The action begins in October of 1875, as Secret Service agents raid the Fulton, Illinois, workshop of master counterfeiter Ben Boyd. Soon after Boyd is hauled off to prison, members of his counterfeiting ring gather in the back room of a smoky Chicago saloon to discuss how to spring their ringleader. Their plan: grab Lincoln's body from its Springfield tomb, stash it in the sand dunes near Lake Michigan, and demand, as a ransom, the release of Ben Boyd --and $200,000 in cash. From here, the action alternates between the conspirators, the Secret Service agents on their trail, and the undercover agent moving back and forth between the two groups. Along the way readers get glimpses into the inner workings of counterfeiting, grave robbing, detective work, and the early days of the Secret Service. The plot moves toward a wild climax as robbers and lawmen converge at Lincoln's tomb on election night: November 7, 1876.
Review: Told in lively dialogue and a fascinating narrative in a true crime thriller fashion, Lincoln's Grave Robbers is based on a little known event in history. In 1876 Secret Service agents were on the trail of counterfeiters who hoped to spring their leader from jail by holding the body of President Abraham Lincoln for ransom. The plot is unbelievable and perfect for the next action movie to hit the theaters, which makes it even more compelling and perfect for the reluctant reader. Throughout the book we get the point of views from various men who were involved in this scheme: "Big Jim" Kennally, the mastermind behind the plot; Terrence Mullen; and Benjamin Boyd, the man his crew is trying to save. Among the lawmen are James Brooks, chief of the Secret Service, and agents Patrick Tyrrell and Elmer Washburn. Though there are historical details interwoven with the body-snatching plot such as the presidential election of 1876 between candidates Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel Tilde as well as Lincoln's own family, much of the focus is spent on caper plotline, which I personally found much more interesting. The book includes a glossary of phrases used in the dialogue and photos from this time period. Readers interest will be piqued by the page-turning true crime story and learn a little history along the way.
Rating: 4 stars
Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 5 and up.
If you like this book try: Stealing Lincoln's Body by Thomas Craughwell for adult readers, Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James Swanson for younger readers