This first novel by ex-Congressman Mrazek is a deft and fast-paced historical adventure, involving a ragtag group of villains, double agents, and a tough-minded young hero and heroine contending for a cache of gold. Set in the waning months of the Civil War, in the devastated Shenandoah Valley, the story traces the growing involvement of 15-year-old Jamie Lockhart in the search for several crates of Confederate gold, seized by the Union in 1861, and then quickly stolen by a group of Confederate officers, who hide in the expectation that the war will soon be over and the Confederacy none the worse for its disappearance. The last survivor of that group leads a band of cutthroats in pursuit of Jamie, who has accidentally discovered the only map to the gold. Another group soon enters the fray, determined to use the gold for the benefit of newly emancipated slaves. Arid Jamie wants to deliver the gold bars personally to Robert E. Lee. Along the way, he joins forces with the bright, independent, and bloody-minded Katherine Dandridge. Just 18 years old, she is determined to track down and kill the Confederate deserters pursuing Jamie after they ruthlessly shoot down her father. Confederate and union raiders, newly escaped slaves, and a seemingly demented actor soon enter the fray, which turns even bloodier. Jamie and Katherine survive, older and wiser for their struggles, and with secrets of their own. A gripping, well-researched, and vivid debut.