review copy provided by Ballantine Books via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour
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.
"What if the plot to assassinate President Lincoln was wider and more sinister than we ever imagined?" This question is a great starting point for The Lincoln Conspiracy. When the novel begins, the reader is introduced to Temple McFadden as he walking to the B & O Railroad station. The assassination of President Lincoln is still fresh in the minds of everyone, including Temple. Little does he know that he is about to be quickly drawn into a vast conspiracy that could have far-flung repercussions. At first the reader knows little about Temple except that he has a limp, uses a cane and is a police detective in Washington, D.C. Temple's past and his current situation as well as his true character are revealed as the novel progresses. Temple McFadden is a complicated character who has faults and weaknesses but strives to live according to a certain code. I really liked that the author didn't try to make him too perfect.
Fiona, Temple's wife, is a smart, observant, intuitive, resourceful, independent woman during a time when it was still very difficult for women to be these things. I loved her sharp wit and her calm in difficult situations and her quick thinking. Fiona is one of those characters that stays with a reader long after the book has been finished and put back on the shelf. One of the many, insightful things said by Fiona is still true today - and probably always has been. This particular line just resonated, especially during an election year.
"Money turns the wheel in America, not votes," Fiona would say whenever they strolled near the Treasury.
There are so many private detectives, agents, independent agents, corrupt officials and businessmen, military officers and outright criminals in the story to keep the reader guessing as to everyone's ultimate motivation for their actions.
Temple has friends in some interesting places and I particularly enjoyed the sections of the novel that detailed his relationship with Sojourner Truth and the other abolitionists as well as the colorful characters who lived in Swampdoodle. There are even run ins with Pinkerton and his detectives, including a female detective.
The line about money turning the wheels in America is very important for the whole conspiracy and the storyline in general. I loved how the author intertwined the real historical people with his fictional characters and many of the events in the novel happened or seemed like they could have happened as written. It was great fun and caused quite a bit of anxiety as I rushed through the final quarter of the book to find out how the conspiracy ultimately concluded.
The Lincoln Conspiracy would be a great book choice for anyone who likes history, historical fiction, thrillers, is interested in Lincoln or the Civil War.
About the Author
Prior to becoming Sunday Business editor at The New York Times in 2006, Tim was a staff writer for the Times. Among the topics and people he has written about for the paper are Wall Street, Russia, Manhattan's art world, cybercrimes and identity theft, Warren Buffett, geopolitics, digital media, international finance, Hollywood, terrorism and terrorist financing, money laundering, gambling, and white-collar fraud. Tim was a member of a team of Times reporters that won a Loeb Award for Distinguished Business Journalism in 1999.
Before returning to the Times in 2003, Tim was the senior feature writer at Talk, a magazine founded by former New Yorker editor Tina Brown. Tim was with Talk from 2000 until it ceased publishing in 2002. Before joining Talk, Tim was a reporter with the Times and, prior to that, The Wall Street Journal.
O'Brien, a graduate of Georgetown University, holds three master's degrees -- in US History, Business and Journalism -- all from Columbia University. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife and two children.