In July 1861, just months after the Battle of Fort Sumter plunges the young nation into civil war, President Lincoln’s top priority is to unite the country, while Adam Quinn finds himself on the trail of a murderer . . .
On Independence Day, the citizens of Washington, DC, are celebrating as if there isn’t a war. But the city is teeming with green Union recruits while President Lincoln and his War Department are focused on military strategy to take Richmond in Secessionist Virginia in order to bring the conflict to a swift end. Manassas, Virginia, near Bull Run Creek, is in their sights.
The very next morning, as Congress convenes once more, a dead body is found hanging from the crane beneath the unfinished dome of the Capitol. Lincoln’s close confidant, Adam Speed Quinn, is called upon to determine whether the man had taken his own life, or if someone had helped him.
With the assistance of Dr. George Hilton and journalist Sophie Gates, Quinn investigates what turns out to be murder. But the former scout is about to be blindsided, for a Southern sympathizer in the city is running a female spy network reporting to the Confederacy, and she has an insidious plot to foil the Union Army’s march to Manassas by employing the charms of one Constance Lemagne to get as close to Adam as possible . . .
At the start of Gleason's superior third Lincoln's White House mystery (after 2018's Murder in the Oval Library), set in July 1861, Southern sympathizer Pinebar Tufts, an assistant examiner in the Patent Office's civil engineering division, enters the partially completed Capitol, where an assailant hits him on the head. The next day, Tufts's body is discovered hanging from a crane beneath the building's half-finished dome. The grim find is reported to series lead Adam Quinn, a frontiersman who has become a member of Abraham Lincoln's security team. African-American physician George Hilton, a friend of Quinn's, examines the corpse and confirms Quinn's suspicions of foul play. A complicated murder inquiry ensues. Quinn must probe Tufts's killing at a particularly fraught time, as Washington, D.C., residents anxiously await the "big battle" that they hope will settle the Civil War in the Union's favor. Gleason effectively integrates historical subplots, including a Southern spy ring, into the main story line. Owen Parry fans will be pleased.