Saturday, August 6, 2016

Book Review: These Honored Dead by Jonathan Putnam

These Honored Dead
Author: Jonathan Putnam
Series: A Lincoln and Speed Mystery (Book 1)
Publication: Crooked Lane Books; Reprint edition (August 9, 2016)

Description: Joshua Speed, the enterprising second son of a wealthy plantation owner, has struck off on his own. But before long, he makes a surprising and crucial new acquaintance--a freshly minted lawyer by the name of Abraham Lincoln.

When an orphaned girl from a neighboring town is found murdered and suspicion falls on her aunt, Speed makes it his mission to clear her good name. Of course, he'll need the legal expertise of his unusual new friend. Together, Lincoln and Speed fight to bring justice to their small town. But as more bodies are discovered and the investigation starts to come apart at the seams, there's one question on everyone's lips: does Lincoln have what it takes to crack his first murder case?

Inspired by actual events from the American frontier, Jonathan Putnam's thrilling debut These Honored Dead brings renewed verve and vigor to the historical mystery genre that readers haven't seen since Caleb Carr's The Alienist.

My Thoughts: Narrated by Joshua Speed, this mystery is firmly rooted into the attitudes and behaviors of the Nineteenth Century. It is 1837 and Speed, who runs a general store, is asked if he knows a place where a newly minted lawyer - Abraham Lincoln - can bed down. They end up sharing a bed in the room above the shop where Speed lives with two other men.

When a young woman is murdered, the two need to work together on the case. The woman is the niece of the widowed woman Speed is secretly seeing. When the Widow Harriman falls under suspicion, Speed is determined to clear her name. When her nephew is also murdered, even more suspicion falls on her.

When Speed goes to warn her that she is soon to be arrested, he finds that she has been murdered too. Suspicion then falls on the prominent doctor because he and the Widow Harriman were also in a relationship.

The descriptions of the medical practices of the day were frankly horrifying as were the descriptions of the lifestyles of the indigent in workhouses. Both the medical practices and the workhouse figured prominently in the plot.

The trial scenes were vividly depicted. Because the book was narrated by Speed, I didn't feel that I got nearly enough of Lincoln in the story. The trial scenes gave him a chance to shine with his folksy style.

This was a well-written story filled with great period detail.

Favorite Quote:
"It is you, Joshua!" My sister Martha gave a high-pitched squeal as she ran forward and flung her arms around my neck. She giggled into my ear, and at once I was transported back to Farmington and the hours we spent rolling down the lawns together in gay laughter.
I got this one in exchange for an honest review from Crooked Lane Books. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. I've been curious what you thought of this one. I think I'll read it rather than listen to it.


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