One Must Tell The Bees

by J. Lawrence Matthews

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“President Lincoln is assassinated in his private box at Ford’s!”

When those harrowing words ring out during a children’s entertainment in Washington, D.C. the evening of Friday, April 14, 1865, a quick-thinking young English chemist named Holmes grabs Tad Lincoln, the 12 year-old son of the dying President and races the boy out the theater and into a city convulsed by the shooting of the man known as the Great Emancipator—and soon finds himself on the hunt for John Wilkes Booth.

This is the extraordinary untold story of how that young chemist and a freed slave boy named Abraham tracked Booth through backwoods Maryland and across the Potomac River to the tobacco barn where Booth died.

It is the very first case of the detective we now know as Sherlock Holmes.

And as we learn in One Must Tell the Bees, it is nothing like his last…

REVIEW

I cannot claim to be any kind of expert on Sherlock Holmes. I’ve never read any of the Arthur Conan Doyle novels; indeed my only real exposure to Holmes has been on television. I remember watching old Basil Rathbone movies as a kid, loved the Disney film, The Great Mouse Detective; saw a few of the Benedict Cumberbatch Sherlock episodes, and that’s about it. As for the American Civil War, I am not a ‘professional’ historian, but I have been reading and studying American history all of my life – indeed my major in college was History, and it is a pursuit I have kept active for 60+ years. So when I received a request to read and review One Must Tell the Bees, it was the Civil War/Lincoln aspect that convinced me to accept it. However, it was clear early on, in this scintillating tale, that the Holmesian twist, and the subsequent telling of the last days of Sherlock Holmes, had me totally in thrall. This powerful imagining by the author not only entertains with the story, but it is chock full of superbly written characters. The historical figures loom large in this tale, and are portrayed in a realistic manner, but the thing that I find most impressive (and something I look for in every historical-fiction book I read) is that the fictional characters are crafted in such a way as to make them appear to be historical as well…and that, my fellow readers, is the mark of excellent storytelling where the line between history and fiction has vanished into the realm of believability.

Not being an aficionado of the Sherlock Holmes genre, I am at least acquainted enough with his demeanor/mannerisms/his familiar attire, etc., to recognize that One Must Tell the Bees brings Arthur Conan Doyle’s Holmes to life as surely as the new garden varietals brings Holmes’ bees back to the hives. Like pollen laden bees, and the hives bursting with honeycomb, the pages are redolent with superb storytelling that kept this reader more than entertained, it was nourishment for the soul. 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Cotillion Brigade: A Novel of the Civil War and the Most Famous Female Militia in American History

by Glen Craney

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Twitter tags: @glencraney @hfvbt  
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Publication Date: March 15, 2021
Brigid’s Fire Press
Paperback & eBook; 399 pages

Georgia burns.
Sherman’s Yankees are closing in.
Will the women of LaGrange run or fight?

Based on the true story of the celebrated Nancy Hart Rifles, The Cotillion Brigade is a sweeping epic of the Civil War’s ravages on family and love, the resilient bonds of sisterhood amid devastation, and the miracle of reconciliation between bitter enemies.

“Gone With The Wind meets A League Of Their Own.”

1856. Sixteen-year-old Nannie Colquitt Hill makes her debut in the antebellum society of the Chattahoochee River plantations. A thousand miles to the north, a Wisconsin farm boy, Hugh LaGrange, joins an Abolitionist crusade to ban slavery in Bleeding Kansas.

Five years later, secession and total war against the homefronts of Dixie hurl them toward a confrontation unrivaled in American history.

Nannie defies the traditions of Southern gentility by forming a women’s militia and drilling it four long years to prepare for battle. With their men dead, wounded, or retreating with the Confederate armies, only Captain Nannie and her Fighting Nancies stand between their beloved homes and the Yankee torches.

Hardened into a slashing Union cavalry colonel, Hugh duels Rebel generals Joseph Wheeler and Nathan Bedford Forrest across Tennessee and Alabama. As the war churns to a bloody climax, he is ordered to drive a burning stake deep into the heart of the Confederacy.

