American history has come back to life in this thrilling historical fiction novel!
Mary Surratt was a woman who has been defined as one of the most evil women in American history. But what role did she actually play in the affair that would claim the life of a President? As we dive into the story, we see a woman who is attempting to make the best life she can for her family. After the death of her husband, she decides to lease out the tavern that they own, and move back into Washington D.C. There she opens the home as a boarding house. With one son fighting for the Confederacy, and one working in secret, Mary is walking a fine line. As a sympathetic supporter for the South, she wants to do her bit, but she also knows that she has to be careful.
With the boarders in her home, she has an array of backgrounds, but there are some that are long term boarders, such as Nora Fitzpatrick and Louis Weichmann. Mr. Weichmann works for the War Department and Nora is just a young lady living in the D.C. area, close to her father, but leading her own life. She spends her time reading to the soldiers who are convalesing in the hospital, cheering their spirits. While Mrs. Surratt is a staunch Southern supported, Nora is firmly Union.
When her son befriends John Wilkes Booth, he begins to spend more time at the boarding house. Nora and Anna Surratt are beyond excited with the attentions of such a distinguished actor, and they spent many happy hours doing reading, singing duets, and visiting with the young actor.
With the war going against the South, there are many who are working behind the scenes to do what they can to help the cause. Johnny Surratt asks his mother to let people stay once in a while. He has also started running blockades and taking messages and other items back and forth.
Mary knows that something is up but does not ask a lot of questions. In time though, she begins to understand more of what they are doing. Johnny confesses there is a plot to kidnap the President. She is appalled, but does not know who to talk to, and how can she turn in her own son?
With time becoming shorter and shorter, the plot to kidnap the President turns into one for assassination, and one evening while the President and his wife are attending a play, he is shot by John Wilkes Booth.
With the death of the President and the country baying for blood, the conspirators are quickly rounded up. After some initial questions, the boarders in Mrs. Surratts boarding house are arrested and re-questioned. Some are let free, while others spend a considerable amount of time in prison. Nora remains faithful to Mrs. Surratt, and does not give any information she doesn't have to, but there is really not much that she could tell anyway. Mrs. Surratt was not in the business of sharing secrets with the boarders. Only one, Mr. Weichmann seems to think that something is going on with all the comings and goings. In the end, only 7 are brought to military trial, Mrs. Surratt being the only woman to stand trial. Mr. Weichmann speaks for the prosecution, and his memory makes Mrs. Surratt wonder if there is anything that he does not remember from his time in the boarding house. Nora also bears witness for the prosecution, but after her release from prison, speaks for the defense as well. But try as every one might, the verdict is guilty. Mary Surratt and three others are condemned to death by hanging.
Nora and Anna exhausted their resources trying to get a stay of execution and have the sentence commuted, but they are getting nowhere and time is running out..
This book was amazing! From the first I was drawn into the story and the history. I highly recommend this book! The author does a fantastic job of fleshing out the characters and bringing them to life in a way that has never been done! Don't miss this fantastic read!