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The Ninth Daughter (An Abigail Adams Mystery) Paperback – Bargain Price, September 29, 2009

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From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. At the start of Hamilton's exceptional debut, set in Boston in 1773, Abigail Adams stumbles on an unknown woman's bloody corpse while paying a call on her friend and fellow patriot, Rebecca Malvern, who later goes missing. When it looks as if Abigail's irascible husband, John, may be accused of the murder, she sets out to clear his name. The trail takes her through the streets of colonial Boston and into the surrounding towns. Meanwhile, political unrest and opposition to the English crown grows. Working with both the Sons of Liberty and loyalists, Abigail bridges the gap between them as she investigates the murder and searches for Rebecca. While bringing to life such historical figures as Sam Adams and Paul Revere, Hamilton transports the reader to another time and place with close attention to matters like dress, menus and the monumental task of doing laundry. Historical fans will eagerly look forward to the next in this promising series. (Oct.)
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Product Details

  • Series: An Abigail Adams Mystery
  • Paperback: 359 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade; Original edition (September 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425230775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425230770
  • ASIN: B0035G02CW
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,802,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jim Duggins, Ph.D. on February 25, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Barbara Hamilton has written a wonderful book to kick off her new mystery series. "The Ninth Daughter," set in Massachusetts in the 1770's, is a book about a serial killer loose in Boston and its environs, a case where a smart and somewhat progressive woman is the sleuth. That woman is Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams, who will be the second president of the United States. With Abigail as protagonist, the novel introduces a handful of other illustrious Colonial Americans: Tories and Whigs, Colonials and Royals, Calvinists and Catholics, etc.

The strength of this novel, in my opinion, is its historical accuracy and the delightful unfolding of the plot and its back stories. The story begins on the eve of the revolution and key players are representatives from the Crown and the "Sons of Liberty" (John Adams, Paul Revere, et al.). We are treated to visits to a small village a day away from Boston inhabited by Christian fundamentalists and see the protestant hatred for "papists". The Abigail Adams of this book relates well to a great variety of people sometimes using her gender as a buffer against hostility. Her friendship with a Redcoat Lieutenant and his Sergeant allow her a source, sometimes entre, to clues in solving the murders. Those characters sometimes are a backdrop when her husband (a prominent member of the Sons of Liberty) is in the room. Author Hamilton weaves these personalities and their points of view together in a living drama with great finesse and the real "feelings" of a nation in turmoil. We are aware that the preparation for the famous Boston Tea Party is a constant background throughout the book.

It is, however, how the book "works" as a novel that is the proof of the pudding in historical fiction.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Julia B. Frank, MD on November 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
I have had a longstanding passion for John and Abigail Adams and the colonial period in general. This wonderful mystery has everything--details of the times, a great sense of the complexity and ambiguity of the politics of revolution, a well constructed mystery, and resonance between the present and the past. Abigail is an indominable feminist, but within the context of her times. The characters are as real to me as John Adams was after reading McCullough's biography. This was a great read!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Holly Adiele on March 10, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just recently discovered Barbara Hamilton's mystery series featuring Abigail Adams, have read two of the first three books, and am enjoying them very much. Skimming the many reader reviews of the first title (The Ninth Daughter), I agreed with much of what was said -- both positive and negative. Yes, the plot is a bit over-complicated, the cast of characters is quite large, the characters often think in modern ways, etc. But her re-creations of 1770's Boston, pre-Revolutionary politics, Adams family life, and Abigail's character are colorful and engaging.
However, just as I was really enjoying the book, I began to notice what seems to me to be a huge historical blooper! (No, it's not important to the plot, and yes, I am a retired junior high history teacher, but come on, Hamilton, you obviously did a lot of historical research! How could you get this so wrong?)
The author falls into a common pattern of softening John Adams's rather thorny character (after all, he's Abigail's beloved) and exaggerating the equally thorny character of his cousin Sam Adams. Okay, I can live with that -- but I can't swallow Hamilton's making Sam Adams a slave owner -- and an owner who uses his slave Surry as his concubine to boot! [See pages 162 and 173 of the paperback edition.]
Quoting from the latest, extensively researched biography of Sam Adams (Samuel Adams, by John K. Alexander, a professor at the University of Cincinnati, 2011, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers) -- "One of his relatives recounted how Samuel responded in the mid-1760s when his wife received a young black female slave as a present. He said that no slave could live in his house; if Surry came, she must be free....
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By James M. Rawley on March 15, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is written by a seasoned pro, Barbara Hambly, under a new name, so I don't feel guilty about complaining a little.

It's an excellent cosy with a fine sense of historical place. You can see -- and smell -- pre-Revolutionary Boston from the very first sentence.

At the same time, it's a twentieth-century serial killer novel dumped into the eighteenth century. Though there are no blatant anachronisms, the characters speak of what "the killer" would do, discuss (in other language) how serial murderers can't quit, and freak out about cults of religious fanatics in a modern urban agnostic -- not an eighteenth century deistic -- way.


On at least two occasions the plot is forced to the point of near-explosion. Early on Abigail Adams is caught burglarizing the home of a self-righteous Tory, with the help of his own house slave. Because she has turned up some letters that show the owner trusted his daughter too much, he spares both Adams and the slave, and indeed changes his entire character just because the plot needs him to do that. Later on, Abigail Adams wanders through a dreadful wilderness in a way no woman of her class, feminist or not, could have managed. The author barely mentions what clothes Adams is wearing; if the clothes had been focused on, Abigail Adams's trudge through dark, wet woods in them would have appeared even more absurd than it does.

Meanwhile, with the Boston Tea Party coming up and every main American character in the book under suspicion of capital sedition, Adams and a conveniently plot-forced British lieutenant investigage a murder as if they were partners on CSI or LAW AND ORDER.
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