Yet one Georgia town—which by mocking coincidence bears Hugh’s last name—stands defiant in his path.

Read the remarkable story of the Southern women who formed America’s most famous female militia and the Union officer whose life they changed forever.

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REVIEW

While I was reading this most entertaining tale, it occurred to me that it was almost like watching the Civil War documentary by Ken Burns. I even heard Shelby Foote’s voice narrating some of the battles as I was reading. That is a good indication, my fellow readers, that the author did his homework, and has created a tale that sees the war from both sides. Through the eyes of Nannie, the force behind The Nancy Hart Rifles, we are immersed in the polite plantation society of antebellum Georgia, and it is through this stubborn, persistent woman we witness the demoralizing changes brought on as the war progresses.

Hugh thought his life would be as a farmer, but finds himself part of the abolitionist movement led by a rather zealous college professor. Heeding Lincoln’s call for men, he, and his cavalry regiment eventually becomes one of the important pieces of Sherman’s March to the Sea.

The story is wonderfully crafted. The characters are full of the rightness of their cause, and the narrative flows seamlessly between the two sides. I enjoyed the dialogue, and the way the author shows his historical chops with his descriptions of the battles and the major players involved. The horrors perpetuated, and endured; the range of emotions; the fortitude to survive the losses and the suffering – indeed this telling of one of the lesser known chapters in the war had this reader intrigued from page one. 5⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the Author

A graduate of Indiana University School of Law and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Glen Craney practiced trial law before joining the Washington, D.C. press corps to write about national politics and the Iran-contra trial for Congressional Quarterly magazine. In 1996, the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences awarded him the Nicholl Fellowship prize for best new screenwriting. His debut historical novel, The Fire and the Light, was named Best New Fiction by the National Indie Excellence Awards. He is a three-time Finalist/Honorable Mention winner of Foreword Magazine’s Book-of-the-Year and a Chaucer Award winner for Historical Fiction. His books have taken readers to Occitania during the Albigensian Crusade, the Scotland of Robert Bruce, Portugal during the Age of Discovery, the trenches of France during World War I, the battlefields of the Civil War, and the American Hoovervilles of the Great Depression. He lives in Malibu, California, and has served as president of the Southern California Chapter of the Historical Novel Society.

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Giveaway

We have ten eBooks of The Cotillion Brigade by Glen Craney up for grabs!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on May 14th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Direct Link: https://gleam.io/competitions/MZ7Uy-the-cotillion-brigade

The Arlington Orders by Elliot Mason

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Elliot writes, “In the dying days of the Civil War, an assassination attempt is made on Confederate president Jefferson Davis. Faced with this ongoing threat, the decision is made to evacuate the Southern capital of Richmond, Virginia. Everything must be moved, including the Confederacy’s substantial gold and silver reserves, which must be kept out of Union hands. Thus, a covert plan is devised to transfer it to a secret location. However, during the move, the treasure vanishes without a trace.

One hundred and fifty years later, two historians, Des Cook and Madison Callum, stumble upon clues that could solve one of the war’s greatest mysteries while leading them to the richest and most significant find in American history. But others are searching for it too and will do anything to obtain it.

Now, Des and Madison find themselves entangled in a race that, if they fail to win, would not only result in their deaths but also change the very future of the country.”

REVIEW

A savvy mystery/treasure hunt/thriller – yes, that what The Arlington Orders is, my fellow readers. The long lost Confederate gold spirited away from Richmond before it fell is being hunted by a diverse group of people for a variety of reasons…not all of them altruistic. The story is well paced, and filled with twists and turns in the plot. The characters are well written; interesting and imbued with believable emotional responses and motives for their actions. Page turning suspense sprinkled with edge of the seat action, The Arlington Orders keeps the reader engaged and entertained. You could compare it to National Treasure, but with a villain who is even nastier than Sean Bean. 😎                                        4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Across the Great Divide: Book 1 The Clouds of War by Michael Ross

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Lexington, Kentucky, 1859. After saving John Hunt Morgan from a puma attack, fifteen-year-old farm boy Will Crump joins Hunt’s militia, the Lexington Rifles. Morgan mentors Will and enrolls him in the local university, where he hopes to study law. As tensions rise between the North and South, Will is torn between his loyalty to Morgan and his love for his family. Will’s father, sisters, and sweetheart follow the Union, while Morgan and Will commit to the South. As part of Morgan’s band, Will participates in ambushes and unconventional warfare until his first real battle at Shiloh. He fights bravely, but increasingly questions what the war is accomplishing, and whether his devotion to honor has led him astray. And where is God in all this killing?

