Enslaved: A Mystery Novel

Ron Burns, Author St. Martin's Press $20.95 (262p) ISBN 978-0-312-10977-6
In the second Harrison Hull historical mystery (after The Mysterious Death of Meriwether Lewis ), Thomas Jefferson summons Hull, soldier and frontier adventurer, to Monticello in the cold January of 1812. His mission: to track down two missing slaves (Sally Hemings's cousins) now belonging to Jefferson's Kentucky nephews. Hull's quest, fueled by constant hard drinking, takes him on horseback to isolated plantations, a thieves' hangout in a cave, a dungeon-like country jail and an Ohio River island harboring a slave-breeding farm. He witnesses a vicious flogging and the murder trial of three innocent slaves, captures some adversaries, kills others, narrowly escapes being slain several times, survives an earthquake, lets a charming villain slip through his fingers but solves the case and arrests two murderers. Though many of the players (not Hull) and events are factual, plotting and characterization are sometimes weak. Burns nevertheless paints a vigorous picture of a frontier slave state and evokes the peculiar attitudes arising from two unnatural conditions--being a slave and being a master. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/04/1994
Release date: 07/01/1994
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