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Die Like A Hero
Josiah Beede Mystery, No.3

By Clyde Linsley

     Nastiness in politics is hardly a recent phenomenon. Josiah Beede - lawyer, war hero, and sometimes detective- has been called to Washington to investigate the recent death of President William Henry Harrison. While his age, carousing and health make natural causes a perfectly credible cause, suspicions are raised because the newly elected Harrison was the first president to die in office, after only 30 days, with assorted people around Washington who saw him more as a roadblock to their own ambitions than as a cherished leader.

     Beede's reluctance to take on such an investigation is supported by highly inconclusive results, with other calls on his services soon appearing. Back home in NH, Deborah Turner married someone else because she got tired of waiting on Josiah to make an offer. But her new husband has suddenly disappeared, without explanation or clue. When his body turns up, Josiah takes on that investigation as well, with not much better initial success. The stress of a life occupied with two different investigations requiring travel back and forth between New Hampshire and Washington in a period when even the relative convenience of train travel is a new, scarce phenomenon gets even worse when a slave catcher turns up, looking to kidnap Josiah's freedman friends and neighbors.

     The author uses language especially well in giving the reader a feel for the 19th century setting. Even in their own thoughts, people speak more formally, with few slang words or contractions or the sort of unreserved casualness that is the essence of today. The result brings the reader very effectively into the very different pace of their times, brought to vivid life with a lot of historical detail. Including some interesting light on politics and relations among the races in the pre-Civil War US. And while the pace of the language gives a slower feel, the story itself moves rapidly along, at times too quickly - my only criticism is a rushed, half finished feel to some of the explanations at the end. An enjoyable read getting there regardless.

The Book

Berkley Prime Crime
March 2005
SoftCover Paperback
Murder mystery / Historical [USA, 1800's]
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The Reviewer

Kim Malo
Reviewed 2005
© 2005