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The Lincoln Conspiracy: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 18, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1St Edition edition (September 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345496779
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345496775
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #980,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"...a historical puzzle as labyrinthine and grandiose as Scheherazade's tales...As clever as Sherlock Holmes, as wily as Pendergast in Preston and Child's series, and wickedly funny on top of it all, the irresistible McFadden is due to return in a sequel--thank goodness!"

- BOOKLIST (starred review)

"The history and overall arc of the novel are superb...and Temple McFadden proves to be a worthwhile hero."
-- Washington Post

"...a superb job of mixing historical fact with bold speculation...Timothy O'Brien's husband-and-wife team proves a unique one. Fiona has more moxie than the majority of 19th-century women, and Temple's aversion to firearms sets him apart from the majority of his contemporaries. All in all, a fine historical mystery."
-- BookReporter

Praise for The Lincoln Conspiracy
“History as a dangerous, inventive game . . . fascinating.”—Martin Cruz Smith
“A notable fiction debut with an appealing detective hero and plenty of action. It gets off to a fast start and never stops.”—Library Journal
“A historical puzzle as labyrinthine and grandiose as Scheherazade’s tales . . . As clever as Sherlock Holmes, as wily as Pendergast in Preston and Child’s series, and wickedly funny on top of it all, the irresistible McFadden is due to return in a sequel—thank goodness!”—Booklist (starred review)
“[A] fast-paced, well-conceived adventure . . . There is nothing more fun than losing oneself in O’Brien’s rich and riotous mixture of reimagination and fact.”—Historical Novels Review
“Gripping . . . The history and overall arc of the novel are superb . . . and Temple McFadden proves to be a worthwhile hero.”—Associated Press

From the Back Cover

"The Lincoln Conspiracy is a hell of a good read. It's an exciting thriller full of believable characters and absorbing history, and the end result is a page-turning blend of research and imagination."--David Liss
A nation shattered by its president's murder
Two diaries that reveal the true scope of an American conspiracy
A detective determined to bring the truth to light, no matter what it costs him
From award-winning journalist Timothy L. O'Brien comes a gripping historical thriller that poses a provocative question: What if the plot to assassinate President Lincoln was wider and more sinister than we ever imagined
Bristling with twists and building to a climax that will leave readers gasping, The Lincoln Conspiracy offers a riveting new account of what truly motivated the assassination of one of America's most beloved presidents--and who participated in the plot to derail the train of liberty that Lincoln set in motion.

Customer Reviews

There was much too much in the book that had little to nothing to do with the story.
O'Brien does a superb job of mixing historical possibilities in a time period he researched and chronicled extremely well.
Erin Al-Mehairi
I was also rather disappointed in the ending, it did not wrap everything up the way I hoped that it would.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By plane on September 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
A well researched book posing the question of whether Abraham Lincoln's assassination in 1865 was truly engineered by the group history cites, or there might be much more to the plot. Temple McFadden a Washington D.C police detective discovers by chance two diaries on the body of a man killed at the B & O railroad station. The diaries outline a plot to kill Lincoln that is much greater than thought. It is 1865 and a witch hunt is on to bring in more of the suspected perpetrators of the killing than are currently in custody. John Wilkes Booth is dead and it is believed that his main collaborators are being held in prison awaiting trial. Temple, with the aid of his wife, Fiona and several friends and allies attempts to find out what are the facts brought out by the diaries. One is by Mary Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln's widow, and the other by John Wilkes Booth. Booth's diary is in a code that detective McFadden, with the aid of a friend attempts to decipher.
Mr O'Brien's descriptions of the D.C. area at the end of the Civil war certainly serve to bring the reader into the period and provide an atmosphere that rings true to the time. The language and actions of the characters resound with the color of 1865 and enhance the reading pleasure of the book. Washington is dirty, hot in the summer, and filled with thousands of returning soldiers awaiting discharge. Principal characters from the period make appearances and add reality to the plot. These include Edwin Stanton, Lincoln's secretary of war, the legendary Scottish spymaster Allan Pinkerton, abolitionist Sojourner Truth, Mary Todd Lincoln as well as Mary Surratt awaiting trial and eventual death for her possible part in the assassination plot.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By pocketa queep on November 30, 2013
Format: Paperback
SPOILERS ahead... though I wish someone had spoiled this for me and saved me the effort!

