Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Blue and the Gray by M.J. Trow

First Sentence:  “I don’t believe it!” Arlette Ross McKintyre’s eyes flashed fire as she looked up at the Presidential box.”
Captain Matthew Grand happened to be attending the play at Ford’s Theater when Lincoln is shot.  He attempted to apprehend Booth, but failed and is sent to London undercover to track down one of the co-conspirators.  In London, newspaper report Jim Batchelor has been investigating a series of garrottings by the Haymarket Strangler but is hired to do an article on Grand and the assassination.  The unlikely pair team up when there are signs the two cases may be related.
The story begins with an opening which starts out light but quickly turns much darker and tragic.  What is interesting is that one never thinks of Lincoln’s assassination from the perspective of a bystander, yet Trow does an excellent job of making you feel as though you were there. 
The characters are fully drawn.  Grand’s fiancée is catty, ambitious and highly annoying; yet her butler is delightful. Grand has the confidence of a former military captain, yet you feel his overwhelm in coming to London.  Batchelor is canny and a survivor who believes in what he does. The interchanges between Grand and Batchelor are wonderful and the characters are an interesting mix.
Trow provides fascinating references to historical characters and events, most of which may have been previously unknown to readers, yet their inclusion adds extra dimension to the story.  For all the grimness of the situations, Trow’s voice and touches humor, of situations and the dialogue.
The Blue and the Gray” is a very good read introducing two wonderful characters.  How delightful to find a new series to follow.

THE BLUE AND THE GRAY (Hist Mys – Capatin Matthew Grand/James Batchelor – Washington D.C., London – 1865) - VG
Trow, M.J. – 1st in series
Severn House – April 2015

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