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The Cosgrove Report: Being the Private Inquiry of a Pinkerton Detective into the Death of President Lincoln Paperback – February 3, 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (February 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802144071
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802144072
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #625,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Dazzling . . . A superior example of this genre.” —Nicholas Meyer, author of The Seven-Per-Cent Solution

“George O’Toole has managed to catch us all in his net with The Cosgrove Report. A must for lovers of history and stylish writing, mystery fans, adventure and assassination buffs.” —Arlene Francis

“An enthralling, beautifully constructed mystery.” —Harriet Van Horne

“O’Toole makes such a convincing eyewitness, I almost suspect he was there. Don’t let anyone tell you how The Cosgrove Report ends.” —Dilys Winn, Murder Ink; Murderess Ink

“A humdinger of a mystery . . . transports us to a landscape at once familiar and as exotic as a sinister, murderous oz.” —The Washington Star

“By carriage, train, boat and balloon, Cosgrove stumbles on one denouement after another . . . novelist George O’Toole . . . follows sleuth and booth with verve, humor and impressive scholarship.” —Time

“An absolute delight . . . there are wheels within wheels that bring the fancier of history up with shocking suddenness . . . will appeal to the mystery fan who likes the feeling of being trapped in a mirror maze . . . not only is this good history, it is also good fun.” —San Diego Union

“O’Toole takes an era captured in daguerreotype and inflates it with enough life to give us a vividly vicarious understanding of the mid-19th century . . . the reader is brilliantly seduced onto the tightrope between face and fiction.” —The Cleveland Press

“Out of the ordinary . . . an imaginative mix of historical research and fictional extrapolation . . . the ending is as surprising as anyone could wish.” —Los Angeles Times

“Compelling . . . a stunning conclusion.” —Grand Rapids Press

“A gem . . . it truly takes the reader back to relive those days. But don’t let anyone tell you how the book ends . . . that would be cruel and inhuman treatment.” —Memphis Commercial Appeal

“Moves along at lightning speed . . . sprightly and intriguing . . . what gorgeous entertainment.” —Columbus Dispatch

“Fascinating . . . an exciting chronicle of what might have been . . . ending with a twist that should satisfy the most fanatical mystery aficionado.” —Civil War Times

“My hat is off to G.J.A. O’Toole. He has come up with an idea for a mystery so good . . . and he has brought it off with a flair that rivals Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time . . . ingenious and plausible . . . the research is meticulous.” —Baltimore Sun

“If you think there is no more mystery surrounding that assassination, you are dead wrong . . . a must for anyone to whom history is a wonderful old trunk in the attic, always full of dusty surprises.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer

“A political thriller based on a careful reading of history that will make a thrice-told tale seem completely different.” —Boston Herald American

“It has everything—mystery, adventure, history, and a delightful unsuspected ending . . . fascinating characters, among them some of Washington’s most illustrious men . . . the unique tale of an American Sherlock Holmes.” —Seattle Times Magazine

“Startling. Don’t tell anyone how it ends.” —The Pittsburgh Press

“Contains more factual information about the truth of the assassination and the alleged conspiracy than I have seen in print anywhere . . . Lovers of mystery stories will find O’Toole a master teller of tales. This is the best of historical fiction from historical fact that you’re likely to find.” —Cincinnati Enquirer

“Rejoice, lovers of mystery and history. You’re in for a treat you’ll be talking about for a long time.” —Newport News Daily Press

“A first-rate thriller by any standards . . . a truly distinctive historical detective story. No one has done it any better.” —Savannah News-Press Sunday Magazine

“A tour de force of its kind.” —Publishers Weekly

Customer Reviews

Very interesting premise that was well written and researched.
P38L Lightning
It did require a lot of concentration mainly because the language style is different, but every time I started to read a chapter, I got caught up in the storyline.
Leigh Barb Bacon
I have always been fascinated with anything to do with Lincoln, and this is a unique story about who might have been involved in his assassination, and why.
Patty Risher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By William R. Lawson on December 15, 2005
Format: Unknown Binding
I just read the two previous reviews of this book and was mildly disappointed. "The Cosgrove Report" has a literary dimension that goes well beyond the suggestion that its basically a pretty well-written historical "who-done-it."

I stumbled upon it while rotating a bookrack late one night next to the checkout counter of a 7-11. I was bored and just looking for something to read me to sleep. Something about the title and the cover caught my attention, so I bought it...but with minimal expectations. When I got home, and was settled in bed, I picked it up and began to read...and continued reading throughout the night.

