Spy of Richmond

Written by Jocelyn Green
Review by Jo Ann Butler

Not all southerners supported the South’s secession from the Union. Twenty-three-year- old Sophie Kent is one of them. Her father was a slave holder before he was captured, but Sophie abhors the practice. However, when her mother dies, Sophie is shocked to learn that an enslaved woman, bought to serve her mother, is not to be freed. Daphne has been irrevocably bequeathed to Sophie. Is there anything a young woman can do to affect the course of the Civil War and help end slavery?

As it turns out, Sophie lives in Richmond, Virginia, capital of the Confederacy. She shelters escaping slaves in her home, volunteers to nurse Union troops confined at Libby Prison, and ferries messages to aid prisoners in escapes. Even though she risks the gallows, Sophie is also recruited as a spy by a Union sympathizer, who suggests that she glean information about troop movements from a friendly Confederate officer, Captain Lawrence Russell. Sophie encourages Russell to court her, even as she frets for Harrison Caldwell, a Yankee journalist confined in the brutal Libby Prison.

Jocelyn Green’s Spy of Richmond is the fourth in her series, Heroines Behind the Lines, and is inspired by contemporary accounts and actual persons. Suitable for both young adult and adult readers, Spy of Richmond is a well-written and entertaining read. Caldwell’s trials in Libby Prison are particularly gripping, but I have trouble believing that Sophie and the freedman and woman who assist her would have had such free access to Libby. Even so, if you relish a resourceful and courageous heroine, give Spy of Richmond a try.