As of January 1866, Major Seth Parker, United States Marine Corps, has been in war-ravaged Mississippi for two months on orders to General T. J. Wood, commander, Department of Mississippi. Colonel Malcolm Byrnes, United States Army and head of General Wood’s special operations department, handpicked Parker to investigate the case of Alan Guthrie, a Treasury operative murdered in the fall of 1865.
Guthrie had been in Mississippi only a short time when person or persons unknown shot him down on the Natchez Trace. More interesting still was that Guthrie’s reason for being in the area was a mystery. Initial inquiries indicate Guthrie had been involved, in some capacity, with the theft of confiscated Confederate cotton, but if Guthrie’s seniors at the Treasury Department knew what he’d been up to in Mississippi, they denied it. Being an old military operative and discouraged by civilian usurpation of the army’s intelligence assets in the face of looming Southern intransigence, Malcolm Byrnes has questions. Somewhat disingenuously, he sends Seth Parker into the wilds of Mississippi to find answers. This foray is not Seth Parker’s first into Mississippi’s hinterland. He had been here during the war—in the spring of ’63, before Grand Gulf, before Bruinsburg...before Vicksburg, but his covert operations at that time had realized only momentary success followed by a precipitate departure with a bullet in his upper chest and desperate struggle for his life, followed by a long and difficult recovery back home in Kentucky. A Southerner by blood and breeding, Seth Parker had kept faith with his people, who believed Kentucky’s interests were best served by remaining in the Union. But despite the duty binding him, the South has his empathy, and though hesitant to admit it, the beautiful woman who saved his life that fateful spring day back in ’63 owns his heart.
Widowed Rebecca Mackey lost not only her young husband and unborn son to the war, but her father, a brother, and a sister. Now her sole surviving sibling is fighting for his life, the victim of a lunatic’s bullet. But the attack on Eli Calhoon and his bride, Alice, soon proves to be only a clue to a mystery that will evolve from a simple case of domestic violence to a tangled web of national intrigue that involves theft and murder in the once hallowed halls of the U. S. Treasury building in Washington. At a time when treason is synonymous with the South, and her people are convenient scapegoats to disguise the misdeeds of ruthless and unprincipled men drunk on power, Becky learns her brother is a suspect Guthrie’s death, and the man who set his sights on Eli Calhoon two months prior is Major Seth Parker. Three years earlier, at a time when some modicum of peace and humanity still held sway over southwest Mississippi, Rebecca Mackey had saved Seth Parker’s life.
As evidence mounts, Seth realizes it was the unexplained actions of the murdered man himself that had led him to suspect Calhoon. Worse yet, the on-going investigation is leading him, reluctantly, to Rebecca Mackey, the woman whose scent and touch, and reassuring voice have haunted his nights for the past three years. Overwhelmed by passion for the woman he loves and anxious over her role in the increasingly bizarre mystery surrounding the murdered agent, he is willing to risk anything to prove her innocent. Locked in a struggle against unprincipled men protected by a corrupt government, Parker needs answers, and Rebecca Mackey has, at least, some of those answers.
Personal experience has proven to Becky the kind of people she’s up against in this matter of the dead agent, and she’s equally aware of their threat to her critically wounded brother. Determined to protect him and all she holds dear against the ruthless forces gathering against her, she is loath to trust a self-proclaimed ally garbed in despicable blue.
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About the Author
Charlsie Russell is a retired United States Navy Commander turned author/publisher. She loves reading, she loves history, and she loves the South. She focuses her writing on historical suspense set in her home state of Mississippi. After seven years of rejection, she woke up one morning and decided she did not have enough years left on this planet to sit back and hope a New York publisher would one day take a risk on her novels. Thus resolved, she expanded her horizons into the publishing realm with the creation of Loblolly Writer's House. In addition to a naval career, writing, and publishing, Ms. Russell has raised five children, who, along with their dad, stick close.