My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A historical fiction debut by an award-winning political journalist and Washington insider about the death of Abraham Lincoln’s son--was it illness or murder?
Washington City, 1862: The United States lies in tatters, and there seems no end to the war. Abraham Lincoln, the legitimate President of the United States, is using all his will to keep his beloved land together. But Lincoln’s will and soul are tested when tragedy strikes the White House as Willie Lincoln, the love and shining light in the president’s heart, is taken by typhoid fever.
But was this really the cause of his death? A message arrives, suggesting otherwise. Lincoln asks John Hay, his trusted aide—and almost a son—to investigate Willie’s death. Some see Hay as a gadfly--adventurous, incisive, lusty, reflective, skeptical, even cynical—but he loves the president and so seeks the truth behind the boy’s death.
And so, as we follow Hay in his investigation, we are shown the loftiest and lowest corners of Washington City, from the president’s office and the gentleman’s dining room at Willard’s Hotel to the alley hovels, wartime hospitals, and the dome-less Capitol’s vermin-infested subbasement. We see the unfamiliar sides of a grief-stricken president, his hellcat of a wife, and their two surviving and suffering sons, and Hay matches wits with such luminaries as General McClellan, William Seward, and the indomitable detective Allan Pinkerton.
What Hay discovers has the potential of not only destroying Lincoln, but a nation.
The Murder of Willie Lincoln is a "What If" story about Abraham Lincolns sons' death. This historical mystery book felt very well-researched, I particularly liked the author's note at the end of the book where he explained how much is true in the story. Personally, did I find the story both engrossed me, but also there were parts when I felt the investigation dragged on a bit. I have to admit that I sometimes found the story a bit hard to focus on as John Hay dug for information and interviewed people. But, there are also moments that shined, and that's often when Abraham or his wife Mary Lincoln was involved in the story. Those moments, their loss of their son was so gripping. I thought after finishing the book that I wouldn't have minded the book without the mystery, and I love historical mystery books.
Now, it may sound that I did not enjoy the mystery of Willie's death, but I did. It was just that it did not grip me the same way as the parts when the parents mourned their son. However, I was still curious to learn the truth and I was, to be honest, astonished about the ending of the book.
I found The Murder of Willie to be an interesting book and it made me want to read more about Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War.
I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!