The Sword of General Englund: A Novel of Murder in the Dakota Territory, 1876

Donald Honig, Author Scribner Book Company $19.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-684-80321-0
The murder of a famous general stuns the U.S. Army in this first-rate puzzler set at a remote Dakota post in 1876. When General Alfred Englund is stabbed to death in his office and an enlisted man is found murdered nearby, the army sends Major Thomas Maynard to investigate. Although an irascible scout fled the fort shortly after meeting with the general on the night of the killings, Englund's fellow officers are the prime suspects. All respected him, but complained about his certainty-buttressed by a fabled incident wherein lightning supposedly struck his sword-that he acted for God. Despite his self-righteousness, the general had had an affair with a colonel's young wife, and another officer nursed an apparent grudge from the Civil War. Maynard, carrying serious emotional baggage of his own, must sort out alibis that resemble suggest a frontier army version of Rashomon. With the help of shrewd and observant Sergeant Barrie, Maynard tracks a key witness and finds an answer that pleases no one. This engrossing tale displays Honig's solid grasp of time and place, military camaraderie and the perils of loyalty when the commander is a little bit nuts. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
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