cover image The Lincoln Letter

The Lincoln Letter

William Martin. Forge, $25.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-7653-2198-5

International bestseller Martin (City of Dreams) returns with another Peter Fallon historical thriller, this time following the dangerous trail of a lost Lincoln document. Boston antiquarian bookseller Fallon and his erstwhile fiancée Evangeline Carrington seem rather tired of their heroic roles, reluctantly getting caught up in a tense drama when a letter written by Lincoln the day he was killed hints at the existence of a personal diary lost early in the Civil War. Several opposing Washington, D.C., players are desperate to find what Civil War flashbacks show has inspired devious plots and murder. Unfortunately, this central tension is not terribly convincing; Martin strains to justify the practical importance of a diary recounting the president’s thoughts on race and emancipation after emancipation was a reality, and a high-octane fight over it 150 years later feels similarly contrived. Still, there’s pleasure in the pacing and research even when the novel succumbs to occasional indulgent lulls. The idea of uncovering such a piece of history is exciting in and of itself, no matter what its impact—violent or otherwise—might be on the political arena. Agent: Roger Gottlieb. (Aug.)