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South of Shiloh

South of Shiloh

3.0 1
by Chuck Logan

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Dedicated devotees of history gather near Corinth, Mississippi, carrying ancient weapons and dressed in authentic Civil War uniforms, to refight the Battle of Kirby Creek. But during the reenactment, a sniper's bullet rips through an unsuspecting participant . . . and a man who lived for mock war dies for his obsession.

The fatal


Dedicated devotees of history gather near Corinth, Mississippi, carrying ancient weapons and dressed in authentic Civil War uniforms, to refight the Battle of Kirby Creek. But during the reenactment, a sniper's bullet rips through an unsuspecting participant . . . and a man who lived for mock war dies for his obsession.

The fatal shot was intended for Kenny Beeman—a Mississippi cop standing next to the victim—a grim discovery that compels the dead man's widow to enlist the aid of her former lover, news photographer John Rane. Armed with an accurate Sharps Civil War rifle and live ammunition, Rane must now join forces with Beeman in a bizarre world of pretend soldiers. For a modern-day war born of corruption and greed is about to erupt on hallowed ground—and the battlefield of Shiloh will run red with blood once again.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Tension between the Union and the Confederacy lives on in this fast-paced stand-alone thriller from Logan (Homefront). When Minnesotan Paul Edin is killed during a re-enactment of the battle of Kirby Creek near Corinth, Miss., local law enforcement quickly declares his death a tragic accident. But when Paul's widow, Jenny, learns that the bullet may have been meant for deputy Kenny Beeman, she's determined to uncover the truth. Reconnecting with John Rane-her ex-lover and the biological father of the child she raised with Paul-Jenny persuades John to go to Corinth and investigate. A photographer and former cop known for taking risks, John joins forces with Kenny in Mississippi and attempts to unravel a complex web of family feuds. John soon realizes that the upcoming re-enactment of the battle of Shiloh could end up as bloody as the original. Despite a few plot holes, Logan skillfully immerses the reader in the traditions and eccentricities of the men who meticulously recreate every aspect of the Civil War. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
School Library Journal

Minnesota Civil War buff Paul Eden's death at a reenactment of the Battle of Kirby Creek near Corinth, MS, is the result of a sniper's bullet gone wrong, but the incident is ruled an accident for lack of evidence, although locals have their suspicions. Tensions rise when John Rane, a news photographer from St. Paul, arrives a week later with Eden's reenactment gear, a rare Civil War rifle, and camera equipment he doesn't use and seeks out Deputy Sheriff Kenny Beeman, the sniper's intended victim. Together, Rane and Beeman plot a showdown at a reenactment of the Battle of Shiloh scheduled for the next weekend. As the men lay their plans, they gradually reveal their pasts, their motivations, and their temperaments. Meanwhile, the sniper's life takes a series of unexpected turns, which makes the outcome of the showdown as uncertain as the Battle of Shiloh 145 years earlier. Logan (Vapor Trail; Absolute Zero) has penned a tightly woven, low-key thriller that is fascinating for its historical theme, attention to detail, and analysis of the opposing psyches of North and South. An intensely gripping story of greed, manipulation, family dysfunction, and murder; highly recommended.
—Thomas L. Kilpatrick Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Kirkus Reviews
A southern sniper's bullet accidentally takes out a northern Civil War reenactor, causing hostilities to resume in modern Mississippi. Logan (Homefront, 2005, etc.) goes a thousand miles south from his usual Minnesota territory to Corinth, Miss., where the locals have been growing a tourist industry around the battles fought near the Tennessee border. The other local industry appears to be crime, as Corinth, to its shame, still harbors the kind of tough guys with whom nearby legendary (real-life) sheriff Buford Pusser used regularly to go to war. One of the book's present-day villains, slimy Mitchell Lee, takes advantage of the confusion surrounding the reenactment of a Corinthian Civil War skirmish to shoot, from a sniper's position, Deputy Kenny Beeman, the lawman who shot Lee's lowlife cousin and whose law-officer father shot another criminal a generation earlier. But Lee's bullet fatally hits reenactor Paul Edin, the guy next to Beeman, a sweet Minnesota insurance salesman on his first foray against the Confederate rebel forces. Beeman, who suspects that he was the sniper's intended target, phones Minnesota with the bad news. Meanwhile, Edin's widow, Jenny, while her husband was off playing soldier, for the first time in 11 years dropped in on her onetime lover John Rane, the biological father of the daughter Edin lovingly raised. Now Rane, a cop turned prize-winning photojournalist, seizes the chance to do something right for the woman he abandoned when she got pregnant. Grabbing his own family's Civil War rifle, he heads south to do battle, teaming with Beeman, whose life has been anonymously threatened. The two men, culturally diverse as they may be, find that their similar sensesof irony and honor make them a passable duo in the hunt for justice. The Southern baroque plot is simply a vehicle, but an entertaining one, for Logan to play war games with a couple of very strong and likable soldiers.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.99(d)

Read an Excerpt

South of Shiloh
A Thriller

Chapter One

Stillwater, Minnesota

"Jenny, any luck?" Paul Edin called out as he stooped over the duffel bag he'd just torn apart by the front door and pawed through a pile of blue wool clothing. He set aside a tangle of leather belts and pouches. A silver bayonet in a black scabbard clattered on the floor.

