Richard E. Crabbe, Author Thomas Dunne Books $27.95 (480p) ISBN 978-0-312-20371-9
Crabbe debuts with a cunningly imagined historical fiction set in New York City in 1883. The richly atmospheric thriller tells the story of a scheme by a group of former Confederate soldiers to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge, which is under construction. The saboteurs, led by former Civil War Capt. Thaddeus Sangree, view the bridge as a symbol of the North's moral corruption and misguided desire for unity. Sangree's own secret motivation is personal: his brother, Franklin, was killed at Gettysburg, and Sangree holds former Union Col. Washington Roebling responsible for his brother's death. Roebling's father designed the Brooklyn Bridge and the younger Roebling is its chief engineer. The scheme has been meticulously planned for years, with saboteurs obtaining jobs working on the bridge so they can understand its weak points. However, when they kill a bridge mason who has caught on to their plan, the murder attracts the attention of bulldog police detective Tom Braddock. Braddock sniffs out the plot through a combination of dogged pursuit, investigative cunning and the brute force that was common practice in 19th-century law enforcement. The action covers a wide spectrum of 1880s New York life, drawing upon a large cast of believable characters, but it centers on the city's disease-infested tenements. Crabbe, who worked in the advertising industry for 20 years, falters occasionally in tone, vacillating between gritty period drama and modern, too clever dialogue. However, he has effectively re-created a time when America was attempting to heal old wounds while steadying itself for a great industrial thrust forward. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/30/2000
Release date: 11/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-0-312-28464-0
Open Ebook - 480 pages - 978-1-4299-7256-7
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