THE BLUE AND THE GRAY UNDERCOVER
, . . Forge, $24.95 (318pp) ISBN 978-0-312-87487-2
This masterful selection of 18 original short stories based on little-known exploits by civilian Union and Confederate spies shines light on the spirit, resourcefulness and sheer bravery of men, women and children, both free and slave, who gave their all in the service of their ideals. At once educational and entertaining, tales like Janet Berliner's account of action in rough Nevada territory and Edward D. Hoch and Robert J. Randisi's stories of the exploits of unforgiving and coldhearted double agents are spun around actual events and known characters and are convincingly realistic. Feats of courage like as those described in Brendan DuBois's tale of an unlikely spy and James H. Cobb's Jane Bond–style outing thrill the pulse, while the usually cozy Jane Haddam and humorous Loren Estleman turn in bone-chilling and brutally perfect gems on the horror of war. Romantic themes are deftly explored in P.G. Nagle's "The Courtship of Captain Swenk,"
and Kristine Kathryn Rusch tells a brilliant flashback tale of a faithless wife and a rebel officer presumed dead in "The Dead Line." Editor Ed Gorman participates, too, giving a surprise ending to what is perhaps the saddest tale in the collection, and Marie Jakober's gut-wrenching story about an infamous Confederate prison in Richmond, Va., rounds out this satisfying and rewarding read. The balance struck between action and reflection, suspense and romance, humor and tragedy makes this a particularly fine collection, of interest to mystery readers as well as Civil War buffs.
Reviewed on: 11/05/2001