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Reviewed by Raanan Geberer for Readers' Favorite
Pearson’s Paper by Graham Dodge is a gripping historical detective story, with the Civil War as a backdrop. Harrison Hunt, a suspicious, bitter man who recently left active service with the Union Army, joins the Washington D.C. police force as a detective. He is teamed up with Detective Schultz, a veteran sleuth who is used to doing things his way and prefers to work without a partner. Nonetheless, the two start working on the case of a newspaper editor who is killed in his office. While snooping around the docks to see if there have been any suspicious comings or goings that could lead him to the murderer, Hunt hears about a ship, the “Angelique,” that has a little too much security for a ship that’s supposedly carrying only third-rate lace. When Hunt and Schultz return to the docks at night to stake out the “Angelique,” they see men carrying muskets — and get a glimpse of the Confederate flag. The same Rebels whom Hunt had fought on the battlefield have hatched a nefarious plot on Union soil!
Pearson’s Paper is excellently written and is full of both action and historical details. Simply put, it’s a literary history buff’s detective story. The device of two somewhat incompatible detectives being thrown together on a case is as old as Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, but Graham Dodge makes it work. Many people are familiar with the battles of the Civil War, but Graham Dodge does an admirable job of showing what the home front was like. He also shows us that not everyone supported Lincoln and the war effort — indeed, at one point Hunt suspects that Schultz is a “Copperhead.” All in all, Pearson’s Paper should appeal to Civil War buffs, fans of historical novels in general, and aficionados of detective novels alike.