Saturday, January 18, 2014

Book Review: The Thackery Journal by John Holt

In January 1866, Aaron Thackery sits in his chair reading--once again--his son Jacob's journal. It tells in great detail of the Civil War and Jacob's feelings of duty to protect the southern way of life. But after four long, hard years of war and the loss of so many of his men, Jacob is no longer that disillusioned youth fighting for a just cause. He merely wants to go home.

Blaming President Lincoln for the dreaded war, Jacob Thackery is pulled into a plot launched by some of Lincoln's generals to assassinate the president and replace him with General Ulysses S. Grant.

What an exciting premise for a novel. Several Lincoln assassination conspiracies exist. Holt uses fictional Union Army generals and the legend of the Confederate shipment of gold to create a conspiracy of Lincoln's own generals plotting to kill him so that Grant could be president. This would, of course, require the elimination of other members of the president's cabinet.

While the plot is fascinating and the numerous historical photographs allow the reader to connect with the characters, the execution of the plot is flimsy, the dialogue is stilted and repetitive, and the point of view is all over the place. In addition, the reader must read halfway (150 pages or so) through the book before the rumblings of a conspiracy are even introduced.

Let me back up a moment to explain. The book opens with Aaron Thackery reading Jacob's journal for the umpteenth time hoping to discover why his son got involved in a plot that led to his death. So, I was expecting the majority of the story to be told from Jacob's point of view. But it's not. Many things take place where Jacob Thackery isn't even present. How is the reader supposed to assume Aaron is reading about them in Jacob's journal? And because there is no depth to the point of view--no matter whose point of view you're in--the book lacks emotion. The reader feels some emotion while reading Jacob's journal entries, but other than that, the pushy narrator is telling you everything that has transpired instead of allowing the characters to lead the way.

It's obvious the author has performed research on the Civil War. Many historical details from the battles and the areas in which they took place are included. But at times, I wished the details had been cut back to allow the conspiracy to be introduced earlier. One hundred and fifty pages is a lot of reading to wade through to get to the main point of the novel. With an editor to help work through the structural issues, I feel The Thackery Journal could be a fine book. Many reviewers already believe it is. You can read their thoughts on Amazon. You can also learn about John Holt's numerous other titles there or visit the author's website at

File Size: 1720 KB
Print Length: 308 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Phoenix; First edition (November 7, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

This is the third book I've read for the following challenges:

I received a digital version of this book from the author through Dark Scream Book Tours. This review contains my honest opinions, which I was not compensated for in any way.


fredamans said...

Honestly, I'm not one for war books, but I appreciate the effort the author seems to have put into the research behind the book and era. Fantastic review!

Cheryl said...

Research seems to take forever sometimes, but you can definitely tell when an author has done his work.