The Lincoln Conspiracy
by Timothy L. O’Brien
Read: Sept. 10-18, 2012
Challenge: Mystery & Suspense 2012
Yearly count: 23
Source: Review copy through NetGalley
Blurb: 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.
Review: I originally saw this book on LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program a couple of months back. I was immediately intrigued – pretty much anything with the name “Lincoln” will get my attention. I was incredibly sad when I didn’t snag a copy. I checked to see if my local library had a copy on order – they didn’t. Then I decided to see if maybe it was available on NetGalley (a service that I rarely use because I really do not like reading e-books). I was encouraged when I found that it was listed – and was even more thrilled when I got accepted for a copy! I got my Nook Color out, dusted it off, charged it up (because I honestly don’t think I had turned it on in over a year) and loaded the book onto it. Then I let it sit. For weeks. Finally I realized that if I wanted this review to get done around the release date, I would have to get on it.
My feelings on this book overall are mixed. I need to start out by saying that, for me, this book started out extremely slow. Like to the point where if it hadn’t been a review copy, I probably never would have finished it just because the beginning was that tough to get through. But I carried on … and I can honestly say that I am very glad that I stuck with it. It was about 75-100 pages in when it started to really get interesting.
While reading this book it didn’t really feel that much like a historical novel. Obviously it was, seeing as how it was set in 1865, but there was something about the language that didn’t make it seem historical. The context was there, but the language was not, I suppose it the best way for me to describe it. Personally, I liked that. I tend to shy away from anything that has flowery descriptions of things or that has wording that is harder for me to understand because of the differences in the wording we use today versus what was used in the past. This book didn’t have that feel to it (which might have some historical fiction fans upset). I’m not 100% sure, but I think part of the reason why I get that vibe from this book is simply because it was written by a man. All the historical fiction that I have read (and trust me, my experience with the genre is limited) has been authored by women. Either way, it doesn’t really matter because I enjoyed the book.
I liked the characters. Temple and Fiona are a good couple, they definitely compliment each other perfectly. Poor Temple, he was always ruining his boots – much to the chagrin of Fiona!! I liked Augustus as well. Having a black man play such an important role in a white couple’s life during the 1860s was quite interesting. They truly considered him a friend and I liked that, particularly since it was set in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. I don’t think that made much sense, it’s really hard to find the wording for my feelings on this.
The “mystery” of this book was interesting. It obviously revolves around the diaries that are mentioned in the blurb above. It was neat seeing the cipher be broken bit by bit throughout the book. And there sure were a lot of people in D.C. that wanted those diaries covered up! It definitely made for some exciting moments. My only complaint is that I would have liked to have had more information on what was in Mrs. Lincoln’s diary than what the reader sees.
The ending of the book …. oh, how do I explain this without giving too much away. Let me start with this – the ending frustrated me! I guess I wanted more closure than I felt like I got. We never know who Maestro really is. I have a pretty good guess just by the clues that are given about him, but I have no concrete evidence as to if my suspicion is correct. And that irritated me! However, having said that, I suppose it adds to the suspense of the overall story.
Overall I would highly recommend this book. I’m glad that I persevered through that slow beginning and finished the book. It might technically be a historical fiction book, but I really think it will appeal to the thriller/suspense crowd as well.