Sisters of Cain

Miriam Grace Monfredo, Author
Miriam Grace Monfredo, Author Berkley Publishing Group $21.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-425-17672-6
Mass Market Paperbound - 384 pages - 978-0-425-18092-1
Prebound-Sewn - 368 pages - 978-0-613-65924-6
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The author's chronicling of the mid-19th century moves deeper into the Civil War period in this seventh Seneca Falls mystery (following Must the Maiden Die), which provides a marriage of history and mystery with a sharp and sharp-witted feminist viewpoint. Adventuresome Bronwen Llyr continues to flaunt convention as she moves from detective to spy, joining up with Treasury Chief Rhys Bevan's fledgling Special Intelligence Force in Washington, D.C. Her more conservative sister, Kathryn Llyr, also comes to Washington, hoping to win a job as a nurse under Dorothea Dix. Both sisters end up coping with great danger and interacting with historical and fictional characters as they play major and minor roles in the Virginia Peninsula Campaign of 1862. Monfredo's historical accuracy provides a solid foundation for the exploits of both sisters. Bronwen makes forays into Confederate territory and conducts a battle of wits and wills with spies, counterspies and traitors. And Kathryn, though rejected by Dix, finds scope for her talents dealing with the ravages wrought by disease and also gets caught in the eddies of her sister. Monfredo's skillful characterizations of historical figures (Lincoln, General McClellan, Dix, etc.) blend easily with her fictional creations. And her insights into the race to develop ironclad ships (Merrimack and Monitor), to woo British and European allies and to develop essential information-gathering units nicely flesh out this intriguing novel, which should appeal to Civil War buffs and mystery fans equally. (Sept.)
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