In the summer of 1866, young Seamus Delaney, a former colonel in the Irish Brigade and a Union veteran of the Civil War, checks into the Cauterskill Mountain House, a grand hotel perched on a summit overlooking the Hudson Valley. Seamus is still employed, in a clandestine capacity, by the government, but has been ordered by his superior, the shadowy Secretary, to take a rest. On the morning of his arrival, his path crosses that of the lovely, ethereal Emily, and later in the day he rescues her when her horse accidentally stampedes and her buckboard nearly plummets over the Kaaterskill Falls. What first appears to be an accident soon seems to Seamus to be attempted murder. Early the following day, a murder is committed, and the victim is not Emily, but a man shot from behind while attending a prayer service on the piazza of the hotel.
Luther Van Bronc, a black man who, like Seamus, is a veteran of the Civil War, is accused of firing the fatal shot. At the request of Luther’s employer, the owner of the hotel, the wealthy Mr. Beecher, it falls to Seamus to clear the accused before a lynch mob renders its own justice.
In pursuit of this task, Seamus finds himself contending with conspiracies he had thought long since dead, with violent secret societies, Copperheads, slave-catchers, spies, assassins, destructionists and with his own demons. At every turn, he finds his enemies to be more powerful and sophisticated than expected and the stakes of the game to be higher and higher. He finds allies in unexpected places and, in the end; he discovers a hidden truth which no one, least of all the Secretary, is willing to admit.
The Veteran in a New Field, a mystery novel, presents in microcosm the turbulence and heroism of a diverse 19th century American society just emerging from a long and brutal Civil War. While that society hoped that the struggle was at last over, it was not, the scars remained and social conflict, frequently violent, continued. The characters in the novel represent many facets of that America and join together, as they did in the actual war, to overcome the forces of greed and bigotry.
In 2013, the continuing story of Seamus Delaney; The Sharpshooter on Picket Duty was published.It picks up where The Veteran in a New Field leaves off, when it is late in the summer of 1866 and the guns of the Civil War have been silent for more than a year since General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. The President of the United States has declared the irrepressible conflict officially over only a few days before. Yet the struggles that brought on the War are by no means resolved.
Seamus arrives at the glittering resort of Saratoga Springs, New York. He has been assigned to continue to protect the most important member of the President’s cabinet on his trip to the famous spa. Immediately, a deadly attack makes it clear that the forces that attempted to the kill the man in Seamus’ charge in the past are relentlessly pressing home their assaults.
Or are they?
Now the latest in the Seamus Delaney trilogy, published this year; 2016; Prisoners from the Front is available.
In the early months of 1867, Seamus Delaney, a veteran officer of the Union Irish Brigade is now employed as a detective for the United States government. His duties and his love for his darling Emily have brought him back to the Nation’s Capital in whose defense he had often fought during the Civil War. He is tasked with ensuring that the last of the known conspirators in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln is brought to justice. When an attempt is made on his life, he is sure that the forces he has struggled with both before and since the official end of the War; violent secret societies, traitors and Copperheads, some of whom control powerful positions in local and national government, are determined to prevent him from carrying out his orders. Seamus knows too that these are the same foes who threaten Emily with false charges that could result in her being hanged. He battles these treacherous enemies as he did during the War, with wits and weapons and by more subtle means as well. The fight takes him to places where he had served in wartime and there he finds that the old hatreds are alive yet. He bands together again with comrades of his past campaigns to save both his love and his adopted country.
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