The Lincoln Deception
Lincoln is a popular topic. David O. Stewart, a respected historian, has made a strong contribution with The Lincoln Deception, his first work of fiction. The prosecutor of the Booth conspirators told on his deathbed of a dangerous secret concerning Lincoln’s assassination, but he took the secret to his grave and the provenance of this tale was “by no means sturdy.” The story being too juicy to ignore, Stewart turned to fiction.
Stewart’s historical premise is that Booth was not a fanatic working alone, but part of an attempted coup d’état. With suspense Stewart has you guessing the co-conspirators’ identities. Both Northern and Southern suspects, including major institutions, abound. In between, Stewart works in some romance for his main character, a fictional doctor based loosely on Bingham’s real physician. The other main character, a black pro baseball player, is also based indirectly on an historical person, but the fictionalization gives Stewart room to tell an exciting story and develop unusual characters in depth. Lincoln himself is an indirect presence in a book set years after the president’s death and focused on the motives and thinking of the conspirators. Who would have gained by Lincoln’s death, financially or politically? What advantage could a defeated South see in its foe’s murder? This book raises interesting questions while taking a fresh angle on the Lincoln story. Stewart has enough historical expertise to pull off this flight into fiction.