The First Assassin by John Milller
Publication Date: September 2010
Format: Paperback, 384 pp
Genre: Historical Fiction
(Received for review from Goldberg McDuffie)
Synopsis (Courtesy of Barnes & Noble):
Washington, D.C., 1861: A new president takes office, a nation begins to break apart - and Colonel Charles Rook must risk insubordination to stop a mysterious assassin who prowls a nervous city. He will need the help of an ally he does not even know he has: Portia, a beautiful slave who holds a vital clue, hundreds of miles away.
Mixing actual historical figures with fictionalized characters (a la "Ragtime"), The First Assassin, is as gripping as any espionage thriller, and has the added bonus of being a fascinating look at the political realities of America at the dawn of the Civil War.
The time period just prior to the Civil War was fraught with many uncertainties. Abraham Lincoln had just become president and there were many who were totally against his election. People had such strong opinions on the matter that families were divided in their allegiances, even before the war began. John Miller, author of The First Assassin takes us to Washington, D.C. during this time of division and chaos.
In Miller's book, Charles Rook is charged with the protection of the president, which was no simple task considering the amount of death threats that Abraham Lincoln was receiving on a daily basis. An assassin is stalking Lincoln killing anyone who gets in his way. Rook knows that the only way to catch the killer is find out his identity. A runaway slave named, Portia is the key to finding out who the assassin is. This book is historical fiction combined with nail biting suspense of a great thriller.
I can only imagine the amount of research that went into this book. Miller gives the reader a sense of what Washington was really like in those days, from his descriptions of the buildings to his uncanny ability to blend fiction with fact. The reader will feel like they are riding along with Lincoln, looking over their shoulders to try to distinguish who the killer is. They will feel as if they are hearing the rumors and insinuations of conspiracy right from the mouths of the characters. The book draws you in and makes you feel apart of what's going on.
I liked the book a lot and felt that my penchant for historical fiction was really satisfied in this book. Though many of the characters were based on historical persons, the fictional characters took center stage and really brought "what could have happened" to life. I liked the way the author was able to get across the urgency of the situation and Colonel Rook's deep sense of honor and loyalty to the president. Miller's experience as a political journalist seems to have given his a real edge with this novel. It's a great debut effort from an author I'm sure we are destined to hear much more from.
The First Assassin is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Here is some additional information about the author, John Miller.
John J. Miller was born in Detroit, raised in Michigan and Southern Florida, and attended college in Ann Arbor. He has lived in the Washington, D.C area since 1992. He writes for the National Review, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications.