Joshua Speed, the enterprising second son of a wealthy plantation owner, has struck off on his own. But before long he makes a surprising and crucial new acquaintance-a freshly minted lawyer by the name of Abraham Lincoln.
When an orphaned girl from a neighboring town is found murdered and suspicion falls on her aunt, Speed makes it his mission to clear her good name. Of course, he'll need the legal expertise of his unusual new friend. Together, Lincoln and Speed fight to bring justice to their small town. But as more bodies are discovered and the investigation starts to come apart at the seams, there's one question on everyone's lips: Does Lincoln have what it takes to crack his first murder case?
Inspired by actual events from the American frontier, Jonathan Putnam's thrilling debut, These Honored Dead, brings a verve and vigor to the historical mystery genre that readers haven't seen since Caleb Carr's The Alienist.
About the Author
Jonathan F. Putnam is a writer and attorney. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, he is a nationally renowned trial lawyer and avid amateur Lincoln scholar. He currently lives with his family in London, England. This is his first novel.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A very fine book.
3.5 stars "These Honored Dead" is told from the first-person point-of-view of Joshua Speed, who runs a store in a small western town in Illinois. The book begins when a brand new lawyer, Abraham Lincoln, comes into town needing a place to stay and ends up sharing a bed with Speed. Lincoln has a relatively small role until about halfway through the book, and it is thus mostly about Speed, his relationships and activities. Rebecca is a widow in town who has been meeting with Speed, but won't marry him for love- she knows what she needs is money. She has two young charges who are killed one after the other, and she is accused of their murders. Speed is the only one who comes to her defense and tries to solve the murders. He hits a great dead-ends. The story picks up when more evidence comes to light and the trial begins- with Lincoln as the defense attorney. The majority of the case occurs in the courtroom. While interesting, I think it was mostly solved by accident and coincidence, not by detective skills or acumen. I enjoyed the beginning of the book, but found the large majority of the trial pieces to be somewhat dry and many of them did not add information to the case for the reader, so I feel that this could have been shortened. I would have liked more of the interactions outside of the case between Lincoln and Speed- it's known historically that they were great friends, so it would have been nice to see their relationship build. I felt throughout the book that they were like strangers who happened to see each other for this case. The historical context at the end was helpful, and I wish the story had been more embellished. It's still engaging, however, and I read all the way to the satisfying end where the correct person is caught/we learn what actually happened. Please note that I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through netgalley.
I really enjoyed this book, well written and the history was great, I look forward to more from this author.