Friday, December 16, 2011

Book Review: The Last Confederate Battle by John Cline

Steeped in Civil War history, The Last Confederate Battle by John Cline is a novel of three brothers and how the War between the States impacted their lives. It is also the story of Frank Stone, New York City Chief of Detectives and Allan Pinkerton, as they search for answers to mysterious murders and work to find out who is behind war-profiteering to bring them all to justice.

In this moving story, Cline brings the Civil War up front and close to readers as they explore how the conflict impacted the lives of several fictional characters. The three Davis brothers are called on to play different important roles for the Confederacy, and Andy pays a huge price for it.

The alternate plot finds Frank Stone brought in from New York City to assist Pinkerton in uncovering certain plots at President Lincoln's request. I like how Cline portrayed Lincoln in this novel. The caring persona that evolved throughout the story is exactly how I feel Lincoln has been remembered throughout history. In addition, Lincoln did what he felt was best to win the war, not necessarily what made him popular with Congress.

How the author tied the stories together is well done. I was wondering exactly how he would pull it off, but he managed quite nicely and it all made sense in the end.

My one challenge with this novel is that it is very plot-driven. The author obviously is well-versed in Civil War history, and he includes an abundance of historical detail within the pages of The Last Confederate Battle. While I enjoyed this aspect, since this is my favorite time in American history to read, the extensive pages of narrative made it read more like narrative non-fiction than a novel. Typically, with historical fiction, you have historical events molded around the characters. In this instance, it felt like the characters' stories were molded around American history, and this means the characters can get a bit lost in the shuffle. It puts a character-driven reader at a slight disadvantage, because you don't get to know the characters as well as you would like.

Now, for some this won't be an issue. Many readers enjoy plot-driven novels. I've read many of them myself. The Last Confederate Battle is a good book that accurately depicts the times in which the story is set. I would definitely look for more books from Cline in the future.

Title:  The Last Confederate Battle
Author:  John Cline
Publisher: Borderline Publishers
ISBN-10: 0984366997
ISBN-13: 978-0984366996
SRP:  $7.99 (Kindle and Nook)

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