The Curse of Cain

Written by J. Mark Powell L. D. Meagher
Review by John R. Vallely

Most observers agree that the assassination of Abraham Lincoln damaged the very real possibility that postwar reconciliation between North and South would have been handled with far less tension. CNN journalists Powell and Meagher use this as the basis of their fast-paced and intriguing novel of the assassination. Rather than have John Wilkes Booth play a central role as the leader of the conspiracy, they portray him as the reluctant pawn of a professional killer, Basil Tarleton, hired by a Confederate congressman to kill Lincoln. Confederate agent Jack Tanner is ordered by President Jefferson Davis to stop Tarleton and keep Lincoln alive. Interweaving historical figures from both North and South with fictional players who are cleverly drawn makes for a thrilling 19th century version of John Le Carré’s 20th century world of shadowy figures and back alley treachery and violence.