Pliney Fiske is a clerk in the Civil War Pension Office of Concord, New Hampshire. His job is to determine what compensation injured Union veterans should receive. One day young Charlie Fullerton, who lost a leg during the battle of Antietam, makes an application. The problem? Charlie was only ten at the time, and three adult men are required to agree on the circumstances of his injury. And it soon becomes clear that everyone who was there is lying. Charlie’s guardian, the attractive widow Prescott, asks Pliney to find out the true circumstances of the boy’s injury. Pliney agrees, and finds himself in the middle of a deadly mystery.
This is a fast and engaging read. The author, a journalist, has clearly done his research and caught the social, racial, and sexual attitudes of the times and the place. He weaves this into a story with a shy but determined hero who is learning about the war he escaped, and about himself, too. Highly recommended.