel, you were in very familiar territory, weren’t you?
FR: Absolutely, although when I started I had no idea what it would all lead to. I mean, all that detective and cloak-and-dagger stuff. Looking over my shoulder all the time. That was very unfamiliar territory, I can tell you. Let alone the danger to myself and my daughter.
TP: So it was the murder that got you involved in the first place, wasn’t it?
GR: Yes. I knew Mike had been looking for The Haunted Gospel. All I wanted to do was find it for him. Quite simple, really. It was nothing more than that, and I had no idea it would be so dangerous.
TP: So you didn’t actually set out to track down the killer, then?
GR: Good grief, no. Neither I nor anyone else knew there was any connection between the murder and the gospel. I let the police get on with the murder investigation, but of course, they had no success. My search turned out to be a way to flush out the killer so the police could get at him. It was damned unnerving towards the end, especially when it began to involver Megan, my daughter.
TP: And Katherine, your fiancée, as well, I believe.
GR: Yes indeed. I met Katherine through the gospel search, and she just got drawn into the whole web. I was very worried about her, but she seemed to take it all in stride.
TP: But things got very difficult when the first arrest was finally made, didn’t they?
GR: That was a terrible time, awful. And the recriminations went on for over a year. I was in a state of near despair. I’d tried to do what was right, but I can see how it must have looked to Katherine.
TP: In terms of the search for the gospel manuscript, George, did you really expect to find it after 800 years?
GR: In my line of work, you just start the research and find whatever you can. Many manuscripts have come down to us from the Medieval period, and I didn’t really see any reason why I shouldn’t find it. If I’m being honest, though, I did reckon the chances were pretty slim. I did a lot of legwork, but luck had a hand in it as well.
TP: But you did trace its history, didn’t you?
GR: Yes, but there are some gaps I couldn’t fill in. I still don’t know how on earth the book ended up in the hands of Josef Goebbels.
TP: Well, I’d advise everyone to read The Devil AT My Heels and find out everything. Excerpts can be read at http://charlesmossop.tripod.com/, and you can purchase the book at The Muse Bookstore. Many thanks Dr. Randal, we appreciate your time. It’s a fascinating story.
GR: My pleasure. Enjoy the read.