Monday, October 29, 2012

Review: A Marked Man

Summary: Abigail Adams, wife of attorney John Adams-who is deeply involved with the Sons of Liberty-is shocked when one of the Sons is accused of murder. Did the crime arise from the romantic competition for the daughter of a prominent Royalist-or was it politically motivated? Abigail and John believe the accused is innocent, though the evidence against him is strong.

While John works to clear his client's name, Abigail begins her own investigation, and soon learns several unpleasant facts about the dead man, things that greatly increase the number of possible suspects. But as she pursues the truth, the killer pursues her- threatening not only Abigail but her vulnerable family. -- Berkley Prime Crime

In the past few years, I've "sampled" quite a few cozy mystery series, but when I read the description for A MARKED MAN: AN ABIGAIL ADAMS MYSTERY by Barbara Hamilton, I immediately knew that this one sounded different from every other mystery. A MARKED MAN takes place in Boston in 1774; and Abigail Adams, John Adams' wife, is the amateur sleuth. Is that an original premise with a fantastic main character or what?

A MARKED MAN begins just ten weeks after the Boston Tea Party when John Adams is an attorney by day and an active member of the Sons of Liberty at night. (The Sons of Liberty is a secret organization headed by Sam Adams which opposes the Crown.) When a member of the Sons is accused of murdering a royal representative to the colonial court, Abigail and John don't believe that he's guilty of the crime. Naturally, John works to help his client gain his freedom; but at the same time, Abigail begins her own investigation into the crime. As she starts to uncover some startling clues, she finds herself and her family in danger.

I liked A MARKED MAN, but I wouldn't say that I loved it. I can't put my finger on why, but I had a hard time following the story. In all fairness, I did have some things going on in my personal life which cut into my reading time; and as a result, I wasn't able to read this book in one or two sittings like I normally do with cozies. So each time I picked up the book, I had to figure out where I was in the story. That was definitely not the fault of the book or author!

Despite having some issues with the story, I did enjoy this book and I found much to appreciate. First of all, I loved how the author blended fact with fiction. While I'm far from a history buff (especially about Colonial times), I thought it was so interesting to read about the Boston Tea Party and the after effects of the citizens of Boston. In addition, I was fascinated by the information about the Sons of Liberty as well as the tensions between the Royalists and Patriots.

However, it was the character of Abigail Adams that I loved the most. I have always appreciated Ms. Adams for her role in the development of our country. I admire her relationship with her husband and her children, but I also appreciate how much she supported John in his endeavors... and she wasn't afraid to offer him a bit of her mind. There is no doubt that she was an extremely intelligent and strong woman, and I think the author did a wonderful job of portraying her in this manner. I even loved how she gave Ms. Adams such a smart sense of humor!

I admit that I was a little surprised by how well written A MARKED MAN was. I think I was deceived a bit by the cover... and by that I mean the cat! The mystery was most intriguing and very complex, and I loved how Ms. Adams acquired the clues in a very methodical manner. I honestly had no idea who the murderer was, and I was pretty surprised with the revelation. In addition, I was extremely impressed with the amount of historical information that was included in the story. I even found myself googling some events to see if they were real or invented for the purpose of the story.

Overall, I'm not sure that A MARKED MAN will go down as one of my favorite mysteries, but there was a lot that I appreciated from this novel; and I wouldn't hesitate to read another one from this series. Definitely recommended for fans of mysteries and historical fiction.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.


The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

I'm a huge Abigail Adams fan so I was very pleased to discover this series. I had some trouble following this book as well so it may just be the way it is written that caused the confusion. Excited for more of the series!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Too bad you didn't like it as much as you hoped!

bermudaonion said...

I love that this is a historical cozy! How fun! Even though this book was a little hard to follow, it sounds like the author has a lot of potential.

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

I love historical fiction but have never read a historical cozy. I understand about not being able to read a book in a few days and then having trouble getting all the characters straight.

Beth F said...

I don't look for prize-winning writing when I read cozies -- I want good characters and a good plot. Sorry this wasn't quite everything you were hoping for.