The Lincoln Conspiracy: A Novel

( 9 )

Overview

A nation shattered by its president's murder
Two diaries that reveal the true scope of an American conspiracy
A detective determined to bring the truth to light, no matter what it costs him

From award-winning journalist Timothy L. O'Brien comes a gripping historical thriller that poses a provocative question: What if the plot to assassinate President Lincoln was wider and ...

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The Lincoln Conspiracy

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Overview

A nation shattered by its president's murder
Two diaries that reveal the true scope of an American conspiracy
A detective determined to bring the truth to light, no matter what it costs him

From award-winning journalist Timothy L. O'Brien comes a gripping historical thriller that poses a provocative question: What if the plot to assassinate President Lincoln was wider and more sinister than we ever imagined?

In late spring of 1865, as America mourns the death of its leader, Washington, D.C., police detective Temple McFadden makes a startling discovery. Strapped to the body of a dead man at the B&O Railroad station are two diaries, two documents that together reveal the true depth of the Lincoln conspiracy. Securing the diaries will put Temple's life in jeopardy--and will endanger the fragile peace of a nation still torn by war.

Temple's quest to bring the conspirators to justice takes him on a perilous journey through the gaslit streets of the Civil War--era capital, into bawdy houses and back alleys where ruthless enemies await him in every shadowed corner. Aided by an underground network of friends--and by his wife, Fiona, a nurse who possesses a formidable arsenal of medicinal potions--Temple must stay one step ahead of Lafayette Baker, head of the Union Army's spy service. Along the way, he'll run from or rely on Edwin Stanton, Lincoln's fearsome secretary of war; the legendary Scottish spymaster Allan Pinkerton; abolitionist Sojourner Truth; the photographer Alexander Gardner; and many others.

Bristling with twists and building to a climax that will leave readers gasping, The Lincoln Conspiracy offers a riveting new account of what truly motivated the assassination of one of America's most beloved presidents--and who participated in the plot to derail the train of liberty that Lincoln set in motion.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Huffington Post editor O’Brien (Bad Bet) fails to make the most of a promising premise in his fiction debut, a thriller set in the spring of 1865. When Washington, D.C., police detective Temple McFadden retrieves a package carried by a courier he knows shortly after the man’s throat is cut at the B&O train station, McFadden is stunned to discover that it contains two diaries—one written by the just widowed Mary Todd Lincoln, and the other the apparent work of John Wilkes Booth himself. A cursory reading of both suggests that there was more to the plot to murder the president than the official account would have the public believe. The policeman finds himself caught between powerful competing forces, each with their own reasons for getting access to the documents. O’Brien offers an intriguing theory for the motive behind the assassination, but readers will find more suspense in George O’Toole’s similarly themed The Cosgrove Report. Agent: Andrew Blauner, Blauner Books Literary. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
Praise for The Lincoln Conspiracy
 
“History as a dangerous, inventive game . . . fascinating.”—Martin Cruz Smith
 
“A notable fiction debut with an appealing detective hero and plenty of action. It gets off to a fast start and never stops.”—Library Journal
 
“A historical puzzle as labyrinthine and grandiose as Scheherazade’s tales . . . As clever as Sherlock Holmes, as wily as Pendergast in Preston and Child’s series, and wickedly funny on top of it all, the irresistible McFadden is due to return in a sequel—thank goodness!”—Booklist (starred review)
 
“[A] fast-paced, well-conceived adventure . . . There is nothing more fun than losing oneself in O’Brien’s rich and riotous mixture of reimagination and fact.”—Historical Novels Review
 