What is neither stated nor implied in the other reviews is that the book is an incredibly well-crafted piece of writing! O'Toole has created not only a provocative historical novel, but also has artfully woven through the story, a story within a story, within the story (i.e., one up on "The French Lieutenant's Woman"). In other words, it is not only a highly polished, quasi-fictional historical piece, but is also a very unusual, challenging, and highly accomplished piece of creative writing!

In part, because of this book, within a few months I moved to Washington, D.C. (from Bellingham, WA), to see what I could of what was left of Cosgrove's/Lincoln's Washington (not the least of which was a mysterious subterranean chamber on the west side of the Capitol building). Was it there? After you read this book, you may want to go look for yourself.

P.S. Some readers might find Cosgrove's 19th century writing style a little too wordy and, at times, obtuse. But if you like Shakespeare (or T.S. Eliot), you'll feel quite at home...perhaps reading well through the night!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kurt Conner VINE VOICE on May 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
I did not expect to like this book, even with recommendations from my brother and my dad. It is a historical conspiracy theory novel, and I had been frustrated with the pervasive weakness of the historical aspects of the Da Vinci Code (and the present-day "thriller" on top of that, but that's another review). This novel, though, was a delightful surprise. It presents itself as a 19th century manuscript by a detective investigating the unsolved mysteries of the Lincoln assassination, as submitted to a contemporary detective who peppers the thing with footnotes to give the historical background to various observations. This could have been dreary or dry, but I was shocked at just how funny the novel is. From antiquated little euphemisms to occasional physical comedy, the book is just a pleasure to read, even for those of us without much interest in the conspiracy theories it fleshes out. Aside from an ill-advised adventure chase scene at the end of the book, this novel doesn't hit a false note at all, and I highly recommend it to anyone who isn't afraid of footnotes.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Dorothy M. Young on May 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Even though this book is out of print (and why don't they re-issue it?) I'm surprised to see that no one has yet reviewed this clever, well-researched, provacative book. Whether you love a well-crafted whodunnit or enjoy exploring the times, mores, people and events surrounding the Civil War and the assasination of Abraham Lincoln, THE COSGROVE REPORT is for you. It's well worth seeking out.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By adorian on February 15, 2011
Format: Paperback
Did John Wilkes Booth really die at the time and place that history tells us he did? That is the mystery this novel investigates. Someone receives a manuscript and needs to verify or disprove its contents. And so we are off on a wild ride of historical secrets. 445 pages. The details are colorful. The cast of real characters is a rogues gallery of memorable people who actually existed. Our narrator follows clue after clue ("clew" in the delightfully archaic rendering of the time) and discovers one impossible revelation after another about the lies that make up history. And just when you think you know exactly what happens next, a new surprise surfaces. I did not anticipate the two enormous plot twists that dominate the final pages.

This is an excellent novel. If you love the old-fashioned narrative voices of the thick, detail-heavy novels of the 1800s, this one should be right up your alley--granted it's a dark and shadowy gas-lit alley with scurrying rats. I loved the challenging vocabulary: ratamacue, brummagem, rowel, vicinage... And I loved the introduction of each character, when I had that momentary confusion as to whether this was a fictional or a real person. In almost all cases, the characters are real. (The auxiliary narrator provides the footnotes to prove it.)

This is a very satisfying novel, and I can enthusiastically recommend it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Macbain on July 19, 2010
Format: Paperback
Originally published in 1979 and now reissued to coincide with the Lincoln bicentennial, the novel purports to be a manuscript written by one Nicholas Cosgrove, Pinkerton agent. In 1868, Cosgrove is assigned to determine whether John Wilkes Booth escaped from the burning farmhouse in Maryland and still lives. His report, having lain concealed for a century, now falls into the hands of private detective Michael Croft, whose job is to verify and annotate it. Writing in a grandiloquent High Victorian style, Cosgrove tells a tale of switched identities, doctored documents, and bitter feuding within the White House as he pursues the elusive Booth. Historical characters, such as President Andrew Johnson, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, Alan Pinkerton, and many others make their appearance to either aid or thwart Cosgrove in his mission. And Cosgrove himself is an ambiguous figure with seemingly no family, friends, or worldly attachments. It all ends with a duel and a fatal balloon chase--or does it? One final plot twist turns the whole tale on its head. `Croft's' annotations, like the footnotes in George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman novels, are, in this reviewer's opinion, the best part of the book. With impressive scholarship and sharp wit, O'Toole lays bare for the non-specialist the real and persistent mysteries that still surround the trial of the Lincoln assassins. Altogether, highly entertaining and highly informative.
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