Call Each River Jordan by Owen Perry
Abel Jones Mystery, No. 3
William Morrow - 2001
ISBN: 0060186380 - Hardcover
Historical Suspense - for graphic violence

Reviewed by Brenda Weeaks, MyShelf.Com
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Major Abel Jones is a Welsh immigrant to the Union. Like many American immigrants, he joined up to help stop slavery. In this episode of the Jones series, Able has been called to investigate a mass murder. Someone is killing slaves in large groups. He knows it's not the southerners. They are all too aware of the price of slaves. And the Northerners are here to free them. So who would be cruel enough to kill entire families of slaves?

In a somewhat lamenting writing style Perry breathes life in to a long dead civil war. His exceptionally dramatic descriptions are the most memorable I have ever read, and won't easily be forgotten. He has successfully given life to the ghostly battlefields we have all seen at one time or another, bringing them to life in a frightening, almost cruel way. His expressions of the war and the mystery are so remarkable and articulate that some paragraphs will demand to be re-read.

The story begins as the steamboat Abel is arriving on, comes upon the violent battle of Shiloh. As he approaches, he witnesses soldiers pouring into the river to escape the battle. Here are portions from two paragraphs on page 5:

"The sailor folk raised axes, clubs and pistols to keep our boat from being overrun. Men, half-naked, splashed into the river. As if it were the Jordan. A few swam out in the muddy stream, then disappeared, unable to cross over.

"Now I have seen fear, and felt it, but there is no greater danger for an army than panic…. In battle, he survives who stands and fights. The man who runs will be cut down and slain. But we are not creatures of sense, and cannot be told…. For running is the impulse of our hearts."

Although the mystery is well plotted and attended to, it's the historical images, along with his characters that will continue to haunt me. Once discovered, the Abel Jones series is one that any die-hard history mystery reader will come to savor.

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