“Gripping . . . The history and overall arc of the novel are superb.”—Associated Press
Library Journal
We know why Lincoln was assassinated, right? Wrong, says O'Brien, national editor of the Huffington Post, who has teased a theory out of the historical record and turned it into a thriller. When a friend is slain at the B&O railroad station, Det. Temple McFadden finds two diaries in his pocket: one belonging to Mary Todd Lincoln and one to John Wilkes Booth.
Library Journal
Was Lincoln's assassination by John Wilkes Booth as straightforward as it seems? Or was it part of a larger conspiracy? Who wanted Lincoln out of the way? Temple McFadden witnesses a murder at a train station and finds two journals secreted on the dead man's body. One belongs to Mary Todd Lincoln, whose journal entries hint at hidden reasons for her husband's murder. The second is Booth's, which contains messages in code. Pursued by enemies on all sides, Temple doesn't know whom to trust. VERDICT O'Brien, national editor at the Huffington Post, makes a notable fiction debut with an appealing detective hero and plenty of action. It gets off to a fast start and never stops. The ending is fuzzy but paves the way for a promised sequel. In the wake of Seth Grahame-Smith's Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Stephen L. Carter's The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln, and William Martin's The Lincoln Letter, the time is ripe for a good conspiracy novel about the Lincoln assassination.—David Keymer, Modesto, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Huffington Post national editor O'Brien (TrumpNation, 2005) ventures into fiction in this historical thriller, featuring an 1865 detective digging into the murder of Abraham Lincoln. Metropolitan Police Inspector Temple McFadden sees a messenger get his throat slit at the B&O Railroad station in Washington, D.C. Temple takes a package containing a journal and a diary from the man's corpse. It turns out that these are no ordinary finds: One is the diary of Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of the recently slain president, while the other was written by Lincoln's murderer, John Wilkes Booth, and includes mysterious coded messages. McFadden immediately finds himself targeted by dangerous men who are after the package, and he enlists the help of several friends in an investigation that reveals an undiscovered plot behind Lincoln's assassination. O'Brien's fiction debut joins other recent Lincoln-related historical novels, such as Stephen L. Carter's alternate-history tale The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln and William Martin's The Lincoln Letter, a somewhat similar mystery that revolves around a lost Lincoln diary. O'Brien has delivered a serviceable thriller, even if he often leans a bit too heavily on brutal violence to shake things up. He has clearly put in a fair amount of research here, and he revels in the historical details he scatters liberally throughout the narrative; indeed, he occasionally drifts into history-lecture territory. That said, O'Brien does make clever use of real-life historical figures throughout, including such notables as Mrs. Lincoln, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, private detective Allan Pinkerton, photographer Alexander Gardner and journalist Noah Brooks, among many others. A fair historical mystery that will most interest dedicated fans of Lincolniana.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780449012130
  • Publisher: Books on Tape, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/18/2012
  • Format: MP3
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Ships to U.S.and APO/FPO addresses only.

Meet the Author

Timothy L. O'Brien is the executive editor of the Huffington Post, where he edited the 2012 Pulitzer Prize--winning series about severely wounded war veterans, "Beyond the Battlefield." Previously, he was an editor and reporter at The New York Times. There, he helped to lead a team of Times reporters that was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in Public Service in 2009 for coverage of the financial crisis. The Times series that emerged from that work, "The Reckoning," was also a winner of a Loeb Award for Distinguished Business Journalism. O'Brien lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife and two children.

Timothy L. O'Brien is the executive editor of the Huffington Post, where he edited the 2012 Pulitzer Prize--winning series about severely wounded war veterans, "Beyond the Battlefield." Previously, he was an editor and reporter at The New York Times. There, he helped to lead a team of Times reporters that was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in Public Service in 2009 for coverage of the financial crisis. The Times series that emerged from that work, "The Reckoning," was also a winner of a Loeb Award for Distinguished Business Journalism. O'Brien lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife and two children.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 20, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A Good Summer Read

    This is a very entertaining book that revolves around the appearance of two diaries soon after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. One diary belongs to Mary Lincoln, the President's widow. The other is an encoded diary that belonged to John Wilkes Booth, the man who murdered President Lincoln. Both diaries contain information which could reveal truths not only about Lincoln, but also about those who plotted to kill him. They have the potential to rewrite what we know about history. Washington Metropolitan Police Detective Temple McFadden inadvertently secures the diaries while interrupting a fight between two gangs of unknown thugs. It turns out that both are after the same prize, although they have very different reasons for wanting the diaries. Temple starts to decode the Booth diary. In order to stay one step ahead of the two factions vying for control of the diaries, Temple joined by his wife, Fiona, must enlist the help of various friends, many of whom are recognizable historical characters. There is plenty of action and great descriptions of Washington, D.C. in the aftermath of the Lincoln assassination. A very good summer read. The book was provided for review by Library Thing and the well read folks at Ballantine Books.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 28, 2013

    This is a must read. Also Bill O'Reilly's Killing Lincoln is a m

    This is a must read. Also Bill O'Reilly's Killing Lincoln is a must read. I am a history buff and home is Tenn. I do not believe J.W.B. was brought out of the burned barn. A "body" was but was burned beyond recognition. I think JWB lived out his days in Cuba. A man died in 1903 claiming to be JWB. Had Lincoln not been killed my South would not have gone thru the reconstruction and carpetbaggers it did. A hugh loss.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 11, 2013

    This Book Went Nowhere

    It definitely did not live up to the hype. The members of our book club all agreed the author is too taken with the minutia of his research. He overwhelms the reader with details, antiquated idioms and vernacular, and streetmap locations that not only fail to move the story along, but actually distract your attention from the plot. We decided he, too, must have been distracted because the plot and characters were weak. The ending barely qualified as one. We would not recommend this book to anyone.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I'm a bit of a history buff. It isn't that know every date and t

    I'm a bit of a history buff. It isn't that know every date and the details of every era. It's that I WANT to know all of those things. Maybe buff isn't the right word...maybe history fan would be better.

    Because of my love of all things historical I was skeptical going into this book. A retelling of the murder of President Lincoln? Hmm, I don't know about that.

    Color me surprised! This was a great book. The characters were believable, the plot twists kept me guessing and there was plenty of suspense. I enjoyed the historical characters that pepper the story. They were inserted into the tale in an authentic way.

