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"Mystery" Cast of Characters

Character development is one of the first steps in creating a novel such as Mystery at the Thirteen Sycamores. When an author creates a character it is important that the character’s appearance, background, and personality traits are defined so that the story flows realistically throughout the novel.

Here are the biographical sketches that I envisioned in creating the storyline for Mystery.

Natalie von Schoenfeld (Novak)

Natalie von Schoenfeld was born and raised in the Czech Republic of Sud Deutsch parents and speaks seven languages perfectly without an accent. She studied nursing with her friend Rania at Karlova University Nursing School at Karlova Medical Center in Prague. She is an excellent skier and small boat sailor. She studied ballet and interpretive dancing where she excelled until she grew too tall and felt better suited for pediatric nursing. Her nature is studied and serious with a pleasant humor. She met her new husband, an officer and pilot in the German Luftwaffe, while she was in Germany applying for a job at the Phillips University, Gniessen/Marburg Hospital.

She is a beautiful young lady in her middle twenties with pale hazel eyes with blue speckles around the edges that give her a dreamy look. Her skin is smooth with a milky complexion and she has dark brown hair falling around her shoulders like a halo. She is about five-feet-eight-inches in height with a slender athletic build like a professional dancer or athlete. Her smile is pleasant with a slight curl at the corners of her mouth revealing perfect teeth that sparkled. She resembles the American movie actress Ali Cobrin.

Dietrich von Schoenfeld

Dietrich von Schoenfeld is a major in the German Luftwaffe Fighter Command who is a past commander of a squadron of Tornado jet fighter airplanes that saw combat duty in Afghanistan fighting Taliban and jihadist forces. He is six feet tall with wavy blond hair parted on the left. He has blue eyes that twinkle impishly when he speaks. His smile is broad with perfect white teeth that sparkle. He has a nervous habit of slightly biting his lower lip when he is serious and wrinkling his eyebrows. He has a tanned complexion and is very good looking like a tall Alan Ladd with a slender but powerful physique resembling an athlete. He stands erect with a military bearing that commands respect. His nature is serious and studied. He is an intellectual who reads voraciously, but is quiet by nature and listens with intent and speaks sparingly. He is known to tease his wife occasionally like an impish boy. But she allows him, even though she is two steps ahead of him!

Dietrich was nominated by Germany as one of the few international students to attend the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado where he graduated with honors and was commissioned as an officer in the German Luftwaffe. After graduating, he trained as a fighter pilot at the German wing at Fort Bliss in Texas and Holloman Air Force Base in Alamagordo, New Mexico, where he mastered flying the Tornado aircraft. He was the Immelmann Squadron leader in Afghanistan. After finishing his tour of duty, he met his wife Natalie at the Markt Platz in Marburg an der Lahn in Germany. He fell in love with Natalie at first sight.

He is a member and knight of the German Order of Saint John, the Johanniter Ordnung.

Dr. Carolyn Rood

Carolyn Rood is a diminutive but resourceful and doggedly determined beautiful woman of only five feet three inches with blue-green eyes that flash when she smiles. She resembles a Scottish version of Elizabeth Taylor mixed with the proud Maureen O'Hara stubborn lilt of her chin when a problem presents itself—an affectionate friend, but a formidable foe! She is deeply in love with her husband and it shows. She is tender and affectionate and values friendship, honesty, and loyalty. She was a pediatric doctor who was loved by all of her patients, whom she considered her children, was and admired by her colleagues. She has the rare gift of reducing problems to solutions by her intuitive and deductive nature.

Dr. Christopher Rood

Dr. Christopher Rood is an athletic man in his 40s who had been a martial arts champion of Texas. He is intuitively resourceful and studious leader in his field of medical radiology pathology. He is a professor and chair of that specialty at the University of Texas Medical School in San Antonio, Texas. He has lectured extensively around the world and has had many of his research papers and books published. He is handsome, almost six feet tall with blond hair, blue eyes, and a ready perfect smile. He charms everyone he meets with his relaxed easygoing manner. No one would suspect that he was actually a formidable warrior who had served in the United States Air Force as a flight surgeon and had flown forty nine combat missions as a backseat weapons systems officer in the Phantom II RF-4C "Wild Weasel tactical reconnaissance aircraft in Operation Desert Storm. It was capable of Mach 2 flight. He had won the Air Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters. He was also a professional photographer with a photographic memory that stood him well in his other profession and hobby of sleuthing! He is also a knight and member of the Hospitaller Order of Saint John and Sovereign Order of Saint John.

Inspector Steve Grant

Steve Grant is part of the Scottish branch of police for homeland security that handled terrorism in Scotland. He is six feet two inches in height, tanned, athletic in build, and in his late twenties with dark black hair that he parted on the right, brown eyes, and a deep cleft in his chin that made him resemble a young Cary Grant. He has an easy going manner that belies the seriousness by which he engages the seriousness of his job. The ladies all seem to like him, but he has not been serious with any. That is until a young lady named “Katie,” who happens to be his secretary and a friend of his aunt, takes a deep interest in him.

He is a quick study and with an excellent memory and a penchant for history, Sherlock Holmes and Tom Clancy novels and short stories, as well as genealogy. He is Scottish through and through, frugal to the core, and extremely intelligent. He loves orderly, well organized activity with an ability to make complicated things simple, and he has found the perfect secretary! Oh, and he is also a member and knight of the Venerable Order of Saint John as well as the Scottish Black Knights of Malta—the parent of the American Hospitaller Order of Saint John.

