Reviews for Hour of Peril : The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War


Booklist Reviews 2013 January #1
*Starred Review* Some of President Lincoln's associates and some historians have questioned if the supposed conspiracy to assassinate him upon his arrival in Baltimore was serious. Stashower has no doubt that the plot was real, and he has written a convincing and well-researched chronicle of it and the successful effort to thwart it. His story has the necessary elements of a successful historical thriller, including a determined assassin; a wily, intrepid detective; a serpentine plot; and, in Lincoln, an important and sympathetic potential victim. Stashower seems determined to lay out the painstaking details of the plot; although it provides credibility, it sometimes acts as a drag on the narrative. Still, the stakes are high, so the story has a built-in urgency and excitement. The detective, the soon-to-be-famous Allan Pinkerton, is a relentless and clever sleuth, and the chief conspirator, a Baltimore barber named Ferrandini, is a formidable adversary. Despite some slow moments, the book generally succeeds as both a historical inquiry and a detective story. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Library Journal Reviews 2013 January #1

The first known attempt to murder Abraham Lincoln occurred in February 1861 during his railway journey from Springfield, IL, to Washington, DC, for his inauguration. Stashower (The Beautiful Cigar Girl) details how Allan Pinkerton, head of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, managed to stop a band of rebels bent on killing the president-elect in Baltimore. Stashower describes a campaign-weary, nonchalant, and somewhat incautious Abraham Lincoln, traveling east toward the presidency. The author records him arriving safely in DC after stealing through Maryland's darkened countryside and Baltimore's precincts as "a thief in the night"--at Pinkerton's behest, but in the process forfeiting a measure of political stature to his detractors, who questioned his courage and fitness for office. The tale builds methodically before shifting into dramatic mode as Pinkerton, in fewer than two weeks, uncovers and quashes the would-be assassins' designs, assisted by agent Kate Warne, the leader of Pinkerton's female undercover unit. VERDICT Stashower's character-driven narrative and lively writing style reveal the finely honed skills of an accomplished mystery writer. Recommended.--John Carver Edwards, Univ. of Georgia Libs., Cleveland

[Page 97]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 October #2

John Wilkes Booth succeeded in 1865, but the first major plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln unfolded in 1861 in anticipation of the then president-elect's railway trip to Washington, D.C., for his inauguration. Stashower (The Beautiful Cigar Girl) explains how Allan Pinkerton, a temperamental Scottish cooper turned "fierce and incorruptible lawman" and founder of the Pinkerton Agency, sought to infiltrate and obfuscate a murderous group led by Cypriano Ferrandini, an outspoken Italian barber in Baltimore. Interwoven with the tale of Pinkerton and company's efforts to foil what would become known as the Baltimore Plot, Stashower offers a rich portrait of a resolute but weary Lincoln as he makes his way, both politically and physically, to the White House. As everyone knows, he arrived without incident, but while he saved his skin, he lost some respect for stealing into the capital "like a thief in the night," as one newspaper put it. The book starts out slow, but once Stashower lets the Pinkerton operatives loose, their race against time as Lincoln's train speeds toward Maryland makes for an enthralling page-turner that is sure to please true crime, thriller, and history fans. Photos. (Feb.).

[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

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