The action begins in October of 1875, as Secret Service agents raid the Fulton, Illinois, workshop of master counterfeiter Ben Boyd. Soon after Boyd is hauled off to prison, members of his counterfeiting ring gather in the back room of a smoky Chicago saloon to discuss how to spring their ringleader. Their plan: grab Lincoln's body from its Springfield tomb, stash it in the sand dunes near Lake Michigan, and demand, as a ransom, the release of Ben Boyd -- and $200,000 in cash. From here, the action alternates between the conspirators, the Secret Service agents on their trail, and the undercover agent moving back and forth between them. Along the way readers get glimpses into the inner workings of counterfeiting, grave robbing, detective work, and the early days of the Secret Service. The plot moves toward a wild climax as robbers and lawmen converge at Lincoln's tomb on election night: November 7, 1876.
A dynamic and thrilling tale from critically acclaimed author Steve Sheinkin.
About the Author
Steve Sheinkin is the critically acclaimed author of National Book Award Finalist and Sibert Medal winner Bomb: The Race to Build -- and Steal -- the World's Most Dangerous Weapon; Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War, winner of the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction; and National Book Award Finalist The Port Chicago 50. He resides in Saratoga Springs, New York.
Read an Excerpt
At ten o'clock that night, Whitley was sitting at the desk in his hotel room, writing up a report. There was a gentle knock on the door.
“Come in,” said the chief.
The door opened. A voice sang out, “Good evening, Colonel!”
Whitley turned to his guest. “McCartney!” he shouted, drawing his revolver. “How are you here?”
“Put up your shootin'-iron, Colonel,” McCartney said. “I merely called to pay my respects. I am going back, of course.”
And McCartney really did walk back to prison. Smiling all the way.
Herman Whitley never did figure out how McCartney got out of jail that night. However he did it, the stunt illustrated a serious challenge facing the U.S. government in the 1870s. The Secret Service was absolutely determined to catch counterfeiters and keep them behind bars. But coney men were just as eager to get free -- and they were good at it, too.
Table of Contents
Cast of Characters vi
Prologue: Midnight Escape 1
Chapter 1 The Operative 8
Chapter 2 The Pull 18
Chapter 3 Coney Men vs. the Secret Service 25
Chapter 4 Big Jim 33
Chapter 5 First Try 45
Chapter 6 Boodle Game 66
Chapter 7 Prince of Ropers 75
Chapter 8 The Trap 86
Chapter 9 Last Details 98
Chapter 10 Overnight Train 106
Chapter 11 Election Day 112
Chapter 12 Night at the Monument 122
Chapter 13 Devilish Work 133
Chapter 14 Search Begins 146
Chapter 15 Back to the Hub 156
Chapter 16 Gathering Evidence 166
Chapter 17 Compromise Verdict 176
Epilogue: Final Resting Place? 182
Body Snatcher Bonus Section 199
Glossary of Phrases 208
Source Notes 209