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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

4.6 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review



“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

About the Author

G. J. A. O'Toole has served with the Central Intelligence Agency as chief of the Problem Analysis Branch and is the author of several books, including two historical novels.
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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: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #623,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I took a second look at my title and thought, " this is faint praise, as there IS no other book like this!". It shares a few things with 'A Bullet For Lincoln' , but this book is truly a "One Off". Not only is it a truly roll allong narrative it is absolutely based upon historical study of the Lincoln Assasination, material I have perused myself. Guess what folks, there is no solid evidence that Booth was caught or killed, and likely got away with the help of both Northern and Southern intelligence rings. Remember hearing about Mudds innocence in school? Wrong. He operated a safehouse for Southern agents. And, get this, the writings of Asia Booth, J.Wilkes sister, among other sources makes it unclear today if Booth was: a Southern Agent,a Union agent, Southern agent turned by the Union,a Union agent turned by the South, or a Northern agent pretending to be a Southern agent who was actually working for his own ends or for a rogue branch of the Union government.

Some things are clear. The head of Union intelligence was as clairvoyant as the Dallas police officers who picked up Oswald for entering a movie illegally (which brought 2 police cars, 12 officers including 2 police Captains and a member of the FBI. Hmm... Anyway the Union Intelligence Chief was so crooked he could see what he had eaten for breakfast. Edwin Stanton helped Booth escape from Washington D.C.and had conspired with Booth to abduct Lincoln some 6 months earlier. Booth's coroner got the broken leg wrong,(switched left and right), Booth's haircolor changed from black to red, his age changed from mid 20's to mid 30's, was minus a tatoo, which his body later recovered etc. Those who caught Booth were in for a huge reward hmmm no one would lie for several million in today's dollars would they?
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One of the best alternative history novels I have read, and I have read dozens. I loved the conceit--the discovery of a manuscript by the grandson of a Pinkerton detective, and his handing it over to a present day detective to determine its veracity. I also enjoyed that the language of the manuscript was authentic to its time, something that seemed to trouble other reviewers, or perhaps they just did not understand what the author was doing and why. It is a story that manages to be intriguing, thought-provoking, intricate and plausible all at once, and reminds us once again of the tragedy that the murder of Abraham Lincoln represented for our country.

While my emotional reactions are always strong to that event, I highly recommend this novel to other Civil War buffs, alternative history fans (this novel is more rewarding in many ways than those of Harry Turtledove, whom I love), and fans of literature, really. As someone who views President Lincoln as not only our greatest president, but one of history's noblest figures, and his death as something that was our greatest disaster, even worse than the war over which he presided because of what happened afterward, I view this as an essential book. The author, sadly dead, did meticulous research, and it shows. I thank him for his gift to all of us
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