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The Ninth Daughter
Abigail Adams Mystery #1

by Barbara Hamilton
aka Barbara Hambly


The Ninth Daughter was a good reminder that you shouldnít judge a book too much by its cover. This one had me assuming the story inside was pretty cozy and likely not my sort of thing. But then I read what a few others had said, and learned that the author was aka Barbara Hambly, whose writing I knew, and, well... Admittedly no oneís going to mistake this for the other extreme, dwelling on "those mean cobblestones down which a man must go," but itís a really enjoyable traditional-style historical and Iím eagerly looking forward to the next in the series.

I was also a bit twitchy about using a real-life historical figure as the hero/heroine, since a lot of those stories fail when the willing suspension of disbelief you need to enter the story gets too much interference from how little the person on the page matches the one already in your head. But I think it works best with someone who, like Abigail, is a secondary player on historyís stage—we just arenít as familiar with them, with a lot of strong, pre-set notions. This Abigail was a wholly believable person of sense and sensibility, enjoyable to spend time with. It was just as enjoyable to view more famous people like Paul Revere, her husband John, and his cousin Sam through her eyes; I do like seeing the larger figures brought to life this way. To most people Paul Revere is a revolutionary icon, forever galloping through the night shouting that the British are coming. The friend Abigail knows is still a passionate Patriot, but also a quiet man of good humor, good sense, and dry wit. Hamilton also did an excellent job of bringing her setting to life, building a well-rounded vision of it through the details of Abigailís daily life and thoughts rather than interrupting the story with long historical digressions.

When Abigail finds a gruesomely murdered stranger on the floor of her friend Rebecca Malvernís house and her friend missing, she also finds that the British consider her own husband John a primary suspect. Abigail steps in to investigate both disappearance and murder, finding some unlikely allies along the way, all against the background of colonial Bostonís build-up to a very special Tea Party.

Highly recommended.

The Book

Berkley Prime Crime
Trade Paperback
Historical Mystery - Colonial Boston, MA / 1773
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The Reviewer

Kim Malo
Reviewed 2010
© 2010