Another Review at MyShelf.Com

The Shiloh Sisters
A Harrison Haines Civil War Mystery

By Michael Kilian

     Michael Kilian outdoes himself in this book about the Battle of Shiloh and the start of the turning point of the Civil War. The story is very poignant and thoroughly depicts events, brings in the development of the characters and the actual battle that required a total involvement and enmeshment into the history for that study and visual reconstruction of this most important historic battle. Kilian gives fair portrayals of the Generals and Officers of the Battle of Shiloh and how they thought and worked up the nerve to do the things they had to do to make that a decisive battle for the Union. An honest look back at the history with a story thrown in just to keep the reader interested. Studying history is often a boring investment of time, but if schools had books like Kilian’s to let the students read, they would get a lot more out of the class. I found this book to be an enjoyable read and very full of actual dialogue and events to keep the spice.

     A Union General’s wife goes to Grant and begs passage through enemy lines in a life or death matter dealing with her twin. She doesn’t get far, and is murdered, with her twin sister, and what happens next to the General (her husband) and the rest of the troops takes the reader on a journey through Southern thinking and actions that made the Civil War one of the hardest on families of both Northern and Southern persuasions. It literally ripped families apart for the loyalties of those involved. Harrison Haines is one of the first U.S. Secret Service Agents and is brought into the fray by General Grant to find out why the killings took place and track down the murders. He and his partner Tantou are out in the New Mexico Territory in their own messes trying to save a package of gold for the Union Army and trying very hard to stay alive when they get word they are to make haste to Grant. What happens next, well the reader will have to settle down and hold on to a good chair while the ride follows.

     The Shiloh Sisters is a fast paced, haunting look at actual history that will leave the reader glad that he/she doesn’t have to actually live it. Your toes will not be squishing through the bloody mud nor will you have to be out in the battle torn elements that are so realistically depicted.

      Mr. Kilian is in the second printing of this masterpiece, (the first was in hardcover) and I hope that it finds a large audience. The writing is superb, the history is true and factual. I had a hard time finding time to shut out the rest of the world while I finished this wonderful book. Excellent writing and vivid living pictures painted by wordsmithing of the highest sort. I have never read his other books, prior to reading this one, and I now intend to get all of the other four. It would follow that they are all equal to the quality of this book. The studies of the battle themselves would be enough to propel my reading, and the mysteries thrown in for good measure would surely prove to take some of the weightier issues and make them a bit more palatable.

The Book

Berkley Prime Crime, New York ~ Penguin Books
January 2005
Mass Market Paperback
Historical Murder Mystery [1862, civil war]
More at 


NOTE: Bit of gore, and hard language typical of the events, but not more than is needed for the story

The Reviewer

Claudia Turner VanLydegraf
Reviewed 2005
© 2005