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Friday, September 14, 2012

The Lincoln Conspiracy by Timothy L. O'Brien

Title: The Lincoln Conspiracy
Author: Timothy L. O’Brien
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Pages: 346
How I Read It: ARC received from the publisher – The views expressed in my review are mine alone and I have received no compensation for these opinions.
ISBN: 9780345496775
My Rating: 3.5 Crowns

Synopsis: 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.

*Synopsis taken from Goodreads

My Review: The Lincoln Conspiracy starts off with a bang, a good old fashioned chase, and doesn’t let up from there. 

One thing that really struck me while reading this book was how realistic it was in terms of my expectations for what things were like during this time in our history.  For those of you who are TV junkies like I am, this novel reminded me a lot of the new BBC America show Copper: both are set during the 1860s and are about detectives in major metropolitan areas.  In fact, our main character in this novel, Temple McFadden, worked in New York before transferring to Washington DC.  So in my head, Temple and Corky (the main character in Copper) are friends and colleagues, because I like to merge my fictional worlds.
Anyway, watching Copper feels a bit like what it would be to watch The Lincoln Conspiracy were it on the screen.  This novel is really violent and bloody, which bothered me until I thought about it a bit and realized that’s probably really what things were like.  Life during the 1860s wasn’t easy.  There was no indoor plumbing, electricity, or any of the other modern conveniences we’re accustomed to.  Law enforcement was a relatively new thing in our country, and the questionable loyalties of the citizens in general post of the Civil War undoubtedly made investigative work even more difficult.  When you live in a society where no one really thinks twice about killing a detective, your detectives are bound to be more violent towards their suspects in general.  Racial tensions are high, there’s a lot of division between Catholics and Protestants, and being Irish certainly doesn’t help a guy like Temple.  Add the first presidential assassination into the mix and you’ve got a pot ready to boil over.

The mystery in this book is really unraveling a deeper conspiracy behind the Lincoln assassination, a speculation about what else might have been going on during this tumultuous time in US history.  When people are willing to be bought for the right price, it’s hard to know who is really a friend or an enemy.  The fact that many of the characters were actual historical figures makes it all the more interesting to think about the motivations and goals that could have gone into this tragic event.

I quite enjoyed this book, and I would like to see more of Temple and his wife Fiona in the future, so it would be excellent if this ended up being a series.  I felt the end left it open for a possible sequel, or at the very least a continuation of some of our characters, so I’m crossing my fingers that the author will revisit these people later on.

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Angela Renee said...

Seeing how I love Copper, I must give this book a go!

Angela Renee
(The Queen of the Quill)

Unknown said...

Definitely do! The parallels between them were really interesting to me, and it was a lovely mystery on top of that :)

Jeanne M said...

The Lincoln Conspiracy is definately a book that all history lovers are going to love reading! If I'm lucky enough to win I look forward to many interesting discussions over dinner after my husband and I BOTH read it!