Set in 1900, this impressive debut novel from historian Stewart (American Emperor) opens with Jamie Fraser, an Ohio country doctor, agonizing over the cryptic deathbed revelation of 85-year-old John Bingham, the respected statesman who tried the conspirators in the 16th president’s murder: Mary Surratt, an accomplice to assassin John Wilkes Booth, privately confessed to Bingham a secret that threatened “the survival of the republic.” Along with Speed Cook, a black ex-baseball player and aspiring newspaperman, Fraser obsesses over parsing this secret, which could reveal a conspiracy that reaches beyond Booth to the higher powers of the Union and the Confederacy. Traversing New York City, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., the amateur sleuths confront henchmen of the shadowy Sons of Liberty, racist mobs, and powerful financiers, whose cotton-trading connections are somehow tied to the fateful night at Ford’s Theater. Eschewing the wild fantasies of many conspiracy thrillers, Stewart constructs a plausible version of history that works as both fiction and speculative inquiry. Agent: Will Lippincott, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/22/2013 Release date: 08/27/2013 Genre: Fiction
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