    The protagonist, Temple McFadden, was flawed and I liked him all the more for it. I enjoyed reading about his wife Fiona as well. She's a strong woman who doesn't need a man to rescue her every five minutes.

    If you like history, action, suspense and fine story telling you really ought to read this book.

    Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 26, 2012

    Did John Wilkes Booth act alone? Who was really behind Lincoln


    Did John Wilkes Booth act alone? Who was really behind Lincoln’s assassination? What about Mary Lincoln’s supposed “madness”? These questions and more are what set Temple McFadden and friends on what may well be a life-ending quest for some of them.
    The Lincoln Conspiracy is a very well-researched book that throws up a few theories to make us think in a year when there seems to be a much-renewed interest in Abraham Lincoln and his life. In this novel he doesn’t really appear as this is after the assassination. Temple, a police detective, acquires two small books: One is Mary Lincoln’s diary and one is mostly in code. Mrs. Lincoln’s diary is interesting and reveals more about her husband than was previously known. The other book? Well, that’s the one that is causing Temple all his problems.
    Temple’s friends and his wife decide to act. Fiona is to return the personal diary to Mrs. Lincoln. Temple, his friend Augustus (a freed slave) and more work to decipher the code using a system called the Vigenere table. What they find is most troubling.
    This book would make an excellent gift for the Lincoln fan. It shows a lot about post-Lincoln Washington and it’s surrounding area. It also shows the character of the people living there, which is more important. If you’re a history buff at all, you’ve got to read this.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 25, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I really didn't hesitate and all when asked to join the blog to

    I really didn't hesitate and all when asked to join the blog tour for this book. I've always been a fan of Lincoln and I was curious how this might put a spin on his assassination.

    To be honest, this was a rather dry historical fiction. I didn't mind the characters, in fact I found Temple to be absolutely fascinating. I loved his background. He's not originally from American but he takes his dedication to his country seriously. Plus, I loved that he was smart as a fox and managed to outwit so many people in this book. I often didn't know what he was going to do next. I also loved that he had so many people that were willing to go the extra mile for him. They didn't need an explanation to justify it, they believed in him and what he stood for. Granted their cause was just and I think when the truth begins to trickle out they were even more willing to help.

    I found the truth used in this book to be interesting. I guess I don't know much about the building of the railroads at the time to say whether its a believable cause or not. I know the expansion was important and whoever owned the way to get there was in a dangerous position of control. I think I just expected a much deeper conspiracy. But, people have killed for less.

    I think I found this book dry because we spend a lot of time listening to characters talk. There were times, I would just skim over pages of dialogue because it felt like it didn't deepen the story any. It felt like it took a really long time to get to the point. I often felt this was more of a historical mystery than anything. Trying to piece together who was on who's side. Who was the mystery person that all the coded notes kept referring too. In the end I was a little disappointed.

    So really, it was just an average addition to the many book about Lincoln, both fiction and non fiction. Maybe those who understand Lincoln's involvement in the railroad will like this more than I did.

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  • Posted November 18, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Temple McFadden is a Washington Police Detective with a lame leg

    Temple McFadden is a Washington Police Detective with a lame leg but a feisty spirit. His story begins with a trip to the train station to pick up a package, a trip that will help him earn some well-needed money. What he witnesses instead is a suspicious murder and his reaction is to grab a package secreted on the victim’s body. Here begins super trouble for Temple, his wife Fiona, and numerous other characters who will be chased, brutally attacked and escape death numerous times.

    Why? It turns out the package Temple grabbed is Mary Todd Lincoln’s diary and it contains secrets and hints of a conspiracy which would explain why Booth shot Lincoln and more! Was assassination the main goal? What exactly was the reason for Lincoln’s death if not the Civil War and the emancipation of slaves? Who were the most powerful men in Lincoln’s Cabinet and in Washington and what were their designs as well as actions mean to succeed no matter what the consequence?

    In addition to the slowly enfolding plot which includes a secret code and more shoot-out close calls – perhaps a bit too much, O’Brien introduces the readers to the ambience of the time through such scenes as medical conditions for those wounded warriors of the Civil War. We discover the primitive but successful treatments that saved and also ended lives. We also meet men loyal to Lincoln who worked for him or his Cabinet members but who had sideline plans for becoming wealthy after the Civil War ended. And there are the African-Americans who were loyal to the Union and now assist Temple in his drive to discover the truth, even more so after they are brutally treated in the most demeaning fashion possible. Their protection and belief in Temple is ennobling, to say the least, and inspiringly credible.

    Mary Todd Lincoln is portrayed in a most unexpected way which one may learn on doing research about her but which doesn’t prepare the reader for the self-absorbed, whining, suspicious and fearful woman who has more comfort from an unexpected source, one that stirs the reader to compassion.

    Whether or not you buy the final answers, The Lincoln Conspiracy is an interesting, action-packed story, giving the reader a fine sense of the culture, divisions, and political realities of Abraham Lincoln’s world! A worthy political thriller or conspiracy theory centered on an assassination without closure to this day!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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