A Civil War Mystery, No. 1
Padlock Mystery Press – 2001
ISBN: 096620204X – Trade Paperback
Historical / Cozy / Civil War / General W. W. Loring

Reviewed by Brenda Weeaks, MyShelf.com
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A notable start for an engaging new series!

The General’s assistant, Lieutenant J.A.C. (Jack) Conley, tells the mystery in first person. His admiration of the General’s previous war heroics had him searching and requesting to be the General’s aide during this war. The two have a good relationship. Since the General is ill in this mystery, Jack does the investigating legwork and keeps the General informed of camp activities.

Its mid February, 1862, and Confederate General W. W. Loring’s troop has relocated near Winchester Virginia. Provost Marshal J. A. Totten and Sergeant Roy Cutler arrive to inform General Loring that they have found a body. Private N. Johnson has been murdered. A private thought to be the little brother of another private, but, in fact, isn’t. The General runs the investigation from his tent. He gives Jack a list of things to check on and has him questioning various people. Jack runs into camp visitors, stirs up officers, and makes some nervous, but he gets the job done. The outcome begs the question: Who would want to kill a simple private -- an enlisted man, an officer, a doctor, a farmer protecting his illegal distillery, a scout, an Indian, a non-military visitor, a spy, a jealous lover, a politician? The possibilities are endless and Jack has only just begun!

As the story moves, characters, suspects, and clues are introduced. Ms. Cooper gives some interesting insight into the historical characters’ personalities without going into extensive detail. The straightforward writing gives the story, as a whole, a smooth delivery. Readers will be entranced with the civil war scenes and particulars, not to mention the added historical gossip blended into the storyline. Expect a well-played, well-hidden mystery, only to be solved at the end.

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