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Murder in the Oval Library

Lincoln's White House Mystery Series, Book 2
Narrated by: Barry Press
Length: 10 hrs and 10 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

With the Confederate Army firing on Fort Sumter, the Civil War has begun - and an invasion of Washington, DC, from Secessionist Virginia seems imminent. As the population evacuates, the president is in desperate need of men to defend the capital.

Lincoln's trusted aide, Adam Speed Quinn, and Quinn's old friend from the Bloody Kansas conflict, Senator Jim Lane, hastily assemble a motley crew of just over a hundred men and garrison them in the East Room at the White House itself. Dubbed the Frontier Guard, these rough-and-tumble patriots steel themselves for the inevitable attack.

But even as dawn breaks with no Rebel strike, a single act of violence intrudes within the White House. One of the Frontier Guard lies dead in the oval library, throat slit ear to ear. There is a murderer among them.

Lincoln promptly assigns Quinn to deal with the matter, who is in turn aided by journalist Sophie Gates and Dr. George Hilton. And to Quinn's chagrin, the Southern belle Constance Lemagne insists on being involved in the investigation as well. But when Dr. Hilton examines the body, he makes a startling discovery that overturns all Quinn's assumptions about the murder. With his president at grave risk from without and within, Quinn must act quickly to catch the White House killer....

©2018 C.M. Gleason (P)2018 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely amazing book!

It is March 1861, and the opening salvos of the Civil War have just been exchanged, as Murder in the Oval Library by C.M. Gleason takes place. Concerned that the Confederates will march on the U.S. capital, Adam Quinn, a tracker from Illinois asked by his friend Abraham Lincoln to stay in Washington to deal with security issues, gets about 100 frontiersman to stay at the White House to protect the President’s house. The group calls themselves the Frontier Guard and are a highly undisciplined but enthusiastic group of men. However, things get even more dangerous when, one morning, someone finds the murdered body of Frontier Guard Johnny Thorne in the Oval Library, a short distance from the Lincolns’ own bedroom. Adam finds himself assigned by Lincoln to investigate this brutal murder in which the guard’s throat has been slit. Soon he finds himself getting aided by Sophie Gates, the woman he first met dressed as a male reporter in Murder in the Lincoln White House. But when the free black Dr. George Hilton performs an autopsy on the murdered soldier, he makes a startling discovery that will change the course the investigation.

I loved Murder in the Lincoln White House and didn’t think Gleason or anyone could top the book. Imagine my pleasure at discovering that I was wrong! Murder in the Oval Library turned out to be an incredible book that kept me riveted and loving every minute of listening to the book. The plot kept me on edge, being a nice balance between a thriller and a cozy historical mystery. It created real drama without making me feel too much intensity.

Further, I found myself becoming even further invested in the characters than I did in the prior book, and I was struck by the many changes the war was about to bring to the social structure of society. For example, we see a group of free blacks who complain that no one will let them fight for the North because the country doesn’t want to allow blacks into the army. We also can see foreshadowing of the way fashion will change as the demand for cloth becomes ever more intense. Sophie connects with Clara Barton, who went on to found the American Red Cross, and they work hard to locate material that can be used as bandages for the first wounded. I suspect it didn’t take long before women were starting to forgo the eight layers of clothing Sophie tells Adam make up a woman’s dress.

The historical details were fascinating to imagine, as they present a 12- day period in American history that I had not previously considered despite knowing a lot about the Civil War and having visited several battlefields. The afterward gives a thorough explanation of the sources used and the historical reality of the earliest days of the Civil War, which gave me further confidence in the background details of the book. I especially appreciated the fact that this book is not a mystery merely dropped into a period of history, but rather the mystery is wrapped up in the historical details of the era.

Barry Press performs the audio edition of this book, and he makes the story exciting and one in which listeners get invested. He uses effective pacing and accents to heighten the thrill of the book, pulling back just enough to keep us on tenterhooks. I definitely think the book is likely to be better listened to than merely read visually.

I highly loved listening to Murder in the Oval Library, which was a gripping book that I didn’t want to let end. In fact, I immediately called my historian mother and insisted that she listen to these two books because they are so well- written. Now what am I going to do until Murder at the Capitol comes out in January? If you haven’t already figured out that I’d give this book more than five stars if I could, you haven’t read this review very thoroughly!

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Great story!

I really enjoyed this second book this series. Looking forward to the next one. Sad that this one had much more unnecessary foul language than the last one. The story, however, and the performance were excellent. The voice characterizations were amazing!