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The First Assassin

John J. Miller.
Publisher Mariner  
Format paperback
Product Dimensions 8.25 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
ISBN 9780547744995
Pages/Publication Date 446/2010
Daedalus Item Code 34109
This item is not available.
In 1861, as the United States teeters on the brink of civil war, Colonel Charles P. Rook organizes security in the nation's capital, surrounding Abraham Lincoln with bodyguards, placing sharpshooters on rooftops, and investigating rumors of conspiracy fomented by secessionists. Yet a mysterious killer slips into the city, hired by a wealthy Southern planter to assassinate the president and destroy the Union, though he catches Rook's attention by leaving a trail of dead bodies. Rook's only hope is Portia, a runaway slave who holds the key to the assassin's identity, in this gripping debut novel from journalist and nonfiction author John Miller.

"It's America 1861, and the slave states are jubilant. Fort Sumter has fallen. The new president—the guy in the stovepipe hat—has slunk into Washington at night, like the craven thing they know he is. If the slaveholders assassinate this 'Black Republican,' they'll have their own country. Langston Bennett, a Charleston plantation owner, is a gentleman until he's crossed. That's when he sets up the murder-for-hire scheme that drives this historical thriller. The elements interconnect with watchmaker intricacy: the psycho killer, all animal cunning; the exhausted member of the White House detail who can't convince anyone of the danger; the beautiful woman, all money and magnolia accent, who can't be trusted; the brave, battered, escaped slave who holds the key and must get to D.C. in time. Comparisons to The Day of the Jackal are inevitable, and the author plays along, naming one character Charles Calthrop. (Remember ChaCal in Forsyth's novel?) The plot cascades along as if running on tracks, which thriller fans won't mind at all. History buffs, the other half of the target audience, can still learn things, like the meaning of 'grave dust.' A great ride, especially for those who enjoyed Dara Horn's All Other Nights."—Booklist (starred review)

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