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THE DESERTER by Jane Langton

THE DESERTER

Murder at Gettysburg

By Jane Langton

Pub Date: July 7th, 2003
ISBN: 0-312-30186-3
Publisher: Dunne/Minotaur

Every family has black sheep, but what could Mary Kelly’s great-great-grandfather Seth Morgan, Harvard class of 1860, have done that was so shameful no one ever spoke of it?

Mary and her scholar/sleuth/cop husband Homer (The Escher Twist, 2002, etc.) like nothing better than foraging through archives and attics in search of truth. Now their research lands them smack in the middle of the Battle of Gettysburg with the fighting men of Company E, Second Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Heroic deaths waited there for three Harvard graduates, two officers and a private not known for his bravery, but the evidence points to their classmate Seth’s skedaddling to Baltimore. Or does it? Alternating present-day sleuthing that pits Mary and Homer against Mary’s distant cousin, an avaricious Civil War groupie, with searing chapters recounting the very pregnant Ida Morgan’s search for her husband—listed on the muster rolls as missing—as she moves from one field hospital to the next, the tale of Seth’s desertion leads to the Baltimore stage and a coquettishly plump actress, to Washington theatrical playbills, and then back to the attic and to Harvard, where Seth is finally memorialized properly.

Fine storytelling grounded in solid research and highlighted with vintage photographs and the author’s trademark line drawings. An unabashed love letter to Harvard and librarians, and an admonition for hawks in our own time.