A gritty if not completely realistic installment in a Civil War trilogy.

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HARPER'S RESCUE

A NOVEL OF REDEMPTION IN THE CIVIL WAR

From the Shiloh Trilogy series , Vol. 2

Lt. James Harper returns in this new edition of the second book in Gabhann’s trilogy of historical novels set during the American Civil War.

Paducah, Kentucky, 1862. When an entire Union company is wiped out while camped 15 minutes outside of town, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s intelligence officers suspect there is a spy at work in the small city occupied by soldiers in blue. Only a week back from a short stint in Confederate prison, Lt. Harper of the 1st Iowa Volunteer Mounted Infantry takes it upon himself to figure out that the spy is Franklin Bosley, Paducah’s wealthy restaurateur and brothel owner. He soon meets Maggie Warren, a war widow and prostitute in Bosley’s employ, to whom he develops a quick and potentially dangerous attachment. Meanwhile, Katie Malloy volunteers in a hospital when not doing sex work, and hopes to one day get away from Bosley, to whom she owes a great deal of money. Katie’s mother visits her daughter in recurring dreams and tells her a soldier will come along and save her from her plight. Nineteen-year-old Corp. Gustav Magnusson, who previously thought Harper to be a reckless careerist, has come to trust his commanding officer following their time as Confederate prisoners. As Harper investigates the spy ring at Grant’s request, he and Magnusson become involved in a web of intrigue of both personal and military importance. Gabhann’s prose is suitably textured for his task, combing the grit and blood of war fiction with the stilted manners of the time period. Harper feels self-conscious about the state of his uniform at a party with officers and prostitutes: “Under the scrutiny of the major and his escort, Harper resisted the instinct to brush at his uniform. Nothing he could do now would remove the blood stains and the powder burns.” The first novel in the Shiloh trilogy, Harper’s Donelson (2020), was already fairly prostitute-heavy for a Civil War novel, and this volume’s plot sometimes feels as though it was contrived purely to up the prostitution content. Fans of espionage novels may enjoy its sudden diversion into the world of spycraft, but those looking for epic battles will be disappointed.

A gritty if not completely realistic installment in a Civil War trilogy.

Pub Date: March 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-7343974-2-0

Page Count: 398

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2020

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A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY

An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.

How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.

A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-52-555947-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

THE MYSTERY OF MRS. CHRISTIE

In December 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie really did disappear for 11 days. Was it a hoax? Or did her husband resort to foul play?

When Agatha meets Archie on a dance floor in 1912, the obscure yet handsome pilot quickly sweeps her off her feet with his daring. Archie seems smitten with her. Defying her family’s expectations, Agatha consents to marry Archie rather than her intended, the reliable yet boring Reggie Lucy. Although the war keeps them apart, straining their early marriage, Agatha finds meaningful work as a nurse and dispensary assistant, jobs that teach her a lot about poisons, knowledge that helps shape her early short stories and novels. While Agatha’s career flourishes after the war, Archie suffers setback after setback. Determined to keep her man happy, Agatha finds herself cooking elaborate meals, squelching her natural affections for their daughter (after all, Archie must always feel like the most important person in her life), and downplaying her own troubles, including her grief over her mother's death. Nonetheless, Archie grows increasingly morose. In fact, he is away from home the day Agatha disappears. By the time Detective Chief Constable Kenward arrives, Agatha has already been missing for a day. After discovering—and burning—a mysterious letter from Agatha, Archie is less than eager to help the police. His reluctance and arrogance work against him, and soon the police, the newspapers, the Christies’ staff, and even his daughter’s classmates suspect him of harming his wife. Benedict concocts a worthy mystery of her own, as chapters alternate between Archie’s negotiation of the investigation and Agatha’s recounting of their relationship. She keeps the reader guessing: Which narrator is reliable? Who is the real villain?

A compelling portrait of a marriage gone desperately sour.

Pub Date: Dec. 29, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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