Katharine Sue Winslow, "Katie"

Katie is a beautiful slender woman about five feet ten inches (not quite as tall as Mary, Queen of the Scots, who was six feet tall) but as elegant and with an athletic figure that is a testimony to her childhood gymnastic and dance training. Her figure is stunning, but she dresses in a businesslike manner that matches her approach to her occupation as private secretary and devotee of her boss, Steve Grant. She is “no nonsense” in her approach to her job and has an analytical mind that makes her extremely efficient. She is at least two steps ahead of everyone. She has long blond hair that caresses her shoulders, bright blue eyes that hypnotize everyone, and a perfect winsome smile that fascinates everyone she meets. She has a Doris Day face with a slight sprinkling of freckles. Steve doesn't realize that he is in love with her—but he will!

Professor Randall Fox

Professor Randall Fox is a close friend of Carolyn and Christopher Rood. They had met in Corpus Christi, Texas when they were students. They in their residencies and he was working on his PhD in history and archeology. They were at a “fluid rounds” party at one of the hospitals and met while getting some refreshments! They became friends for life. Dr. Fox is six feet tall with dark brown hair that he parts on the left. He has hazel eyes, pleasant face and smile, and wears a perpetual tan because of his long "digs" and research. He has a ready smile and is usually quiet and reflective unless he is expounding on his favorite subjects of history and ancient architecture. He loves to have conversations about ancient and modern civilizations which usually turn into long winded monologues! He is usually dressed in his “professorial” garb of sport coat, button down collared oxford cloth shirt and slacks with comfortable penny loafer moccasins. Oh, and when he dresses up he'll maybe wear a tie! He is an officer in the Venerable Order of Saint John and has been a knight in the Hospitaller Order of Saint John.

King Peter II

King Peter II was a seventeen year old teenager when he became King of Yugoslavia. He opposed the fragile alliance with Adolph Hitler that had been arranged by intimidation by the regency government of Yugoslavia and promptly cancelled the alliance. When Adolf Hitler realized he could not bully King Peter, he delayed the “Operation Barbarossa” invasion of Russia and invaded Yugoslavia and Greece, which supported King Peter's decision. The Prince of Greece later married Princess Elizabeth of England.

The delay caused by Hitler's insane invasion of Yugoslavia doomed the calculated rapid conquest of Russia to failure which resulted in a two-front war that the German High Command did not want.

When Yugoslavian military forces finally collapsed from the Nazi onslaught, King Peter and his ministers barely escaped arrest. British commandos whisked the young king away from the royal palace in Belgrade after he had shinnied down a drain pipe from his quarters in the palace. He arrived in exile in London after his miraculous and difficult escape. He met his future wife Princess Alexandra of Greece and Denmark in England where he married her and became a knight in the Venerable Order of Saint John and later the protector and Grand Master of the American Order of Saint John. His government in exile and the Polish government in exile was stabbed in the back by the Allies at the Teheran and later the Potsdam Conference where their countries fell under the control of the Russians. King Peter, true to his heroic and defiant nature refused to abdicate and he and his government went into exile for many years in Libertyville, Illinois. He died in exile and was buried in the Chapel of Saint Sava in Libertyville per his request until his body was later reinterred on May 29th 2013, with his family at the Royal Mausoleum of Saint George at Openlac Palace in Belgrade, Serbia.

Mohammad al Hussaini

Mohammad al Hussaini is the fictitious grandson of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Al-Haj Amin al Hussaini, a leader in the pan Islamic Moslem Brotherhood which was founded in Egypt in 1928. Amin al Hussaini led the Brotherhood in Palestine during the 1930s and was later an SS general and leader of Muslim Nazi SS troops in the Balkans and Yugoslavia during World War II. He was the voice of the Nazis in the Middle East during World War II. By the end of World War II, the Muslim Brotherhood had two million members worldwide. Mohammad al Hussaini was indicted by the Nuremberg Commission for war crimes, but escaped with the help of the SS to Egypt where he was warmly welcomed.

Mohammad al Hussaini is cut from the same insane cloth as his grandfather. He is a middle aged revengeful egomaniac with a violent temper who tries to dominate everyone around him. He is of medium height with a swarthy complexion and thinning black hair and a slight limp from a leg injury suffered during a battle in Afghanistan. He has piercing black eyes that drip hatred of the West and America.

His son Ahmed is a carbon copy of his father, but his daughter Rania is a total opposite and takes after her mother, a Serbian Christian who was forced into enslavement just prior to the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. Rania is a half-sister to Ahmed who is jealous of her. Rania's mother was killed by a sniper's bullet in Sarajevo and as a young child, Rania witnessed her mother's death. She has never forgotten the cruelty her mother suffered from her father. Rania is fair in complexion and very intelligent. She resembles the actress Audrey Hepburn and is a close friend of Natalie who she met in nursing school after her alienation from her father and half-brother, Ahmed. Rania is determined to marry her sweetheart who is a Christian like her mother, but she is a Muslim that rejects the jehadist philosophy and Wahhabism with its Sharia laws. She believes that Islam should be reformed to be a peaceful religion much in the mold of Judaism and Christianity which preceded it.

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