Ann McMillan's Dead March is the first in what promises to be a series of Civil War-era mysteries as appealing as Anne Perry's historical procedurals. Narcissa Power, a young Virginia widow consigned to a dismal existence in the country home of her sister-in-law, receives an urgent summons from family friends of her beloved brother, Charley. Shortly after she rushes to his side, he dies of a disease that should have caused only a minor infection. The mystery of his death is compounded when Narcissa finds a fragment of a half-burned letter from Charley that someone has hidden in her Bible. Wanting to do right by her brother and avoid returning to the doldrums of her country existence, Narcissa plunges into the turmoil of Richmond in the days between Fort Sumter and the first great battle of the Civil War. A colorful collection of plausible characters gather in the parlors and back alleys of Richmond--a British journalist, a dashing but arrogant young doctor, a cruel overseer, and Judah Daniel, a freedwoman who is also the local herbalist and "conjure woman." Each will be a part of the eventual unraveling of the mystery. |
Against the background of a beautiful city in turmoil, clues come fast and furious. The players converge at the hospital and secrets are shaken loose, leading to surprising and satisfying denouement. But relationships are only beginning to develop among the cast, and the reader must wait for McMillan's next volume to learn the outcome. The credible detail and authenticity of setting and scene will captivate those with a renewed interest in the American Civil War, which has been aroused by Cold Mountain and Ken Burns's PBS series.
Source: Barbara Schlieper, Amazon.com.
A dazzling debut that will appeal to Civil War buffs as well as fans of mysteries, medical thrillers, and historical fiction
Dead March is the first in an exciting new mystery series that takes place during the Civil War. It is the spring of 1861. Though the War Between the States is in its infancy, Richmond, Virginia, is not free of violent death, as two astute and courageous women from opposite ends of society discover when a grave is robbed, yielding the murdered body of a young slave woman. The silk scarf left carelessly with her body leads to suspects from every echelon of Richmond society--and to more deaths. Narcissa Powers, a young white widow, begins to investigate and is soon aided by Judah Daniel, a free black herbalist and conjure woman. As the War's casualties begin to pour into the city and the "Dead March" echoes through the streets, the mystery deepens, and Narcissa and Judah must risk their lives to find the killer--or killers--and save the life of an innocent child. With its well-paced suspense and fascinating characters, Dead March is both an elegant mystery and a moving evocation of the Old South.