Book Review & Giveaway: The Lincoln Conspiracy
Received from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and Publisher (thank you!)
Published: September 18, 2012 | 368 pages
Rating: 4 Stars
Many a story has been written regarding the assassination of President Lincoln. Timothy O’Brien, author and journalist, has fleshed out a conspiracy theory both plausible and immensely read-able!
The novel begins with Washington DC police detective, Temple McFadden, stumbling upon a murder at the B&O Railroad Station. While stepping into the melee, Temple obtains 2 diaries from the murdered victim. He is then chased through the dusty streets, injured, and suffering from a childhood limp already, finally rescued from sure death by one of the parties at the railroad station.
Temple remains “out” for several days as his wife and doctor, Fiona, and best friend and freed black man, Augustus, stand guard nearby. Upon waking, Temple discovers he has gotten hold of Mrs. Lincoln’s personal diary and that of John Wilkes Booth. Booth’s diary is in code and requires some maneuvering on Temple and Augustus’ part to decipher the code and uncover the conspiracy. Meanwhile, Fiona discovers a way to return Mrs. Lincoln’s diary and uncover part of the assassination plot herself.
What I liked ~ I was so so impressed with the research that must have gone into writing this book – even down to the terminology used during spring of 1865. The verbiage is much more formal than what we use today in our everyday conversations bringing a sense of realism to the novel.
I also loved Fiona’s character – she was fearless with a backbone of steel. Fiona loved her husband, her job (although she had to work as a nurse more than a doctor), and her country – pretty much in that order. She was not afraid to jump into the investigation of the conspiracy, very much like her husband.
The descriptive setting throughout the novel had me in the Spring of 1865 on those dusty wagon-wheel streets of Washington D.C. I sat in the well-appointed railroad car of Mrs. Lincoln and jumped off that train at just the right moment. I went to Tiber Island, home of the alley-houses where the freed blacks resided in squalor and stench. O’Brien can write a setting with the best of them!
Even in his dreams, the roar of the ocean enveloped everything else: the smell of the pigs and cattle packed into steerage in the bottom of the Washington, which they’d boarded in Liverpool; the moaning creak of wood as her timbers, three masts, and 420 tons strained against the sea; the shouts and cries of poorer passengers down below, enduring this to escape An Gorta Mor, notices to quit their land, and their families dying in droves in Ireland; and a seven-year-old’s gasps of breath as he fought off nausea and fear, clutching tightly to the rails of his bunk.
What surprised me ~ It was interesting to me how Temple was able to walk easily amongst the white community AND the black community. The Civil War has just ended, Lincoln has been assassinated and the antagonistic relationship amongst both cultures is high and wide. And that Temple’s best friend was an educated freed black man is contrary to what I have read about that time in history. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. There were a few times I had to suspend my belief in order to accept the actions at face value.
The language used throughout the book was something I liked AND that challenged me. You may have read this before, but when I first came across this word, it took me a moment to figure out what the heck it meant: “Sesech”
Are you familiar with that word?
Think secession or “n. informal someone in favor of the attempt of the Southern States to withdraw from the Union” (definition from answers.com).
In The Lincoln Conspiracy, all of the men are greatly flawed which was a refreshing bit of realism. The characters were numerous and I almost needed a chart to remember who was a good guy and who was bad. Overall, this novel was a winner. I liked the conspiracy plot and could very well believe it to be true. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next in Temple and Fiona’s life ~ I can only imagine it will be explosive!
Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.
Thanks to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, I have a copy of The Lincoln Conspiracy to give away. To enter, please leave a comment. The winner will be chosen at random on November 19th. Entries will be accepted through November 18th at midnight. Best of luck!
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