Will’s sister Albinia, friend of the Clay family, becomes increasingly aware of the plight of the slaves. When she finds Luther, a slave she knows, trying to escape, she must decide between her conscience, and her friends. She becomes involved in the Underground Railroad, helping slaves to freedom – but will it cost her love and her freedom?

Will’s other sister, Julia, is approaching spinster status and despairs of ever meeting a man who can give her more than life on a farm until she meets Hiram Johannsen, a son of immigrants who owns a steamship company. They marry and she makes a new life in the North. When Hiram answers the call to fight for the North, Julia runs the steamboat company in her husband’s absence and uses her boats to help Albinia ferry escaped slaves to freedom. Her business relations put her in the perfect position to spy for the North. When the Confederates capture her, will she survive?

Luther is one of the first slaves Albinia helps flee the South after his master cruelly abuses his mother and sister. He escapes with his family, and when war breaks out, he fights for the North as an auxiliary of the Third Ohio Cavalry, alongside Julia’s husband, Hiram, and against Morgan and Will. Luther has to confront the demons of his past, an abusive master, and a slave catcher that kills his little sister. Will the desire for revenge destroy him?

Throughout the war, Will is forced to examine and question everything he believes in—his faith in God, his love for his family, his loyalty to Morgan, and his worth as a human being.

Will and his family must somehow mend the torn fabric of relationships to find peace, and reach Across the Great Divide.

REVIEW

An emotionally charged tale reflecting the divisive times of The Civil War. With the ‘neutral’ state of Kentucky as the backdrop, the author paints a vivid picture of life and issues confronting his characters. The issues involved are meticulously described – slavery, states rights, the North as invaders, the Underground Railroad – a story told from the perspective of the people who are faced with impossible decisions and see their lives ripped apart by the storm of war.  Strong characters, a steady flowing narrative, and intriguing story lines following the Crump family and associates make this a definite page turning tale.

4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

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Michael Ross is a lover of history and great stories. He’s a retired software engineer turned author, with three children, and five grandchildren, living in Newton, Kansas with his wife of 39 years. Michael graduated from Rice University and Portland State University. He was born in Lubbock, Texas, and still loves Texas. He’s written short stories and technical articles in the past. “Across the Great Divide: Book 1 The Clouds of War” is his first novel.

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The True Soldier by Paul Fraser Collard

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I have followed Jack Lark to many places and events about which I knew very little; The Crimean War, trouble in Persia, revolt in India, Solferino, Italy, and the stews and gin palaces of London.  Now, because of a promise made to a dying man, Jack is in my neck of the woods; Boston, Massachusetts and just in time for a war I do know about; The Civil War.  Through the influence of the father of the dying man, Jack becomes not only a sergeant in the army, but also the protector of the dying man’s brother. You could say that Jack is less than under whelmed by the readiness and experience of this newly formed unit, and in his own lovable brusque manner attempts to make that point. You could say that his new comrades are less than enthused by his doom and gloom attitude. The author has crafted an engaging tale focusing on the early days of the war with all the pomp and ceremony as the crowds cheer their sons, husbands, fathers, and sweethearts onto what they all believe will be a short, victorious campaign. He has also presented those early days in a well researched manner; I especially enjoyed the riot in Baltimore. It’s not one of those familiar bits of the era and the author portrays it in admirable fashion. Along with that and the 1st Battle of Bull Run the reader is brought into the action in all it’s sound and fury. Jack, at times not knowing what to do with his life, rediscovers the plain facts; he can lead men into that maw of death and destruction, and he can still become a perpetrator of that death and destruction. A marvelous tale indeed with well rounded characters, entertaining plots, and the promise of more Jack to come.

5 stars