Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson (HC)
The YA version of Swanson's bestselling Manhunt, this account of Lincoln's assassination and the 12-day search for his killer reads like a historical thriller, no matter that the narrative jumps among its locations and characters. As President Lincoln delivers victory speeches in April 1865, an enraged John Wilkes Booth vows death: "Now, by God, I'll put him through." Every bit of dialogue is said to come from original sources, adding a chill to the already disturbing conspiracy that Swanson unfolds in detail as Booth persuades friends and sympathizers to join his plot and later, to give him shelter. The author gives even the well-known murder scene at Ford's Theatre enough dramatic flourish to make the subject seem fresh. While Lincoln lays dying, Booth's accomplices clumsily attempt to kill Secretary of State William H. Seward, and Booth talks his way past a guard meant to bar him from crossing a bridge into Maryland. In focusing on Booth, the author reveals the depth of divisions in the nation just after the war, the disorder within the government and the challenges ahead. Abundant period photographs and documents enhance the book's immediacy.