A Killing at Ball's Bluff (Harrison Raines Civil War Mysteries, Book 2)

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9780425178041: A Killing at Ball's Bluff (Harrison Raines Civil War Mysteries, Book 2)

In the sequel to Murder at Manassas, Harrison Raines must risk his life and cross Union and Confederate lines in order to clear his name after he becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a Union colonel.

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Review:

Michael Kilian has set an interesting goal for himself: to chronologically place Virginia gentleman and secret Pinkerton agent Harrison "Harry" Raines in the thick of every major battle of the Civil War and, once there, have him solve a mystery connected thereto. After Harry's fine debut in Murder at Manassas, A Killing at Ball's Bluff sees Harry assigned by the fledgling Secret Service to safeguard the life of Abraham Lincoln's best friend, Col. Edward Baker. But Baker, for reasons unknown, foolishly toys with mortal danger and not surprisingly stops a bullet. As Harry watches in horror from a short remove, a Southern officer appears from the mist, spurring headlong toward the fallen Baker.

Harry loosed a shot, but it was hasty and went wide, even though the mount and rider now seemed to tower over him. The officer yanked the animal to a sudden stop and, ignoring Harry, leaned down over Baker, his horse's chest almost in Harry's face.

There were five quick gunshots from the Confederate's weapon, and then the white horse and rider leaped and dashed away. Harry flung himself down to Baker's side--far, far too late. Every one of the five shots had found its mark. The president's friend was as dead as any man on that field.

This was not war, this was murder--but tell that to the marines. After all, Raines is a Southerner, an intimate of the infamous Southern spy, Rose Greenhow, the son of a plantation-owning slaveholder, and the brother of two Southern officers. And he lives at the National, the Washington hotel favored by secessionists. If you've guessed that, given these tidbits, Raines's Northern handlers are soon smiting their foreheads, yelling "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" you've guessed right. Harry's become a man without a country, wanted by both the North and the South, and it's up to him to solve Baker's murder or suffer the inevitable consequences.

Kilian guides his hero with much skill and ample wit. Major characters are finely limned, dialogue is lively and crisp, battle scenes are as engaging as they are truly frightening. It's a sure thing for John Jakes regulars, historical fans, and Civil War subgenre aficionados--and anyone else who likes their mysteries with a heavy dose of thrills. --Michael Hudson

About the Author:

Michael Kilianis a Washington, DC correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and the author of numerous books, including the Harrison Raines Civil War Mysteries. His family includes early settlers of Virginia and New York, and Union soldiers who died at Fredericksburg and fought at Gettysburg on Little Round Top.

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