At The Capitol by
C. M. Gleason is a unique historical mystery. With a superb
ability to combine famous and admired historical figures with
characters of her own, Gleason masterfully creates a suspenseful
and informative story. The characters created bring to life
the Civil War era.
“It was suggested to me to write a story involving Civil
War mysteries, basically to combine historical fiction with
a suspense story. The suggestion had Lincoln solving murders
as President. Instead, I came up with someone really close
to Lincoln, who would involve the President on the peripheries.
I had to work around the fact that the Civil War was a dark
and ugly time in American history. Each book is set during
a certain number of days that took place during the Lincoln
presidency. I look at the historical documentation during
those times. For this book, I found out that there was a dome
being put on the top of the Capitol with an inside crane.
I immediately thought of a story with a body hanging from
This third book in the series has want-to-be journalist Sophie
Gates and Southern Belle Constance Lemagne sitting in the
Senate Gallery waiting for a session to start. As they look
up, they see a man hanging from the rotunda, the nearly completed
Capitol Dome. Knowing immediately who to call, they send a
messenger for Adam Quinn. He is a frontiersman who has become
a member of Abraham Lincoln’s security team and is an
expert tracker. Realizing that the placement of the footprints
shows the man was murdered and had not committed suicide,
he decides to investigate with the blessing of President Abraham
The sub-plots are just as riveting as the main plot. There
is a Southern sympathizer in Washington DC who is running
a female spy network reporting to the Confederacy, and she
has an insidious plot to foil the Union Army’s march
to Manassas. The story also delves into the life of Dr. George
Hilton, a black man constantly in danger despite his status
as a physician, because racists resent him performing autopsies
on white bodies. He also assists the Southern belle and sympathizer,
Constance, who desires his expertise to help save her father’s
leg that was badly injured in a carriage accident. Readers
will wonder if there is also a desire for Constance and Hilton
that has romantic aspirations. Then there is Sophie, who has
befriended Felicity Monroe, a stunning young society woman
whose upcoming nuptials are the talk of the town, but who
has some deep, dark secrets.
Gleason noted, “He has high integrity and wants to do
what is right. I think he has simple wants, needs, and is
a still water runs deep kind of guy. There is also a subtle
sense of humor. Overall calm, loyal, and intelligent. Sophie
is determined and very intelligent. She thinks outside the
box. She does not want to be repressed and loves adventures.
To her, learning is important, and she is very open-minded.
Sometimes she is stubborn and pragmatic. Constance has a Southern
background upbringing. I think she has been sheltered intellectually,
but through the course of the series, she will become more
open-minded. She is resourceful, attractive, manipulative,
and strong. In this book, she is catty and arrogant. Dr. George
Hilton is very intelligent, with a dry and wicked sense of
humor. He has a high sense of justice and is trying to fight
his feeling for Constance. He has a thirst for knowledge.
I based him on a real person, Dr. Alexander Augusta, who was
a black doctor during the Civil War. He was mentored by a
Quaker physician that left him money to go to medical school.”
The author provides the reader with a view of what life was
like for citizens at the beginning of the Civil War, including
some tidbits on President Lincoln’s thoughts and personal
life. This well-written story has very engaging and interesting
characters. Readers await anxiously for the next installment.