Miriam Grace Monfredo, Author . Berkley Prime Crime $22.95 (335p) ISBN 978-0-425-18641-1

All the women are smart and beautiful, all the men debonair and handsome, in the less than stellar concluding volume of Monfredo's Cain trilogy (Sisters of Cain; Brothers of Cain), which also counts as the ninth mystery in the author's generally strong Seneca Falls series. The three protofeminists who are the trilogy's major recurring characters—the Llyr sisters, Bronwen and Kathryn, and their aunt, Glynis—continue their individual crusades against a backdrop of muddled troop movements and dire battlefield conditions during the Civil War's lengthy and bloody Peninsula Campaign of 1862. Treasury Agent Bronwen matches wits with the enemy (declared and undeclared) and contends with her nemesis, real-life private detective Allan Pinkerton. Kathryn fights to win respect for women as nurses. Librarian Glynis leaves Seneca Falls to travel to the battle site in response to an urgent summons. Unfortunately, the characters seem to be marking time through much of the book. Glynis vacillates between two men; Bronwen fences with her old foe, Colonel de Warde, a Southern sympathizer; and Kathryn nurses her patients and the heart wound inflicted by Dr. Gregg Travis. Bronwen cuts the most heroic figure, repeatedly challenging the enemy on his own ground to gather information about a plot to assassinate President Lincoln. Only near the end does Monfredo hit her stride, as Bronwen seeks to stop an infamous blockade-runner and unmask a traitor. Despite its weaknesses, this latest is sure to please the author's fans. (Sept. 3)

Reviewed on: 08/26/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 352 pages - 978-0-425-19130-9
Prebound-Other - 978-0-613-65875-1
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