At the other end of the house, in the mud porch off the kitchen, Jennifer Edin turned her head in a slow toss that was old habit from when her hair was longer. Thirty-five last October, she had learned to put little faith in luck as an eleventh-hour solution. "When's the last time you remember seeing them?" she called back.

"I don't know."

"Them" referred to his reenactor spectacles without which he could not embark on his Mississippi Civil War adventure. When Jenny narrowed her eyes, the sprinkle of cinnamon freckles across the bridge of her straight nose and wide cheeks tightened. Her fifth-grade students understood that this quiet, alert look signaled a prelude to intense scrutiny.

A blue-eyed brunette, hair in a tidy bob, she stood five seven and kept the needle on the bathroom scale planted dead on one twenty-four. Willowy and athletic, she stayed a few calculated pounds shy of curvaceous.

Something held in check there.

Methodically, she began to sort through the mound of workday debris her husband and daughter regularly tossed on the long table on the porch: books, magazines, clothing, newspapers, a bicycle pump. The mud porch was her triage station, where she stemmed the casual chaos of his garage from invading the order of her house.

"Mom?" Molly Edin appeared in the kitchen doorway with a cordless phone in her hand. "Rachel wants to know if I can come over."

They'd rushed home from school to see Paul off, so Jenny gave her daughter the Look, followed by the Voice; a no-nonsense tone she had perfected teaching special ed to inner-city kids in St. Paul. "Not now, you will help me look for Dad's glasses."

"He's wearing his glasses." Molly, just turned eleven, with her first pimple on her chin, was indignant at being ignored. She waved the phone, insisting. The sweet malleable Gumby years of nine and ten were gone forever. Molly was becoming a prepubescent "me."

"His reenactor glasses, you know; the old ones," Jenny said. "Now hang up the phone and check the kitchen counters."

"Nobody says hang up the phone anymore," Molly said, then she retreated from the doorway and was replaced by her father.

"They won't let me in without those glasses, says right on the printout. Kirby Creek is a semi-immersion event. No modern eyewear of any kind allowed," Paul said.

Jenny took a deep breath and concentrated, raising her hands, arms floating out like wands of a divining rod. She closed her eyes and recalled seeing the glasses . . . turning, moving . . . to the shelves next to the table, and opened a fishing tackle box that was full of old buttons, bits of cloth, and various old brass insignias.

"There you are." Jenny plucked up the battered gray case containing the errant spectacles.

Paul exhaled and gratefully squeezed her arm. Then he took the glasses case and hurried off through the kitchen to repack his bag. Jenny turned briefly to the flotsam covering the table. Automatically, her hands reached out to sort the mess. Then she paused, seeing the newspaper section on top of the recycling pile.

The Metro section of yesterday's St. Paul Pioneer Press was folded to an inside page, where a news brief announced: "Pioneer Press Photographer Suspended." She glanced out into the empty kitchen, faintly heard the boops and chimes of Molly logging on to Club Penguin in the den; the scuffs of Paul sorting his gear. She read the short paragraph that she and her husband had discussed last night.

Pioneer Press photographer John Rane was suspended for two weeks yesterday, following a complaint from St. Paul Police Chief, Oscar Talbot. Chief Talbot charged that Rane violated a SWAT team cordon and endangered officers and civilians during a tense standoff last week in West St. Paul . . .

But people were still talking about it. "Did'ya see the picture that guy took . . . ?"

"Hey Jenny," Paul yelled, "we gotta go."

"Coming," Jenny said, dropping the paper back on the pile. Paul was in the den, saying good-bye to Molly. After giving her dad two kisses and a hug, Molly sighed dramatically: "Have fun in the war, Dad."

"We all set?" Jenny asked, following him to the foyer, where he'd repacked his gear.


"You sure?"

Paul nodded and rattled off the checklist: "Forage cap, sack coat, flannel shirt, wool trousers with straps, brogans, wool socks, muslin underwear, gloves, gum blanket, wool blanket, greatcoat, field pack and canteen." He paused to take a breath. "Combo knife fork and spoon, mucket cup." He held up a square black bag with a strap and stuffed it in the duffel. "Haversack."

"What about food?"

"Davey's in charge of the hardtack and slab bacon. Coffee, veggies, stuff like that."

Jenny made a face. "Rifle?"

Paul hefted the 1861 Springfield rifled musket in a canvas case. Then he shoved in a tangle of black leather: belt and straps to which his cartridge box, cap box, and bayonet and scabbard were fastened.

"Cartridges?" Jenny asked, remembering the time her dad went deer hunting without his bullets.

"Eighty," Paul grinned. He'd spent three days in the basement, rolling paper cylinders off a pattern with a half-inch wooden dowel, tying them off with kite string, insisting on explaining the process to her. The way he put in a wad of Kleenex as a substitute for a .58-caliber lead minié bullet. Then he filled the paper tubes with fifty-eight grains of carefully measured black powder and methodically creased and folded the open end with a distinctive flourish, like nineteenth-century origami. Jenny didn't approve of keeping the can of black powder in the house after she'd heard that the stuff could ignite around plastic. Something about friction. She made him keep it in an olive-drab surplus steel box in the utility shed in the backyard.

South of Shiloh
A Thriller
. Copyright © by Chuck Logan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Chuck Logan is the author of eight novels, including After the Rain, Vapor Trail, Absolute Zero, and The Big Law. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War who lives in Stillwater, Minnesota, with his wife and daughter.

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