Lincoln Lit Reviews, June 15, 2012

Carter, Stephen L. The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln. Knopf. Jul. 2012. c.528p. ISBN 9780307272638. $26.95. F

Yale professor Carter sets his fifth thriller (after Jericho’s Fall) in an alternate past in which President Lincoln has survived John Wilkes Booth’s assassination attempt. Two years later, in 1867, the Radical Republicans want the President out. They initiate impeachment proceedings, claiming he has abused his powers and threatened a military dictatorship. Lincoln’s lawyers hire Abigail Canner, a young black graduate of Oberlin College, to clerk for them, then sideline her‚ she is just window dressing for their efforts. But events bring her front and center. Abigail is a wonderful creation; heedless of obstacles, she presses forward. There’s an almost-love story, which works, and a puzzle to be solved and villains to be foiled‚ these work less well. VERDICT Carter writes in the naturalistic school of Theodore Dreiser. His strength lies in capturing the subtle nuances of social interaction between blacks and whites. If he ever crafts a novel that doesn’t depend on a creaky thriller plot for its impetus, it should be a good one‚ he’s a superb social observer. In the meantime, his latest is fun. Carter has many readers, and the topic will attract more. [See Prepub Alert, 1/8/12.]‚ David Keymer. Modesto, CA

Martin, William. The Lincoln Letter. Tor. Aug. 2012. c.448p. ISBN 9780765321985. $25.99. F

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



  1. DL Fowler says:

    Lincoln’s Letter seems to remarkably similar to my novel, Lincoln’s Diary, published in 1/2011. Murder and intrigue over a recently discovered Lincoln diary which may expose the 16th president’s own plot to commit suicide by assassination.