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A Fine Likeness: A novel in the House Divided series Paperback – April 5, 2012
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A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Even with an only lukewarm interest in the conflict, I was intrigued by Sean McLachlan's A Fine Likeness when I first heard about the book. A "Civil War Horror" novel written by a seasoned archaeologist, travel writer, and historical reference author sounded peculiar enough to warrant a second glance, and although it took me a while to circle around to reading it, I'm now kicking myself for waiting so long, because it's one hell of a good yarn.
The book starts off near Columbia, Missouri with a skirmish between Captain Addison's militia company and Rawlins' Rangers, a six-man band of "bushwhackers". The term refers to small bands of guerrilla fighters who operated in many states during the war, launching ambushes and raids and falling back into the wilderness, where the men lived off the land and the generosity of sympathizing civilians. Like the guerrilla fighters of the Napoleonic wars and WW2, these "combatants" occupied a weird middle ground between organized military units and simple armed civilians taking action against their enemies.Read more ›
On the side of the Union you follow Captain Richard Addison. He is a good man who only joined the military reluctantly after he realized how badly he was needed. Dealing with his wife seeming to lose her mind after the death of their youngest son and none of his requests for assistance being granted, he has a heavy burden. When his patrol is ambushed by Jimmy he sees his son in the young Southerner's face. As he begins to try to hunt down Bloody Bill he secretly hopes that Jimmy can be redeemed, but the more atrocities he sees committed the more he doubts himself.
Sean has written several books about the Civil War the history of Missouri, so he has a lot of knowledge to share. The book is very well done using actual people (Bloody Bill) who were involved with the War in the area to add a layer of realism to the story. He does such a wonderful job with the weapon descriptions and battle detail that the book really comes alive. I had some interest in this time period in high school so it appealed very much to me. This is the only book like this I have ever read so I don't have anything to compare it to, but if he writes any more like this I will read them.
McLachlan sets his horror-history story well outside the norm, avoiding the tried-and-true territory from big clashes like Gettsyburg and Shiloh. I would like to see more stories set in places that are often overshadowed by the giant military maneuvers. By sidestepping the stereotypes, McLachlan takes readers smack dab into the guerrilla war of the trans-Missouri theater. This clears out the preconceptions that Hollywood has inserted into our minds and prepares readers for a singular story with hairpin turns.
McLachlan leads on with solid action and an especially deft hand for description. He clearly knows the terrain under his characters' feet and offers sensory impressions of the natural world that anchor the story in place and time. One well-handled account of riders approaching an abandoned camp through smoke and a screen of trees instantly conveys the creepy reality of the tale -- and there is real poetry here as well. Most tellers of swashbuckling tales tend to skip this stuff, and their stories often suffer as a result. McLachlan is at his best with description of this kind and with action -- much more so than with dialogue. One downside: I wish we had seen Bloody Bill sooner in the story, but it's tough to get everyone on stage, and set up the tale, which is braided together while being told from different perspectives.Read more ›