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Brothers of Cain Mass Market Paperback – September 3, 2002

12 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Cain Trilogy Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Virginia Peninsula campaign of 1862 serves as backdrop for Monfredo's latest Seneca Falls mystery, a smooth blend of romance, history and suspense, though familiarity with the previous book in the series, Sisters of Cain (2000), is essential to a full understanding of the action here. Series heroine Bronwen Llyr, a Union spy, faces the challenge of saving her brother, Seth, after he's captured by Confederates and confined in Richmond's notorious Libby Prison. Recognized as Bronwen's brother, he's accused of spying and sentenced to hang. Seth's attempted rescue forms the spine of the plot, which also hinges on the safe movement of English tobacco from Richmond warehouses. In the meantime, the other Llyr sister, Kathryn, a nurse in the Sanitary Commission assigned to the Union army, goes about her grisly duties in field hospitals where amputations are almost the only surgery. As the sisters move through the ubiquitous mud between Union and Confederate territory, they encounter various historical figures, both major and minor, who add to the authentic background. The author tends to simplify the business of spying, and her pacing can be uneven in particular, she crowds too much into the novel's final 50 pages (in which the resourceful Bronwen's ability to throw a knife from a distance to pin an assailant's arm comes in handy). But if there are some hasty explanations and unresolved issues at the end, Monfredo's fans can look forward to further enlightenment in the next installment of this generally well-crafted series with a provocative feminist take on the Civil War era.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Miriam Grace Monfredo is a former librarian and a historian. This is her eighth Seneca Falls Historical Mystery. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; Reprint edition (September 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425186385
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425186381
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,161,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Miriam Grace Monfredo lives in western New York State, the scene of her critically acclaimed Seneca Falls Historical Mystery Series. She is a historian and a former librarian. Monfredo's first novel, Seneca Falls Inheritance, Agatha nominated for Best First Mystery Novel 1992, is set against the backdrop of the first Women's Rights Convention held in 1848. Since then she has written eight more novels that focus on the history of America and the evolution of women and minority rights. Her latest book, Children of Cain, is the third volume of a Civil War trilogy set in Washington D.C. and Virginia, during the Union's 1862 Peninsula Campaign.

Monfredo's Brothers of Cain was awarded the 2001 Herodotus as the year's Best Historical Mystery. She is the recipient of the 2000 Career Achievement Award for Historical Mystery Writing by Romantic Times. Her second book, North Star Conspiracy, was chosen for the statewide 2002 "Alaska Reads A Book" program; it was also chosen by the Alaska Association of School Librarians for the 2002-03 "Battle of the Books" motivational reading program . North Star Conspiracy was also chosen for the 2005 Brookline Reads The Same Book in Massachusetts, and by the 2005-2006 Central New York Reads Consortium.

The Voice of Youth Advocacy selected her fifth book, The Stalking Horse, as one of 1998's best adult mysteries for young adults. She was the recipient of the 1996 Writing In Rochester Award presented by Writers & Books.

Her short fiction has appeared in magazines and anthologies,including two Best of the Year collections, and she is the co-editor of two historical mystery anthologies.
Monfredo occasionally teaches writing workshops at Rochester, NY's literary locus, Writers & Books. She lives on historic Irondequoit Creek with three dogs and two cats, and hosts a motley gang of itinerant mallard ducks.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 22, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read all of Monfredo's book. In my opinion, the best ones focused on Glynis and Seneca Falls although Glynis' trip to the south was an excellent view of plantation life from a northern woman's point of view.
I guess I haven't reviewed Brothers of Cain, though. It's hard because I can't help comparing these later books with Blackwater Spirits and Northstar Conspiracy. I'd like to see Monfredo background the nieces and get back to her original characters, who were much, much more believable and even more likable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on September 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In 1862, the War Between the States turns ugly as members of the same family may be fighting on different sides. This is not the case for the Llyr family who is staunchly pro-union. Kathryn is a nurse in the Volunteer Sanitary Commission, giving aid to anyone who is wounded. Her sister Bronwyn is an espionage agent working for the Treasury Department. They are both watching the wounded depart when a union private tells them that the Confederacy captured their brother Seth.

Bronwyn is determined to free her brother before they can connect him to her and hang him as a spy. Their superiors, including President Lincoln, recognize her determination and will let her try to free her brother while she completes her real assignment in Richmond where her brother is being kept. She has to somehow get the tobacco the English and French paid for out of confederate hands and into the buyers. This is needed so that the two European nations will think twice before enlisting on the side of the Confederacy. Spies, double agents, and treachery surround Bronwyn as she tries to do her jobs while keeping her skin intact.

