From Publishers Weekly
A colorful, scrupulous and unassuming sleuth named Abel Jones is the protagonist of this solid historical thriller set during the opening months of the Civil War. When a crusading abolitionist is found murdered in 1861 in a Union encampment near Washington, Jones, a convalescing casualty of First Manassas, presently assigned to desk duty, is tapped by the Union's newest general, George B. McClellan, to discover the killer and bring him to justice. Although Jones is the most modest of menAa teetotaling Welsh immigrant, a Methodist and stout moralistAhe's a veteran of some of the bloodiest battles of the century, as a former solider in Britain's Indian army. Modeled on the best qualities of such famous detectives as Hercule Poirot and Sherlock HolmesAwith a little Miss Marple thrown inAJones is small of stature and hampered by an injured leg, but he is a courageous man and seeker of truth. Decrying injustice everywhere, from child prostitution to military atrocities, the humble do-gooder proves a daunting foil for an assortment of villains, including McClellan himself. The first-person narrative is infused with ingeniously authentic and varied period patois, artfully drawn cameos and historical portraits. Whenever Jones issues a narrow assessment of people according to their national or racial background, he does so in accordance with typical period attitudesAno revisionist political correctness here.. Sometimes unwittingly funny, Jones's narrative voice is a feast of fine language and well-rendered dialectical precision. This splendid novel whets the appetite for the promised next volume and the continuing adventures of the modest hero. (Oct.)
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In a winning blend of history and mystery, Parry brings to life Civil War Washington, D.C., and environs through the eyes of an exceptional Union soldier. Welsh immigrant Captain Abel Jones, who is keeping accounts in the War Department in Washington in late 1861, seems a mild-mannered man who'll follow orders. General McClellan personally enlists him to investigate the highly publicized murder of Anthony Fowler, a shining star of an officer and an ardent abolitionist. But Jones is more seasoned than he seems, having learned the horror of war in bloody hand-to-hand combat in India before being crippled at Bull Run. Suspicion for the murder rests first with the rebels, then with an industrialist making handsome profits from the war; but answers are to be found closer to home, and Jones turns out to be more tenacious and incorruptible than his seniors might have imagined. Parry shows corruption and hypocrisy on one hand and love of country on the other in this vivid glimpse of our past (which is also the first in a promised series). Michele Leber