Shadow on the Valley: A Civil War Thriller

Kirk Mitchell, Author St. Martin's Press $21.95 (342p) ISBN 978-0-312-10542-6
Although well written, this latest addition to the recent spate of historical whodunits suffers from slow pacing. In the fall of 1864, as Sheridan's troops march through Virginia, Simon Wolfe, the Southern-born medical director for the Union Army of the Shenandoah, discovers the body of a brutally murdered woman and a terrified eyewitness--both members of the Dunker church, which is neutral in the conflict. Sheridan wants the killing hushed up; President Lincoln could be harmed in his upcoming election battle against Democratic candidate George McClellan if news gets out that the Union army harbors a murderer. But Wolfe will not let the matter rest; he raises suspicions against several of his fellow officers, including George Armstrong Custer, and his search for justice becomes a crucial battle in the civil war of his own divided loyalties. Mitchell ( With Siberia Comes a Chill ) fills his book with sharply drawn original and historical characters, notably the mercurial, profane Sheridan and Wolfe himself, a believable, troubled outsider whose principles constantly set him against his superiors. The mystery element, however, frequently gets lost in the much more interesting conflicts surrounding the main character. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/1994
Release date: 02/01/1994
Genre: Fiction
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