Civil War buffs and fans of historical mysteries will not want to miss BROTHERS OF CAIN, a novel that stirs both the blood and the intellect. It's obvious that Miriam Grace Monfredo has done meticulous research in order to give a realistic depiction of this phase of the war. Readers will believe they are part of the action in this historical espionage thriller.

Harriet Klausner
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Siobhan Noble on October 3, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the second installment in Monfredo's 'Cain' series which focuses on heroine Bronwyn Llyr and the Civil War. This was a great fast-paced thriller, chocked full of historical detail as are all of Monfredos books. It would be helpful to have read the first book, but it is not entirely necessary. The historical quotes at the beginning of each chapter were fascinating and added another level of depth to the book. I enjoyed the subplots going on within Bronwyn's family-- including the budding romance between Bronwyn's sister and Dr. Travis, Bronwyn's brother's experiences as a prisoner of war Libby Prison, as well as the sad goodbye Bronwyn's Aunt Glynis must say to her longtime 'friend' Cullen Stuart. I was surprised to see a kinder and gentler agent O'Hara in the second installment, as I thought his unabashed male-chauvinism served merely as a foil to the liberated Bronwyn in the first novel. He was back, and provided some comic relief as well as a point of tension for Bronwyn who is unsure of his trustworthiness.
I am always happy to find that Monfredo has continued to focus on women's experiences of history. Feminists will probably particularly enjoy this novel, but it should bequite accessible and enjoyable to a wider audience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark J. Heinicke on August 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Not far from the central action of this espionage novel is the frequent rumble of cannon, a continuing reminder of the doomed Peninsula Campaign of 1862, wherein Union general George McClellan's attempt to take Richmond was repulsed by the wiles and boldness of Robert E. Lee. Within this blood-drenched framework, however, a different sort of wiles and boldness, together with a dash of sprightliness, emerge in the person of U.S. Treasury agent Bronwen Llyr, zig-zagging through, around, and behind battlefields and encampments of both sides to penetrate to the heart of the South's capital in the service of both country and family.

Which comes first, country or family, presents in miniature the moral dilemma faced in large by many of the Civil War's participants, an emotional crucible just one degree short of the stress of actual combat. As reflected in the book's title, the phenomenon of brother against brother, countryman against countryman, was common to a grim degree, in this as in most civil wars.

In Richmond, Bronwen Llyr is faced with two puzzles: how to free her imprisoned brother, who has been sentenced to execution, and how to free millions of dollars worth of tobacco, that has been sentenced to probable immolation. Her brother Seth is to be executed, unjustly, on charges of espionage--a contrivance designed by Confederate intelligence to smoke out Bronwen, who is the *real* spy. Why Llyr would want to spring her brother is obvious. But why free the tobacco? The answer involves a far more intricate puzzle hatched by none other than President Lincoln, the solution to which promises to appease the French, who are highly displeased with Union blockades that keep Richmond's hoard of tobacco out of their hands.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly Largent on July 1, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Brothers of Cain, coined a "history-mystery," is set among the American Civil War. Author Miriam Grace Monfredo stayed true to the actual events of the war while placing several fictional characters among the strife: namely the Llyr siblings. Brother Seth, an officer in the Union army, and his two sisters Bronwen and Kathryn.
In spring of '62, after awakening in a muddied ditch on a Virginia battlefield littered with dead blue- and grey-uniformed men, Seth, a 2nd Lieutenant in the Union army is captured by Confederates. His sisters Kathryn, a Civil War nurse, and Bronwen, a Union Treasury agent, by a twist of fate learn of his capture. Come hell or high water, Bronwen is determined to free him before the Confederacy learns that Seth is the brother of a Union spy. With the help of Abraham Lincoln, Bronwen sets her cap for Richmond on a two-fold mission: free up some of the tobacco stored in Richmond warehouses to pacify Britain and France, tobacco that's stuck in Richmond due to the Union blockade; and free her brother from Libby Prison.
Bronwen makes her way through the Confederacy, always one step away from being recognized or discovered by Southern agents. During her journey through the South, she meets many historical and fictional figures who assist her efforts. But will she make it to her brother's rescue prior to the hangman's noose being fitted around his neck?
Monfredo's style of writing captures the essence of a period when the nation was at war with itself. Her descriptive pace flows with ease, each action clearly visible, purposeful. The characters, although fictitious, come to life through each action of bravery, each perception of the war, and through the digestion of the death and destruction the war leaves in its path.
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