What were Abraham Lincoln's innermost thoughts about slavery during the early days of the Civil War? And what if he had written them down in a diary that might just exist today? Martin's fourth thriller (after City of Dreams) featuring Peter Fallon and Evangeline Carrington details their efforts to keep the diary from unscrupulous individual who would corrupt Lincoln's words to further their own aims. As always, there is action as well as solid history as the novel jumps from today back to Washington during the Civil War. VERDICT While this new work is rich with the historical detail that Martin's readers have come to expect from his books, the premise is weak. Why would anyone want to kill either to stop or to encourage the publication of Lincoln's evolving stand on emancipation? Regardless, followers of the series will love the book, and newcomers will find that it stands on its own quite well.—Robert Conroy, Warren, MI
Martin serves up the fifth book in his adventure series featuring antiquities expert Peter Fallon, in which he searches for Abraham Lincoln's lost diary. In previous outings, Fallon has always been embroiled in plots involving historically significant objects: a Paul Revere-crafted tea set (1980's Back Bay), a lost Shakespeare play (2003's Harvard Yard), an early draft of the country's founding document (2007's The Lost Constitution) and a stash of 18th-century bonds (2010's City of Dreams). The tradition continues in this latest installment, which opens with the discovery of a letter written by Lincoln on April 14, 1865, shortly before he was shot at Ford's Theatre. In it, Lincoln alludes to another item, which turns out to be a heretofore unknown diary of the late president, which includes his personal thoughts on freeing the slaves several months before he issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Fallon travels to Washington, D.C., to locate the priceless diary, and he, along with travel writer Evangeline Carrington and other allies, finds that some dangerous people are also looking for it. The action pings effectively back and forth between the 1860s and the present day to fill in details of the mystery. In the Civil War-era sections, Union Lt. Halsey Hutchinson finds Lincoln's misplaced notebook in April 1862, but it is stolen from him before he can return it to the president, and he soon finds himself wrongly accused of murder. Martin is a skillful storyteller, simultaneously packing his book with engaging and well-researched historical detail while also keeping the action moving. Newcomers to the series may be put in mind of the Nicolas Cage-starring National Treasure films, and these books share their history-mystery spirit--though Martin's series is far more thoughtful and complex. A satisfying historical mystery.
“What an irresistible combinationa sparkling mystery, intriguing characters, and lively history. I am a huge William Martin fan, but The Lincoln Letter is my absolute favorite.” Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Team of Rivals
“The Lincoln Letter is an engrossing mystery, a masterful blend of the past and present. The author captures Civil War Washington, D.C., Lincoln, and other historic figures in fine detail and historical accuracy. The narrative is a compelling read that moves deftly, back and forth, from the 1860s to modern times. The book should appeal to Civil War buffs and readers of mystery novels.” Jeffry D. Wert, Civil War Historian and author of The Sword of Lincoln
“William Martin is quite simply the best writer of historical suspense in the business today, and The Lincoln Letter is sensational reading even by Martin's lofty standards.” Michael Palmer, 16-time New York Times bestselling author of Oath of Office
“Highly imaginative, beautifully written, devilishly exciting, this explosive new thriller will excite Martin's legions of fans and win him many, many more.” Ralph Peters, New York Times bestselling author of Cain at Gettysburg
“If you thought you knew a lot about the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln, this book will change your mind. Bill Martin has woven history and mystery into a riveting narrative you can't stop reading.” Thomas Fleming, bestsellling author of The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers
“An electrifying novel of Abraham Lincoln's freeing of the slaves, the violence that ensued and how we came to be the people we are today. Shocking, terrifying, exciting, insightful.” Larry Bond, New York Times bestselling author of Exit Plan