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Reviewed by Astrid Iustulin for Readers' Favorite
I was surprised when I found out that The Senator’s Son is Charles Oldham’s first book. His reconstruction of a century-old cold case is so wide-ranging that it can be compared to the work of a seasoned historian. The Senator’s Son is what every historical book should be. It is extensively researched and as enthralling as a novel. The sad thing is that it tells a true story. Eight-year-old Kenneth Beasley mysteriously disappeared in Currituck County, North Carolina, in February 1905. No one has ever discovered what happened to him. More than one year later, a man with a violent past and on bad terms with Kenneth’s father was put on trial and convicted. He took his own life shortly after the sentence. The press emphasized both the disappearance and trial, but to this day doubts and mysteries remain.
Considering The Senator’s Son as just a well-researched book does not do it justice. This is an all-embracing historical picture. It informs about every aspect necessary to contextualize Kenneth’s disappearance and the trial. Despite the shortage of material, Oldham has reconstructed backgrounds that provide useful information about people, customs, and laws. He reveals a keen interest in many topics and enviable subtlety in his analysis. His account is always consistent and relevant, and he often makes valuable remarks. I appreciated that Oldham had not considered his work done with the description of the trial. In the last chapters, he discusses some theories and reflects on the events. Indeed, this is the part that makes you understand how far we were from the truth until now. I really hope to read more books by Oldham soon.