September 1, 1993: We’re pleased to be continuing the celebration of the 20th anniversary of Brad Strickland’s association with John Bellairs’ characters and in particular the two decades since The Vengeance of the Witch-finder was published.
Soon after his father's death Frank Bellairs expressed an interest in someone completing his father’s latest tale. It would prove a formidable challenge, recalls author Brad Strickland, “because nobody knew the plot – [there were] two chapters and vague ideas about where to take [the story].”
Strickland recalls the original text broke off when Jonathan and Lewis first caught sight of Barnavelt Manor. "I constructed the rest of the plot in as Bellarsian a fashion as I could and refined it with the editor. A funny thing about this book: a review of this one grumped that the first chapter - all John's - wasn't written as well as John's work and that it should have been thrown out of the book, as it was just 'a long digression about Sherlock Holmes. However, I had the feeling that the policeman Lewis meets in the chapter would certainly become important later on."
Both The Ghost in the Mirror and Vengeance are unique in that Rose Rita and Lewis's stories occur simultaneously: they take place in the same timeframe but in vastly different locations. Released six months apart, both books were popular with fans, especially those who had longed to see Lewis back in action.
Two more completed tales would surface – The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie (1994), featuring Johnny Dixon, and The Doom of the Haunted Opera (1995), again staring Lewis – before Strickland began crafting his own stories with Bellairs’ characters in 1996.