The Lucifer Contract: An Historical Mystery

Overview

In November 1864, Manhattan mirrors the tumult of the Civil War. Bowery toughs rub shoulders with fashionable theatergoers, crippled veterans beg on the streets, and runaway slaves huddle in Underground Railroad safe houses. Last year's Draft Riots tore the city apart; many fear another uprising on Election Day. But a far greater threat hangs, unseen, over New York. Eight men from Kentucky - one barely old enough to shave - have signed a Confederate blood pact. Its code name is Lucifer; its mission is to burn ...
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New York 1998 Hardcover First Edition. 268 pages. Hardcover with dustjacket and plastic mylar covering. Like New. FICTION. In November 1864, Manhattan mirrors the tumult of the ... Civil War. Bowery toughs rub shoulders with fashionable theatergoers, crippled veterans beg on the streets, and runaway slaves huddle in the Underground Railroad safe houses. Last year's Draft Riots tore the city apart; many fear another uprising on Election Day. But a far greater threat hangs, unseen, over New York. Eight men from Kentucky-one barely old enough to shave-have signed a Confederate blood pact. Its code name is Lucifer; its mission is to burn this Yankee town to the ground, "Engrossing."-The Washington Post Book World (Key Words: Historical Fiction, Maan Meyers, United States Civil War, 1864). Read more Show Less

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Overview

In November 1864, Manhattan mirrors the tumult of the Civil War. Bowery toughs rub shoulders with fashionable theatergoers, crippled veterans beg on the streets, and runaway slaves huddle in Underground Railroad safe houses. Last year's Draft Riots tore the city apart; many fear another uprising on Election Day. But a far greater threat hangs, unseen, over New York. Eight men from Kentucky - one barely old enough to shave - have signed a Confederate blood pact. Its code name is Lucifer; its mission is to burn this Yankee town to the ground. Already, one of the men, cutting a Union spy's throat, has left a Lucifer matchstick clenched between the unfortunate's teeth. Infiltrating the city, the conspirators draw into their orbit many an unsuspecting citizen - plus a handful who glimpse something amiss. One of these is Pete Tonneman, who can't resist a glass of whiskey or a good story. When barmaid Meg Clancy reports an overheard conversation, Pete finds himself on the scent of a rumored plot and a string of seemingly random corpses - each dispatched with a slashed throat and marked with a matchstick between the teeth. It is a trail that forks often, and dangerously, for Pete and his informants, such as stagestruck Meg, who mingles with theater folk, including the notorious rake John Wilkes Booth; flamboyant, Madonna-faced prostitute Claudia Albert; and Patrick Duff, the Union veteran who will cross paths again with the Rebel devil who half blinded him in battle. Spurred by General Sherman's burning of Atlanta, the Lucifer plot moves relentlessly toward its target. And joining his Tonneman relatives' police expertise with his own journalist's savvy, Pete must pick apart the tangle of politics and greed, firebrand insanity and cold-blooded butchery, that sweeps the city toward an unimaginable inferno.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553097078
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/1/1997
  • Pages: 268
  • Product dimensions: 6.27 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Maan Meyers is the pseudonym of husband-and-wife writing team Martin and Annette Meyers.  Annette Meyers is the author of seven Smith and Wetzon mysteries.  Martin Meyers is the author of five books in the Patrick Hardy series.  Together they have written The Dutchman, The Kingsbridge Plot, The High Constable, The Dutchman's Dilemma, and The House on Mulberry Street.  They live in New York City.
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Read an Excerpt

September 17th, 1862.

Near Sharpsburg, Maryland.


Bullets cut the legs out from under the man to his left and shattered the head of the man to his right.

Duff kept moving forward, the 69th's banner flying.

Suddenly, out of the dust and smoke, a Reb officer appeared, brandishing a saber in his left hand. The blade glistened red in the autumn sun. The Reb was smiling, so happy was he at the scent of blood, and the chance to kill. It was clear to Duff that it was his particular blood this enemy was seeking.

The Reb was coming directly at him, his saber point aiming for Duff's throat.

You'll be a stuck pig, Duff told himself. Run, you fool. But his feet refused to swerve.

The two advanced, saber to flag.

With a terrifying Rebel yell, the officer thrust his blade. Using the flagstaff as a spear, Duff parried the thrust and jabbed hard at his opponent's head with the butt of the pole. His enemy, bloodied, foundered, falling away. Limbs twisted, he sprawled like death, his left hand still gripping his saber, his gray hat on the trampled, bloody ground.

Duff noted the man's gory face and twisted limbs without passion. But he was mesmerized by the Reb's full head of jet black hair which was divided neatly by a white streak straight down the center.

Duff crossed himself. The Devil. I've fought the Devil and I've won.

But the Devil now hurled his saber at him. Duff parried again, but not in time.


Price, John. Lieutenant, Tenth Kentucky Cavalry. Army of the Confederacy. Wounded in head and left leg. Morgan's Raider. Paymaster,Lucifer.

November 1st, 1864, Tuesday, midafternoon.

David Corwin was compact, small in stature. He set his newspaper aside on the seat next to him and moved down the aisle to the door, balancing himself against the rocking with his hand on the seat backs. At the door he stretched, as if that were his only purpose for rising. When the train rolled into Catskill Station, he slipped casually out the door.

At the back of the car a second man, just as casually, got to his feet, adjusted his hat, and followed Corwin. The man jumped to the gravel. Except for the stationmaster with his red flag, he was the only one to be seen on the ground. Where'd the little bastard go? A quick gust snatched his broad-brimmed black hat, spinning it in the air, then slamming it to the gravel.

"Damn," the man said, retrieving the hat, but still seeking his prey. He dusted his hat on his long coat and squared it on his head.

The train whistle wailed, shattering the quiet pastoral scene. The conductor, master of his domain, blew his own sharp whistle. "Board! All aboard for Manhattan, Thirtieth Street Station." In this manner, the train left Catskill Station. "Next stop, Germantown. Germantown, next stop."

The train picked up speed. The man who had followed Corwin swung himself aboard. After a quick inspection of his hat and coat and the knife sheathed in his boot, he strode down the aisle, plucking up the newspaper Corwin had left, and continued to his own seat at the back of the car.

He didn't notice the man in the herringbone mackinaw and spectacles.

And neither man saw the youth who was watching them both.


In a ditch, not three yards from the tracks, among a patch of yellow weeds, Corwin lay, legs bent like broken twigs, throat cut from ear to ear. A Lucifer friction match was jammed between his clamped teeth.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2002

    Where's the mystery?

    To succeed, this book needed to accomplish two things. It needed to seamlessly blend fact and fiction, and it needed a central hero the reader could care about. Regretably, it fails in both regards. The real story of the plot to burn New York reads far more suspenseful than this attempted yawn- I mean, yarn. And as a reader I kept searching for a chracter to care about - a drunkard at a bar and a barmaid who stumbles upon a secret? How about a strong character with goals that get them into trouble? And finally, nothing was more irritating than the constant use of the word "lucifer" to describe a match. I suppose the authors found the word during their research and thought it would draw readers into the context of the story - it didn't.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2000

    Too Little Research

    I applaud the authors' efforts, but they should have done more research before using the real people they did in their plot. For one thing, their murder victim in real life testified against Robert Kennedy, the only man tried in the affair. Kennedy's own character was not as indicated. Considerable information about him and the plot is available in Nat Brandt's THE MAN WHO TRIED TO BURN NEW YORK ISBN 1583483462. In using Civil War history, it pays to tie your research down thoroughly. There are so MANY sources, and some of them are even available mass market.

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