I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Marked Man by Barbra Hamilton

In this second mystery set in Revolutionary  Boston and featuring Abigail Adams, the Boston tea party has just happened and the colonists are awaiting the king's reprisal.  Abigail notices in the paper that a slave girl named Bathsheba has gone missing, leaving behind a young babe and a toddler.  Abigail knows in her heart that this woman would never leave her children behind and must be dead.  She is soon distracted from this by the arrest of Henry Knox, a bookstore owner and printer of seditious material, for the death of an Army officer and friend of the Governor's.  It is said that Henry and Lucy Fluckner, from the first book, whose maid was a target for a madman, were meeting and in love.  Sir Jonathan Cottrell tried to touch Lucy in a very inappropriate manner, in order to dishonor her into a marriage with him so he could get a lot of land in Maine from her father.  Henry gave him a black eye and threatened to kill him if he touched her again.

Cottrell, then went to Maine to oversee Mr. Fluckner's properties and try to get the people off the land to make way for new people.  The night he got back he was supposed to go to the Fluckner's ball where Lucy's father was going to announce her engagement to him, against her wishes, but he never showed up.  Instead, his body is found beaten and frozen on the ground outside the house the next morning.  Mr. Fluckner, not realizing the gravity of the situation and just wanting Henry away from his daughter, has one of his employees say they saw Henry in the alley that night with the scarf that was found on the scene.  Henry is to be tried in military court after being questioned on the Sons of Liberty and everything he knows, and then likely found guilty of murder and hung.  Luckily the weather is keeping the ship from arriving, giving Abigail Adams and her sleuth in arms (sort of) Lieutenant Coldstone.

Abigail, with the help of Lucy and her chaperone, Mrs. Sandhayes, help to figure out who was in the ball where and when in order to see who could have slipped out of the house to kill Cottrell, but this gets them nowhere.  Cottrell's servant, who didn't go with him to Maine because he was too ill, is found to have been poisoned by two actors from Barbados, where Cottrell was stationed and sullied a girl's reputation, who had committed suicide, and had to buy off her parents.  Needless to say, everywhere he went, Cottrell made enemies, but sorting through them and finding the killer is going to be tough.

As Abigail and Coldstone get closer their lives are threatened.  Coldstone is lured to a secret place and is shot and Abigail interrupts an intruder set on poisoning her food stores.  Cottrell is said to have been seen at a house rented by a mysterious Mr. Elkins, whom no one can find.  An inspection of the house results in the sense that someone has died there, but there is no proof of this, only an empty well in the cellar, used to keep wine cooled.

As time grows close for Henry's departure, Abigail finally realizes who the killer is, but may be too late to save her life or Henry's, as the most ingenious nemesis steps forward and shocks the reader with their identity.  I did not see the ending coming.  This book was a really great read and kept me on the edge of my seat.  As I flew through the last pages of the book, I was hoping for the killer to  be caught and taken in.  The ending will surprise you.  This series really delves into what life was like at that time in history (including the use of a French version of a chamber pot in church because the sermons are so long and having to deal with frozen laundry) and lets a woman, who in today's time could have been a lawyer like her husband John, or anything she wanted to be, but is put into the part of mother and wife.  This series lets her spread her wings and become something extra and lets her use her sharp mind to unmask killers.   By the way, Henry Knox and Lucy Fluckner were real people.  They will marry and have a ton of kids and fight in the war.  Fort Knox and Knoxville is named after Henry.


Honestly, I understand why ladies are never the heroines of anything, they simply cannot get away from their kitchens long enough to rescue anyone.
--Barbara Hamilton (A Marked Man p 281)
Link to Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Marked-Man-Abigail-Adams-Mystery/dp/0425237087/ref=sr_1_17?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1475501257&sr=1-17&keywords=a+marked+man