The historian part of my brain is increasingly intrigued by moments in time when a dog did not bark. Of course, this is reference to a famous Sherlock Holmes story called, “Silver Blaze,” and how the fictional detective made a deduction based on the fact that a dog that should have barked at a stranger, did not. This told Holmes that the culprit was someone familiar to the dog.
So as a writer, I’ve wondered why certain people didn’t do the obvious thing. From there, my imagination takes charge. The book I’m currently working on—“The Churchill Plot”—is a great case in point.
I begin with a question:
Why would President Lyndon Johnson, a consummate politician who had just been inaugurated in 1965 for his own term following a landslide election victory the previous November, choose to stay home from the funeral of the century—the grand farewell to Winston Churchill—on the flimsy pretext of a “bad cold,” instead of seizing the opportunity to appear as the dominant political leader on the world stage?
Why would Mr. Johnson even refuse to send his new vice president, Hubert Humphrey, to Churchill’s funeral?
And, why would the secretaries of the defense and state departments eventually travel to London as part of the “official” US delegation, only to be conspicuously absent from the actual funeral service in historic St. Paul’s Church?
With these verifiable facts as a starting point, I then invite readers through the looking glass and into a murky fictional world of shadows, mystery, and intrigue.
As 90 year-old Winston Churchill barely clings to life in January 1965, Great Britain and the world prepare for the funeral of the century. The long-planned grand farewell (Codenamed: Operation Hope Not) will be attended by an unprecedented array of world leaders, all vying for the attention of the 350 million people who will watch it all via new satellite technology.
America and the world had not yet fully recovered from the assassination of Johnson’s presidential predecessor, John F. Kennedy, fourteen months earlier. Yet, in a way that possibly connects back to that horrific moment in Dallas, there are rumors of yet another plot. This one involves a possible deadly terrorist attack during Winston Churchill’s funeral, at the moment when more than 100 world leaders will be together in one confined place.
President Johnson learns about this and discreetly reaches out to some of his contacts in the intelligence world, including one of the men he put on the Warren Commission—the “official” investigation into JFK’s murder.
These men—some whose names will eventually become familiar notorious in American politics—have one mission: to prevent a catastrophe that could change the course of human history.
Along the way, the American operatives uncover a conspiracy more far-reaching than they could have ever imagined.
The project is coming along. I’m currently revising a few sections based on feedback from my editor. So as we say in radio—stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted.