Review: Perish from the Earth: A Lincoln and Speed Mystery, by Jonathan F. Putnam. Crooked Lane Books.

Description (quoted from NetGalley):


Newly minted trial lawyer Abraham Lincoln is riding the circuit, traveling by carriage with other lawyers and a judge to bring justice to the remote parts of Illinois. Meanwhile, Lincoln’s close friend Joshua Speed steams up the Mississippi River aboard a steamboat owned by Speed’s father when suddenly, his journey is interrupted when a rigged card game aboard the ship turns to violence–and then murder.

When a young traveling artist is accused of the crime, Speed enlists Lincoln to defend him. Together, Lincoln and Speed work to find evidence of the artist’s innocence. But soon they come to discover that more than just the card games are crooked aboard the Speed family’s ship. As the day of judgment hurtles towards them, Lincoln and Speed must fight to save not only the life of Lincoln’s client but also the merit of Speed’s good name.

Meticulously research and deftly plotted, Jonathan F. Putnam’s second Lincoln and Speed mystery, Perish from the Earth is the superlative follow-up to These Honored Dead, praised by Pulitzer Prize winner Doris Kearns Goodwin as “Splendid…one of the most enjoyable works of fiction I have read in a long time.”


My review:


Apparently, this is the second Lincoln and Speed Mystery that Mr. Putnam has given us. This is a splendid book, an engaging and thought-provoking tale masterfully told. A skillful mixture of fact and fiction, it held my interest as much for the vividness of the historical setting and the excellence of the characters as for its intriguing plot, imbued with the issues and events of its time.


I was especially taken with the description of the complexity and challenge of the river traffic. I had really no idea how much arduous effort it took to power a steamboat. Imagine strong men carrying huge logs and loading them to be used as fuel to power the boat, and the craft and knowledge it required to captain and navigate such a vessel.


Mr. Putnam has given us much historical information, considerable food for thought and contemplation, and a finely-plotted story to savor.


My thanks to author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing an advance copy to read and review.

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