The author flaunts his background as a journalist, his studies in journalism and history, his extensive research--including in the New York Times. And he never notices that NEWSPAPERS COULD NOT AND DID NOT PUBLISH PHOTOGRAPHS IN THIS ERA? It wasn't technologically possible. Which would be simply an embarrassingly dumb mistake IF one of his key plot points didn't depend on exactly that: Gardner pressures Pinkerton to leave town by threatening to publish a compromising photograph IN THE PAPERS. Not to mention that said compromising photograph -- showing a fleeting moment and shot from across the street in the late afternoon light--would have been impossible to take with the equipment of the day. Why else do you think Civil War photographers concentrated on photographs of dead bodies? Dead bodies don't move, which makes them perfect for the long exposures that cameras required.

But the impossible plot points pale next to the implausible and ridiculous ones. LIke in the very first chapter, when two different gangs of ruthless thugs show how serious they are by openly killing someone carrying an important package... then allow our hero, WHO HAS A GIMPY LEG, to saunter up, detach the package in question from the bleeding body, READ ENOUGH OF WHAT THE DOCUMENTS SAY TO KNOW THEY'RE IMPORTANT, steal them, and limp away without being shot down by the guy with the deadly LeMat we're always hearing about. Or that Stanton hates him enough to throw him in prison, but after our hero escapes, dramatically, and immediately shows up at Stanton's house, Stanton sits him down and suddenly decides to tell him everything. And then there's that Gotterdammerung ending involving, I kid you not, a reclusive millionaire with a hook instead of a hand...

This was so promising. Then I actually started reading it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By AnneB on October 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This was an interesting book and there were things that I liked and disliked about it. I liked all of the characters in the book, especially Temple and his wife Fiona. Temple's childhood story was compelling and he is just one of those people that seem to court trouble and it made for an exciting read. Fiona shows herself to be perfectly capable of taking care of herself and does so with intelligence and skill several times in the book. My favorite part of the book was the descriptions of Washington D.C. during the time after the Civil War. O'Brien does a great job of bringing the city to life and I really felt like a got a good feeling of what it would be like to live there during this time.

The major problem I had with the book was the mystery around the diaries and who was really responsible for the murder of President Lincoln. Personally, I just did not find the conspiracy theory to be very believable. I was also rather disappointed in the ending, it did not wrap everything up the way I hoped that it would. I found myself still trying to figure out how all the different pieces fit together after finishing the book.

It is a fast paced read with lots of action and suspense and fans of books with conspiracy theories are bound too enjoy this one. Historical fiction lovers will also find lots to like in this book with the great cast of important characters from this time in history and some great historical details that really added to the book. For me it was an imperfect, but interesting read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews

More About the Author

Timothy L. O'Brien ( is the Executive Editor of The Huffington Post, where he edited the 2012 Pulitzer Prize-winning series about wounded war veterans, "Beyond the Battlefield." Previously, he was an editor and reporter at The New York Times. There, he helped to lead a team of Times reporters that was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in Public Service in 2009 for coverage of the financial crisis.

Prior to becoming Sunday Business editor at The New York Times in 2006, Tim was a staff writer for the Times. Among the topics and people he has written about for the paper are Wall Street, Russia, Manhattan's art world, cybercrimes and identity theft, Warren Buffett, geopolitics, digital media, international finance, Hollywood, terrorism and terrorist financing, money laundering, gambling, and white-collar fraud. Tim was a member of a team of Times reporters that won a Loeb Award for Distinguished Business Journalism in 1999.

Before returning to the Times in 2003, Tim was the senior feature writer at Talk, a magazine founded by former New Yorker editor Tina Brown. Tim was with Talk from 2000 until it ceased publishing in 2002. Before joining Talk, Tim was a reporter with the Times and, prior to that, The Wall Street Journal.

O'Brien, a graduate of Georgetown University, holds three master's degrees -- in US History, Business and Journalism -- all from Columbia University. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife and two children. Connect with Tim on Facebook (TimOBrienAuthor), Twitter (@timobrien), LinkedIn, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

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