Sunday, October 28, 2012

Guest Review: The Lincoln Conspiracy

Summary: A nation shattered by its president’s murder
Two diaries that reveal the true scope of an American conspiracy

A detective determined to bring the truth to light, no matter what it costs him

From award-winning journalist Timothy L. O’Brien comes a gripping historical thriller that poses a provocative question: What if the plot to assassinate President Lincoln was wider and more sinister than we ever imagined?

In late spring of 1865, as America mourns the death of its leader, Washington, D.C., police detective Temple McFadden makes a startling discovery. Strapped to the body of a dead man at the B&O Railroad station are two diaries, two documents that together reveal the true depth of the Lincoln conspiracy. Securing the diaries will put Temple’s life in jeopardy—and will endanger the fragile peace of a nation still torn by war.

Temple’s quest to bring the conspirators to justice takes him on a perilous journey through the gaslit streets of the Civil War–era capital, into bawdy houses and back alleys where ruthless enemies await him in every shadowed corner. Aided by an underground network of friends—and by his wife, Fiona, a nurse who possesses a formidable arsenal of medicinal potions—Temple must stay one step ahead of Lafayette Baker, head of the Union Army’s spy service. Along the way, he’ll run from or rely on Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s fearsome secretary of war; the legendary Scottish spymaster Allan Pinkerton; abolitionist Sojourner Truth; the photographer Alexander Gardner; and many others.

Bristling with twists and building to a climax that will leave readers gasping, The Lincoln Conspiracy offers a riveting new account of what truly motivated the assassination of one of America’s most beloved presidents—and who participated in the plot to derail the train of liberty that Lincoln set in motion. -- Ballantine

As soon as I saw the description for THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY by Timothy O'Brien , I immediately thought of my father. I just knew he'd appreciate this novel which blends together the history of Abraham Lincoln's assassination with some suspense. Here are his thoughts:

THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY by Timothy L. O’Brien is an interesting take on the plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. In the book, O’Brien starts with the premise that the plot to kill Lincoln was much more widespread than history records.

The main character is Temple McFadden, an Irish orphan immigrant who was a New York policeman until circumstances led him to move to the Washington D.C. police department. A second strong character is McFadden’s wife, Fiona, who was trained as a doctor but forced to work as a nurse because of the prejudices of the post Civil War society.

The story starts with McFadden gaining possession of the personal diaries of John Wilkes Booth and Mary Todd Lincoln, documents that conceal the depth of the Lincoln assassination plot. While McFadden simply wants to reveal the truth, his life and the life of his friends are in danger because two opposing groups also want the diaries for their own purposes and will do anything to get them.

This is where the book gets interesting because O’Brien now mixes real historical characters with his fictional ones. As McFadden is pursued by the two groups he is challenged by Lafayette Baker, head of the National Defense Bureau, Allan Pinkerton, famous detective and Edwin Stanton, Lincoln’s secretary of war. They all want the diaries. Throughout the novel McFadden and his wife are aided by such famous people as activist Dorothea Dix, abolitionist Sojourner Truth, and photographer Alexander Gardner. O’Brien also gives significant roles in the story to journalist Noah Brooks, Mary Todd Lincoln and her son, Robert and Lincoln assassination conspirators Mary Surratt and Dr. Samuel Mudd.

THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY also gives a great description of the society that existed in Washington D.C. at the time. As McFadden is chased through the streets of Washington, the author’s extensive research produces great descriptions of the Civil War-era capital. The period was both violent and racist. The author’s description of Washington’s terrible climate, the muddy roads and the filth gives the reader a great picture of our nation’s capital in the 1860s. In reading O’Brian’s narrative about the victorious Union Army’s March through Washington, I felt as if I could hear the troops marching along Pennsylvania Avenue with their generals Meade, Custer and Sherman.

THE LINCOLN CONSPIRACY is a well written, well researched historical thriller that is filled with intrigue and mystery and closes with a somewhat surprising conclusion. It is up to the individual reader to determine whether the premise of the story is realistic.

I would recommend this novel for those interested in the Civil War or the Lincoln assassination.

Thanks to Booking Pap Pap for his review and to the publisher for providing a review copy.


Beth F said...

This sounds perfect for Mr. BFR (and maybe for me too). We're both fans of books that take place during/around the Civil War and I like the mix of fact with fiction in this one.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Generally I'm opposed to mixing fact and fiction, but it's always nice to find an author who does it well!

bermudaonion said...

Lincoln seems to be popular right now - they're coming out with a movie about him. This sounds intere4sting!