Friday, August 9, 2013

The Lincoln Conspiracy by Timothy L O'Brien - A Review By Holly Weiss

Late spring, 1865.

America mourns the death of beloved United States president, Abraham Lincoln.

Do we know the true circumstances that motivated his assassination?

The Lincoln Conspiracy, a fact-filled fictional takeoff on a supposed plot to assassinate President Lincoln, rips through the veneer of the event's historical record. After the press announces the tragic news, Washington police detective, Temple McFadden, finds two diaries strapped to the body of a dead man at a railroad station. The contents of the diaries may force history to be rewritten. Will the secrets they reveal be sufficient to find and arrest the conspirators?

Hardboiled, snappy prose moves the reader rapid-fire through this historical thriller. The book is action-filled with spot-on historical detail and imaginative plotting. O'Brien stacks his book with counterfeiting, ciphers, some street language and an ample dosing of violence. The relationship between McFadden and his medically wise wife, Fiona, is touching. The author mingles historical and fictional characters. Along the way we meet Lincoln's fearsome secretary of war, Edwin Stanton; Allan Pinkerton, Scottish spymaster; and abolitionist Sojourner Truth. Cracks in the story lie in the multitude of characters that are a bit confusing and not well developed.

Armed with a limp, a cane, and an uncanny knack for probing mysteries, O'Brien's main character, Temple McFadden, falls prey to many an attack, only to survive and continue his pursuit. We assume Mr. O'Brien emphasizes McFadden's survival skills so that he can insert the inspector into his next book. Readers, take note. Despite its title, The Lincoln Conspiracy is not centered on President Lincoln, but rather a vehicle for creating a new "detective extraordinaire" character.

Holly Weiss is the author of a historical fiction novel, Crestmont. She is a writer and reviewer of newly-released books. []

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